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North Carolina survives Appalachian State upset bid as teams combine for most points in FBS game since 2019

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North Carolina survives Appalachian State upset bid as teams combine for most points in FBS game since 2019

North Carolina and Appalachian State started their 2022 seasons with one of the craziest games we’ll see in Week 1. The two teams traded haymakers in a furious back-and-forth over the game’s final minutes before the Tar Heels escaped Boone with a 63-61 victory. 

The 124 combined points are the most scored in an FBS game since UCLA’s 67-63 win at Washington State in 2019, but what made this game particularly unique was how the points were poured on late. Half (62) of the game’s total points came in the fourth quarter, including three touchdowns in the final 22 seconds of regulation. 

The wild finish was foreshadowed by two big swings earlier in the game, with each team building a comfortable lead at various points. Appalachian State went up 21-7 early in the second quarter, but then touted quarterback Drake Maye led three touchdown drives in the final 10 minutes of the first half to give North Carolina its first lead of the game at 28-21. That offensive success for the Tar Heels continued in the third quarter as the lead stretched to 41-21, setting up a series of dramatic and improbable events that unfolded in the game’s final 15 minutes. 

Appalachian State cut the lead to 41-28 on a long and emphatic touchdown drive, then got the ball right back when Maye fumbled on the first play of the ensuing series. The Mountaineers needed just three plays to turn the short field into another touchdown, cutting the lead to 41-35 with more than 10 minutes left to play. The next 3:13 of game time included yet another touchdown for both teams before the first and only punt of the second half gave the ball back to App State with 4:46 left down 49-42. That’s when a 38-yard touchdown run from Camerun Peoples tied the game at 49 with four minutes remaining. 

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North Carolina, as you might expect based on how the game had unfolded to that point, hit yet another splash play with a long touchdown catch-and-run from Maye to D.J. Jones to give the Tar Heels the lead once again at 56-49. 

Then came the most dramatic sequence of the game as Appalachian State scored a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining and elected to go for the 2-point conversion and the lead. However, Chase Brice’s pass sailed high of an open receiver and the failed 2-point try left the Mountaineers down 56-55. 

But the fireworks weren’t over yet. 

Appalachian State’s onside try was returned for a touchdown by North Carolina, which extended the Tar Heels lead to 63-55 but left the door open for Brice to get another crack at a game-tying score. A 47-yard kickoff return by Milan Tucker set Brice up in North Carolina territory. Two long passes later and the Mountaineers were in fact in the end zone for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 63-61 with nine seconds remaining. 

That’s when heartbreak set in for App State fans, who saw this team get off the mat time and time again. Brice was able to get loose from the pocket on a 2-point try, but was stopped short of the goal line. The first 2-point try was a chance to steal the lead and try to walk it off at home, while the second one was necessary to send the game to overtime. For both attempts to fall short in a game that already included a high level of drama and intensity only adds to the disappointment for a Mountaineers team that outscored its opponent 40-22 in the fourth quarter. 

Beyond the craziness of the game’s final quarter, here are three things to know about the win for North Carolina and what’s next for both teams. 

1. Maye builds his profile as a top ACC QB

Maye completed 24 of 36 passes for 352 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, while finishing second on the team in rushing with 76 yards on the ground and another score. In his first two games, the redshirt freshman has 646 yards passing and 9 TDs while completing 72.6% of his passes. The younger brother of former North Carolina basketball player Luke Maye (and son former North Carolina quarterback Mark Maye) is quickly staking his own claim to glory in the hearts and minds of Tar Heel fans, but his performance has exceeded his pedigree. Maye has lived up to the blue-chip projections he had coming out of high school and then some. With star wide receiver Josh Downs missing from Saturday’s win, Maye was challenged to rise to the occasion of leading the offense without its best weapon. That response, especially after facing a 21-7 hole in his first road start, suggests North Carolina is in great hands at quarterback in the post-Sam Howell era. 

2. App State should have no trouble moving on

If the Mountaineers had, say, ULM an easy nonconference game up next, then it would be a valid concern to think this mentally and emotionally exhausting experience would linger and impact their play next week. But the next game for App State is at Texas A&M, which means there’s no time to soak in its sorrows. That tough opponent should allow Shawn Clark’s team to flush this experience and move forward, because the 12th Man and a roster loaded with four- and five-tar talent awaits next week in College Station. 

3. The Tar Heels defense is a liability

The ceiling for North Carolina in 2022 lies with Maye and the offense, and that ceiling is finishing in first place in the ACC Coastal Division with a crack at the ACC Championship Game. However, the floor is determined by the team’s defense, which right now looks like it could be a 6-6 or 7-5 caliber group. This is two straight weeks that an offense from outside the Power Five has moved the ball effectively against a defense that, on paper, has talent but in practice has been worked at the point of attack and beat through the air. It’s a good thing North Carolina can score a lot of points, because it’s looking like it will need to in order to win in 2022. 

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.

The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.

The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.

Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.

The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.

But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.

Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.

“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”

It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.

Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.

The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”

“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”

The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.

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“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”

He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.

“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”

The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.

“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.

Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.

“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.

Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.

Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.

The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.

The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.

Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.

“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”

Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.

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The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.

Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”

Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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