Notre Dame beats Boston College 19-16 at Fenway Park

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BOSTON (AP) Notre Dame made itself at home in Boston College territory.

Taking over Fenway Park for a far-flung home game, the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish spent most of it on the BC side of the field, overcoming five turnovers to beat the Eagles 19-16 on Saturday night.

The Irish (10-1, No. 4 College Football Playoff) have won six in a row since a two-point loss to top-ranked Clemson. If not for three turnovers inside the BC 5-yard line, this one wouldn’t have been close.

DeShone Kizer completed 20 of 38 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Chris Brown caught six passes for 104 yards, and Amir Carlisle had seven catches for 97 yards. C.J. Prosise ran eight times for 57 yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone before leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter.

BC quarterback Jeff Smith ran for 100 yards, breaking free for an 80-yard run to make it 19-9 with about 10 minutes to play. He also hit Charlie Callinan from 3 yards out to make it 19-16 with 54 seconds left.

The Eagles (3-8) attempted an onside kick, but Irish safety Matthias Farley fell on the ball to clinch it and send BC to its seventh straight loss.

Although the century-old ballpark is just a few T stops from Boston College’s Chestnut Hill campus, Notre Dame was officially the home team as part of the “Shamrock Series” – an effort to stay in touch with out-of-town alumni.

Previous scores in those games took the place of the AL East standings on Fenway’s Green Monster, and the results of games involving teams in the College Football Playoff hunt were displayed on where the baseball scores usually are.

The field was laid out from the third-base line to the right-field bullpens, with the yard markers and end zones decorated in the old-style font of the Red Sox.

The evening begin with a moment of silence for the parents of former BC quarterback Doug Flutie, who died of heart attacks within an hour of each other on Wednesday. The Notre Dame band played “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with the American flag draped over the Green Monster.

The Irish came out of the Boston dugout, where their iconic “Play Like a Champion Today” sign was hung. (Receiver Torii Hunter Jr., whose father and namesake played against the Red Sox for the Tigers, Twins and Angels, was given David Ortiz’s locker in the clubhouse.)

Kizer was picked off in the BC end zone on Notre Dame’s opening possession. He threw another interception at the Eagles’ 3 and another near midfield. Notre Dame also coughed up the ball at the Eagles’ 3 and at the BC 32.

The Irish even fumbled on their only touchdown drive of the first half, but escaped when center Nick Martin fell on the ball. They extended the drive again when Justin Yoon‘s 44-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, but the Eagles were called for roughing the kicker.

Two plays later, Kizer hit Carlisle for a 10-yard score to make it 10-0. Notre Dame made it 16-3 in the third quarter when Kizer connected with Brown from 12 yards out on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone, right in front of the visitors’ dugout on what is usually the third-base line.

Yoon’s second field goal made it 19-3.

Smith, who took over in the third quarter for John Fadule, cut through the line and outran the defense for an 80-yard score. A delay of game penalty put the 2-point conversion attempt at the 8-yard line, and Smith’s pass sailed out of the end zone incomplete.

‘Match made in heaven’: Deion Sanders to coach Jackson State

Eric Shelton/Clarion Ledger
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JACKSON, Miss. — Deion Sanders wiped away tears of joy and passion before speaking.

Jackson State’s new football coach then stated “I believe” many times about what he envisions happening on and off the field.

“I have a commitment to excellence in each and every thing I do,” the Hall of Fame cornerback said during his introduction as the Tigers’ 21st head coach, a number also significant because of his jersey number and Monday’s date.

“We’re going to win. We’re going to look good while we win, and we’re going to have a good time while we win.”

Sanders’ introduction followed his announcement Sunday night. The player known as “Prime Time” added: “Isn’t this the time? Isn’t this the moment? Isn’t this what’s needed? It’s a match made in heaven.”

Currently the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School-Cedar Hill in Texas, Sanders is taking his first head coaching job.

“I’ve been offered pro jobs,” Sanders added, “so people know I could be an assistant in any college.”

The Southwestern Athletic Conference school introduced Sanders with the trademark pomp of a historically Black university. Its marching band led a police-escorted motorcade into an arena with a boisterous yet socially distanced audience. “Coach Prime” later opened a blue blazer lined with the JSU logo to much applause.

Acting Jackson State President Thomas Hudson called the hiring “the grace of God” and cited the school’s football history in landing Sanders.

“These things just come together,” Hudson added, crediting athletic director Ashley Robinson and alumni. “We’re just so very fortunate to really be in this space and have a man like this joining us.”

In a statement, Robinson said, “We expect to compete for and win championships at Jackson State, and Coach Sanders will help us achieve those goals.”

Sanders replaces John Hendrick, whose contract was not renewed this summer after going 6-9 and 5-5 in SWAC play. Sanders will begin coaching this spring after the SWAC postponed fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers plan to begin an eight-game schedule in February.

He takes over a Tigers program that has produced fellow Hall of Famers such as Walter Payton, Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Robert Brazile.

Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State before a standout NFL career with five teams including the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, winning a Super Bowl with each. He also earned eight Pro Bowl and nine first-team All-Pro selections during a career in which he also returned kicks and punts and played wide receiver. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Sanders also played nine seasons with four clubs in Major League Baseball, appearing in the 1992 World Series with the Atlanta Braves.

No. 1 Clemson, Swinney worried about COVID during bye week

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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has few worries about his football team on the field. Off it? That’s another story.

Swinney is concerned that the top-ranked Tigers’ bye week – especially with players getting Friday and Saturday off – could result in the team having more contact with people and increase players’ risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

“Probably the same primary concern of every coach out there,” Swinney said.

So far, so good.

The Tigers (2-0), like all Atlantic Coast Conference teams, are getting tested three times a week and have had no positives through the first two games.

“Our protocol’s been really, really good,” Swinney said Tuesday. “I trust them. It’s not like we get them all day, every day. We get them for about four hours max. So the other 20 hours comes down to trust, discipline and sacrifice.”

Clemson will practice three days this week and have a team function Tuesday in place of its usual community service day during a week off. The team will reconvene after its break Sunday to get tested and start preparing to face Virginia on Oct. 3.

The Tigers are motivated to do everything the right way as they pursue championship goals they missed out on last year by falling to LSU in the national title game, cornerback Sheridan Jones said.

“It’s having faith over fear,” Jones said. “Faith that we are going to have a season. Moving at that pace with that mindset has helped us to work day in, day out and stay focused on the task at hand.”

Clemson has looked like a team on a mission. The Tigers have had easy wins over Wake Forest and The Citadel, beating the Bulldogs 49-0 this past Saturday for their first shutout in four years.

Their play has been so efficient and effective, Swinney is having difficulty picking it apart.

The offense, led by Heisman Trophy favorite Trevor Lawrence, has blitzed both opponents while the first-team defense has played at a championship level. Swinney and his staff have been able to play backups for significant stretches.

“We played 13 linebackers (against The Citadel) and about every D-lineman we had,” Swinney said.

On special teams, B.T. Potter has made all three of his field goals and had touchbacks on his nine kickoffs. Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers are helping Clemson average nearly 18 yards on punt returns.

Defensive tackle Jordan Williams said as well as the team has performed, it’s time for a break. The long summer camp with all the questions about whether Clemson would even play football was draining and stressful.

“It’s definitely something we all need,” Williams said. “It’s something that’s going to help us grow.”

The team had a spike in COVID-19 cases when it returned for summer workouts in June (37 of 43 positive tests among Clemson athletes were football players). Since then, Williams said players have bought into doing what it takes to continue the season.

“That’s what’s pushed us,” Williams said.

Clemson has had some issues related to COVID-19. Expected starting defensive end Xaiver Thomas took a redshirt season because he caught the virus in the spring and it took a toll on his conditioning. Swinney said Thomas is getting his fitness back and is preparing to play later this season.

Swinney said the program has planned for nearly every virus-related health scenario, including what it would do if Swinney tested positive.

He not sharing, though.

“It’s top secret. I’ve got it tucked away in a drawer in a glass case that says, `Break only if needed,”‘ he said.