Mudbugs have work to do after respite

BUBBLING TO GO: The Shreveport Mudbugs (shown enjoying bubble hockey) will complete their five-week road trip with two games at El Paso this weekend. (Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The Shreveport Mudbugs have won just seven of their first 20 games to start the 2022-23 season, but a week off may have given the squad an opportunity to get back in the North American Hockey League South Division race.

“I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet,” Mudbugs defenseman Alex Park said. “We have a lot of potential. It’s a long season. I’m excited to see us explode out of this break.”

Many players had the opportunity to go home after the Mudbugs (7-9-4) wrapped up a series at Lone Star on Nov. 12. Tonight, the season resumes at El Paso (8-10). With 20 games down and 40 to go, Shreveport enters the game in fifth place in the South (the top four make the playoffs).

“We’re underachieving,” head coach Jason Campbell said. “That’s not good enough. The guys know that. But even though we’re under .500, we have competed well against some really good teams and we know we’re in a battle. We have to figure out a way to string some wins together and get into a playoff spot.”

Much of the struggle revolves around an inability to put the puck in the net.

Shreveport ranks 28th of the 29 NAHL teams in offense (1.95 goals per game). The power play needs a spark, too, as the Mudbugs rank 26th in the league (11.8 percent).

“We’ve been playing OK,” Mudbugs forward Jaden Goldie said. “We have to find consistency and start burying our (scoring) opportunities.”

The Mudbugs’ place in the standings certainly didn’t affect the energy level as players returned to practice early in the week.

“We’re rip-roaring and ready to go,” Campbell said. “The boys are fired up.”

Shreveport made some moves during the holiday week. The Mudbugs traded forward Logan Valkama to Bismarck. They added a tender, forward Gavin Cherry (6-foot-4, 170 pounds).

Tonight begins the first series against the Rhino. After Saturday’s game, the Mudbugs will enjoy a home game (Dec. 2 vs. New Mexico) for the first time in six weeks.

Mudbugs at El Paso

Tonight and Saturday (8 p.m.)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Cowboys awaken in time, overpower Giants

COMEBACK KID:  Haughton product Dak Prescott led the Dallas offense to an impressive second-half rally Thursday in the Cowboys’ comeback win over New York. (Photo courtesy Dallas Cowboys).

JOURNAL SPORTS 

DALLAS — Thanksgiving naps are a holiday pleasure. For the Dallas Cowboys Thursday, their slumber was not enjoyable, but it was relatively short-lived, and not costly. 

The longer their game against NFC East rival New York went on, the more the Cowboys (8-3) seemingly awoke from their doldrums. A first half that saw them stumble into a deficit was overcome when Dallas surged in the second half to earn a 28-20 victory over the Giants (7-4), and a sweep of the regular-season series. 

“Yeah, we had to come out and fight,” Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said. “Definitely not a pretty first round. Definitely not the way you want to start but, for the most part we came out in that second half and dominated.” 

Even though it wasn’t his finest performance, Haughton native Dak Prescott was named the John Madden Player of the Game, a new Thanksgiving tradition instituted by the NFL. The Cowboys’ quarterback tipped his cap to the Dallas defense. 

“Our defense can win a lot of games, we just have to lean on them. Those guys played well, only allowed that late touchdown.” 

As for the offense, things got a lot better after halftime. 

“We got up (on) our own feet, got things rolling, and played to our standard, our expectations,” said Prescott. “(We) pretty much scored on every drive in the second half except the last one, and that’s what we can do when we play to our capabilities.” 

Through the first two quarters, he was a pedestrian 6-for-10 for 116 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 44.8 passer rating. But afterwards, Prescott completed 15-of-20 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half to finish the day with a respectable 91.1 passer rating. 

CeeDee Lamb topped the century mark in receiving yards for the second time this season, mixing in some highlight-reel catches on his way to 106-yard effort. Michael Gallup also had his best game of the year with some strong grabs that led to 63 receiving yards. Tight end Dalton Schultz got in on the act as well, equaling a personal best with two touchdowns. 

The Cowboys did some work on the ground as well, totaling 170 rushing yards, the fourth straight game they’ve surpassed 150. Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 92 yards on 16 carries while Tony Pollard chipped in 60 more on 18 attempts. 

Similarly, the Dallas defense improved as the day went along. Parsons added another two sacks, his sixth multi-sack game of the season, with defensive end Dorance Armstrong adding to his already career high in sacks, now totaling eight. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch led his side with eight tackles. 

The Cowboys held Saquon Barkley, who came into the game ranked second in the NFL in rushing, to a paltry 39 yards on 11 carries, while allowing the Giants to convert only 27 percent of their third-down opportunities. 

“I thought we did pretty good,” Parsons said. “He might have had one, maybe two explosive runs. But, for the most part, we contained him and made sure everything was short. They passed way more than we expected.” 

For the second straight week, Dallas also dominated the time of possession, 34:09 to 25:51. 

“Just getting off the field (is important),” said Parsons following eight-point win that was not as close as the final score indicated. “I think that is the key: the more we can get the ball back to the offense, it’s better for things to get going. The more drives we can get them, the more they can perfect their rhythm, the more they can put points on the board as you can see towards the end of the game.”


Cowboys hope to produce worthy encore in NFC East showdown

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The NFL is a strange beast. Teams look like Super Bowl contenders one week and lose to an afterthought the next. Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys will attempt to avoid providing the latest head-scratching moment in what’s been a wacky season.

“It’s the NFL and that’s what can happen,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said.

Fresh off a stunning road destruction of the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys host the New York Giants in the annual Thanksgiving affair at AT&T Stadium. It’s a battle of 7-3 squads and will determine who keeps the pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC East.

“Knowing how good of a team that is, and this being a division game, it says enough,” Prescott said. “These guys are locked in and we’re just trying to continue building on our focus from the game last week, and the way we prepared last week.”

The Cowboys played their best game of the season, perhaps multiple seasons in Minnesota on Sunday. The defense shut down the Vikings and the offense did what it wanted when it wanted en route to a 40-3 triumph.

Following the victory, giddy owner Jerry Jones was “unequivocally” confident his team could make a run at a Super Bowl appearance. 

Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy immediately returned the focus to the present.

“Talking about anything other than the Giants is a waste of time,” McCarthy said. “This is about beating the Giants.”

Dallas, with Cooper Rush under center, beat the Giants, 23-16, in Week 3.

The Cowboys will aim to exploit a Giants’ defense that’s been below average against the run. Last week, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas pile up more than 150 yards on Minnesota. Both running backs scored twice (Elliott two on the ground, Pollard two through the air).

The Giants, armed with Saquon Barkley and the No. 4 rushing offense in the league (157 yards per game) will face a Cowboys defense that has often struggled against the run.

The Cowboys have lost three straight Thanksgiving games at AT&T Stadium – 36-33 to Las Vegas, 2021; 41-16 to Washington in 2020; 26-15 to Buffalo in 2019. The last Turkey Day win for the Blue Stars was a 31-23 defeat of Washington in 2018.

Prescott has six touchdown passes and just one interception in his past three Thanksgiving appearances. 

Dak on Turkey Day

Former Haughton star Dak Prescott has lost three of his five Thanksgiving Day starts.

2016: W, 31-26 vs. Washington, 17-of-24 passing for 195 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.

2017: L, 28-6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 20-27 for 179 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT.

2018: W, 31-23 vs. Washington, 22-31 for 289 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

2019: L, 26-15 vs. Buffalo, 32-49 for 395 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

2021: L, 36-33 vs. Las Vegas, 32-47 for 375 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT 

Totals: Record, 2-3, 123-of-178 passing for 1,433 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Forget turkey, grab your popcorn to watch the quest for 100 units

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Here we are, with nearly six weeks remaining in the year, we stand less than 5 units from the Promised Land. Our goal for the season was a 100-unit profit and another jackpot last week puts us on the precipice.

Last week:

We bet golf – scored a profit.

We listed touchdown scorers – scored a profit.

We bet NFL games – scored a profit.

This week, we’re back on the links –albeit very light betting — as the DP World Tour begins its 2023 schedule. We also have a Thanksgiving bonus. We’ve listed four anytime NFL touchdown scorers.

Check my Facebook (Roy Lang III) at 11 o’clock Thursday morning for any possible game bets.

Regardless, we’ll see you back in Sunday’s edition.

Reminder: stay disciplined and get the right number.  

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Saturday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

BR: BetRivers 

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week: +6.32 units

Season total: +95.6 units

Season ROI: +31 percent 

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS 

GOLF 

EUROPEAN TOUR 

Joburg Open

 Win bet

Kristian Krogh Johannessen, .1 unit, +4400 (MGM) 

Top 20 bet

Luca Filippi, .1 unit +900 (DK)

NFL 

Thursday 

Anytime Touchdown Scorers 

 (.5-unit plays)

Josh Allen, Bills, +145 (CAE)

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, +128 (CAE)

CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys, +107 (CAE) 

.3-unit play

Vikings defense/special teams, +700 (MGM)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Hallelujah if Sunday’s team is the ‘real’ Saints

GOOD HABIT:  Saints’ tight end Juwan Johnson caught a touchdown, this 7-yarder in the second quarter, for the fifth straight game. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)

JOURNAL SPORTS 

NEW ORLEANS — Will the real New Orleans Saints please step forward?

Saints fans hope that’s what happened Sunday in a 27-20 homefield win over the reigning, but declining, Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (3-7).

A week after a meek outing, a 20-10 loss to the once-proud Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans rose up and got a career day from quarterback Andy Dalton while benefitting from a concussion that sidelined Rams’ QB Matthew Stafford after halftime.

Dalton hit a career-best 84 percent (21-25) of his passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, two in a pivotal third quarter that allowed the Saints to open a two-score advantage. That coincided with the New Orleans defense smothering the Stafford-less Rams, who managed only a pair of field goals in the second half.

Dalton completed 11 straight in the second half on the way to posting a career high QB rating of 149.6.

His longest throw was a 53-yard strike to rookie Chris Olave, unleashed just as Rams’ superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald arrived.

“When you turn it loose and get hit to the ground, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Dalton. “To have that outcome and I put the ball in a great spot, it was exactly how we had it planned by taking that shot down the field. We got the look that we wanted and he made a great play.”

Olave, the first-rounder from Ohio State, had five grabs for 102 yards. It was his third 100-yard game, one shy of the Saints’ rookie record held by Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer Marques Colston since 2006.

He said it was just a matter of time before the Saints took that downfield shot.

“Coach (Pete Carmichael, the offensive coordinator) called a really good play on third down. We practiced that on that look this week,” said Olave. “We got the look that we wanted. Andy (Dalton) threw a great ball. The line protected well and that was the outcome.”

Rams’ coach Sean McVay said that backbreaking play, at the 5:47 mark of the third period for a 24-14 advantage, typified his team’s day.

“Aaron (Donald) does a great job of winning quickly, and (Andy) Dalton gets it out, and we are just not right in position on the back end,” said McVay. “You do not take away credit from those guys (the Saints).”

The Saints (4-7) snapped a two-game losing skid while Dalton gave way to Taysom Hill frequently. Although Hill did not have the dynamic day he did in the New Orleans win over Las Vegas three weeks ago, his involvement revved up the winners’ attack – leading the ground game with 52 yards on nine carries.

“It is part of how we play offense,” said Dalton, a 14-year veteran in his first season in New Orleans. “When you can play that way and have success with me in there and Taysom in there, the defense doesn’t know what is going to happen next.”

A Saints team that has topped the NFL in penalties most of the season drew only two flags for 15 yards Sunday.

“We didn’t do things that were going to beat ourselves today,” said head coach Dennis Allen. “That was good to see.”

Although he’s just a rookie, Olave recognized the dire nature of the Saints’ standing entering Sunday.

“It was much needed. We had consecutive bad games. To get a win against the reigning champs was huge. I feel like it is a great step that we can take forward.”

New Orleans, which won for the 400th time in franchise history, heads to San Francisco for its next contest.


Saints, Cowboys look to get back on track

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The two most popular NFL teams in the area have some work to do. The New Orleans Saints are on the brink of losing all hope and the Dallas Cowboys are still licking their wounds from a disastrous finish on the not-so-frozen tundra.

The 3-7 Saints host defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles on Sunday at the Caesar’s Superdome (noon, Fox) having lost two straight and four of their past five. Head coach Dennis Allen will move forward with Andy Dalton at quarterback, but injuries remain a bigger issue.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan will miss Sunday and is joined by a group that includes at least Marcus Davenport, J.T. Gray, James Hurst, Mark Ingram, Pete Werner and Marshon Lattimore.

“For the most part in this league, you have to have guys that are backups that are able to come in and play,” Saints defensive lineman Kentavius Street told the media. “It’s just kind of part of the game. Everybody deals with it at some point.”

The good news: The Rams haven’t fared well in their defense of the Vince Lombardi Trophy. They are 3-6 and carry a three-game slide into the Big Easy.

“They can be an explosive offense, they’ve got a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, they’ve got some wideouts that can still catch the ball and some of their offensive linemen that started last year are playing in our game,” Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen said. “(But) it’s not about them, it’s about what we do. And so the focus has just been on our fundamentals, our focus and the execution of the game plan.”

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are 6-3, but are mired in third place in the NFC East. Last week, they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter for the first time in franchise history (195-0 previously). Dallas must put the loss to the Packers in the rear-view mirror as it faces the hottest team in the NFL on Sunday.

“We’re in a good spot,” cornerback Anthony Brown told the media. “Even if you look back to last year, we were 7-2 at the time, we’re 6-3. We could easily be 7-2 or more, even 8-1. Just a few plays here and there that didn’t go our way.

“We let that game in Green Bay last week get away, 14 in the fourth quarter. We’ve just got to keep our minds strong and stay confident.”

Minnesota (8-1) will host the Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium (3:25 p.m., Fox) riding seven straight victories.

Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott has missed the past two games with a knee injury, but could find himself back in the rotation with Tony Pollard again Sunday.

“When I think of Zeke, I think of the identity of our football team, kind of wrapped into a player,” Dallas offensive lineman Zack Martin said. “Just, his willingness to do anything asked of him, his physical style of play … he brings all of that to our football team. It rubs off on guys.” 

Today’s games

Saints vs. Rams

Noon (Fox), Caesar’s Superdome

Cowboys at Vikings

3:25 p.m. (Fox), U.S. Bank Stadium

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Local NFL stars getting healthy at right time

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The local roster of NFL players is getting back to full song. Players like Marquez Stevenson, Rodarius Williams, Tre’Davious White and Brandon Wilson haven’t played a snap this season due to major injuries. However, the return of every player seems imminent.

LOCAL NFL STARS: 2022 Week 10 

Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina (22, WR, Parkway)

Corralled one pass – a 43-yarder – on two targets in a primetime win against Atlanta.  

Israel Mukuamu, Dallas (22, S, Parkway)

Played two snaps on defense at Green Bay.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (29, QB, Haughton)

Completed 27 or 46 passes against the Packers for 265 yards and three touchdowns. However, two interceptions proved costly. Definitely has not found his groove in 2022. 

Robert Rochell, Los Angeles Rams (24, DB, Fair Park)

Played his first snap on defense since Week 5, but it was just a single snap. 

L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City (25, DB, Minden)

Piled up six tackles against Jacksonville. For the season, opposing quarterbacks are 46-of-63 passing for 459 yards and three touchdowns with Sneed in coverage. 

Marquez Stevenson, Buffalo (23, WR, Northwood)

Finally designated to return from injured reserve. He’s returned to practice and a 21-day window which allows him to practice, however, has opened. The team could activate him prior to facing Cleveland, but that’s likely to happen more toward the end of the window. 

Trent Taylor, Cincinnati (28, WR, Evangel)

Taylor will look to continue the momentum from his Week 9 performance as the Bengals come off their off week. 

Jerry Tillery, Kansas City (25, DL, Evangel)

Released by the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10, the Golden Domer was claimed off waiver by the Chiefs. 

Ar’Darius Washington, Baltimore (22, S, Evangel)

Played in one game this season. Currently on the Ravens’ practice squad. 

Devin White, Tampa Bay (24, LB, North Webster)

Big week consisted of nine tackles, one for a loss, and three quarterback hits. 

Tre’Davious White, Buffalo (27, DB, Green Oaks)

Is still sidelined. Is expected to be out Sunday, putting further doubt into when the former LSU star will return to the field. 

Greedy Williams, Cleveland (24, DB, Calvary)

Played just three snaps on defense at Miami in Week 10. 

Rodarius Williams, New York Giants (25, DB, Calvary)

Activated from injured reserve. Could see action soon. 

Brandon Wilson, Cincinnati (28, DB, Calvary Baptist)

Activated off the PUP list and returned to practice ahead of a matchup at Pittsburgh. 

Donovan Wilson, Dallas Cowboys (27, S, Woodlawn)

Played 81 percent of the defensive snaps against Green Bay. He made seven tackles. With Wilson in coverage, opposing quarterbacks are 16 of 26 for 103 yards with one touchdown and one interception this season.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


We’re all Swifties this Sunday

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

D’Andre Swift leads our anytime touchdown scorers this week at +235. We’re eyeing two more players and three defenses/special teams in the effort to post another winning week.

For the NFL spread picks, check out my Facebook (Roy Lang III) page on Sunday. 

Good luck! 

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices! 

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

BR: BetRivers

LANG’S LOCKS

Season total: +89.3 units

Season ROI: +30 percent

SUNDAY’s SELECTIONS 

NFL 

Anytime Touchdown Scorers 

(.5-unit plays)

D’Andre Swift, Lions, +235 (CAE)

Josh Jacobs, Raiders, +110 (DK)

A.J. Brown, Eagles, +128 (CAE) 

(.3-unit plays)

Patriots defense/special teams, +650 (DK)

Jets defense/special teams, +800 (DK)

Saints defense/special teams, +650 (DK)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Break gives Mudbugs chance to refresh struggling offense

REST TO REFRESH: The Shreveport Mudbugs enjoy a week off before they complete an extended road trip. The team needs to find a way to generate some offense upon its return. (Photo by CHRISTI LANG, Journal Sports)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports 

Following Saturday’s game at Lone Star, most of the Shreveport Mudbugs scurried home to take advantage of a rare pre-holiday break in their North American Hockey League schedule. 

Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell believes the break has come at a “good” time. 

Shreveport is exactly one-third of its way through the regular season. The Mudbugs have won just seven of their 20 games and currently reside in fifth place in the South Division. However, that is a bit misleading as they have played at least four more games than each of the teams closest in the South Division. 

“They’ve been going hard since August,” Campbell said of his team. “The challenge is for them to stay on top of their conditioning and come back refreshed and healthy and ready to go. We have to find a way, and it’s going to start in practice, to be able to compete like we did Friday (3-2 victory against the Brahmas) for 120-plus minutes every weekend.” 

Last Friday night’s overtime win at Lone Star is Shreveport’s only victory in the first six games of the eight-game road trip. The extended time away from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum ends with a post-turkey doubleheader at El Paso on Nov. 25-26. 

The Mudbugs return to the George to face New Mexico on Dec. 2-3. 

Shreveport must find a way to score goals. The Mudbugs (1.95) are one of just two teams in the 29-team league to post fewer than two goals per game. 

One of the reasons for the punchless offense is a power play that’s been more of a burden than a force. Shreveport ranks 28th in the NAHL on the power play (11.8 percent). The Mudbugs have scored nine power-play goals in 76 attempts, but have also allowed six short-handed goals (worst in the league). 

“You have to outwork your opponent and we haven’t done that all the time,” Campbell said. “We’ve done that sometimes. Maybe there is a mental block there on the power play, ‘Hey, we’re up a man, let’s take our time and maybe we don’t have to outwork our opponent.’” 

A stellar penalty-kill unit has helped mask the offensive woes. Shreveport kills penalties at an 87 percent clip – second best in the league. 

“All you can do is keep working through it,” Campbell said. “Our guys are going to work, us coaches are going to work to get our power play better. We have to because it’s going to be huge over the next 40 games.” 

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


We collect another golf winner, sweep NFL player TDs

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Pardon me if you’ve heard this before: We had another big week.

We nailed Tony Finau at the Houston Open and all three of our top NFL touchdown scorers found paydirt. The race to 100 units is still heating up as we climbed over an 89-unit profit on the season.

The good news: We’ve been rolling even though our NFL picks against the number haven’t been up to par. Over the past seven weeks of this calendar year, the NFL is going to be crucial if we’re going to hit the 100-unit level.

The golf schedule is about to thin out. This is the last week of a full-field event on the PGA Tour for 2022. Only two events remain on the European Tour.

Let’s get this done.

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Saturday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices! 

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

BR: BetRivers 

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week: +3.35units

Season total: +89.3 units

Season ROI: +30 percent 

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

GOLF 

PGA TOUR 

RSM Classic 

Top 20 bets

Joseph Bramlett, .3 units, +750 (DK)

Michael Thompson, .3 units, +650 (FD)

Michael Gligic, .2 units, +1000 (FD)

Zac Blair, .2 units, +1100 (DK)

Paul Haley II, .2 units, +1100 (FD) 

EUROPEAN TOUR 

DP World Tour Championship 

Top 10 bets

Adrian Meronk, .3 units, +490 (FD)

Jorge Campillo, .2 units, +1100 (FD) 

Top 20 bets

Jorge Campillo, .6 units, +320 (FD)

Matthieu Pavon, .5 units, +310 (FD)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Cowboys author historic flop; Saints lay another egg

The Dez Bryant-caught-it game is a pill the Dallas Cowboys may never be able to swallow, and it may give fans the shakes at the mention of the Green Bay Packers or Lambeau Field. Although Sunday’s game wasn’t a postseason affair, and it didn’t end the Cowboys season, it may be a while before the effects exit the system.   

Against the previously lifeless Packers, the Cowboys blew a 14-point lead to start the fourth quarter for the first time in franchise history (they entered Sunday 195-0 in such games) and dropped an 31-28 overtime affair at Lambeau to put themselves squarely behind the 8-ball in the NFC East. 

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints remain punchless. They traveled to Pittsburgh and fell to the Steelers, 20-10. 

The Saints dropped to 3-7 and need a turnaround of epic proportions — and a lot of help — to get back into the race in the subpar NFC South. 

Instead of a glorious return to Green Bay for former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys head man watched his team author an historic meltdown. 

The Packers entered Sunday with five straight losses. 

“(McCarthy) was disappointed that we didn’t take that step that we’ve talked about — laying another brick and building on what we’ve accomplished to this point,” quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw three touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday, said. “It’s tough. It was a playoff environment. You wanna win. All of them hurt when you don’t win or capitalize or do what you expect to do, but you gotta remember it’s just one game.” 

The Cowboys won the coin flip in overtime, and drove to the Packers’ 35 before they failed on fourth-and-3. Aaron Rodgers helped Green Bay move deep into Cowboys territory to set up Mason Crosby’s chip-shot game-winner. 

Dallas dropped to 6-3 and is mired in third place in the East, behind the 7-2 New York Giants and unblemished Philadelphia. Up next: A trip to play the red-hot Minnesota Vikings (8-1). 

“For us, it’s about sticking together, knowing where we’re going and who we are,” Prescott said. “It was a tough game, a tough environment and we’ve got to learn from this and make sure that we grow.” 

The Saints must do the same. Quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 174 yards and a score, but was foiled by two interceptions while the Saints committed six separate penalties that gave Pittsburgh a first down. 

“The performance wasn’t good enough really in all phases,” New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen said. “We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t coach well enough. We have to do a better job. We fought ourselves back, got back into the game at halftime, felt like we were in a good position, and we really just didn’t do anything in the second half.” 

Dalton’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson came 19 seconds before halftime and helped New Orleans erase an early 10-point deficit. 

However, that was the only touchdown of the day against the Steelers, who were sparked by the return of T.J. Watt. New Orleans was held scoreless in the second half and running back Alvin Kamara was limited to 26 rushing yards on eight carries. 

“It’s really frustrating,” Dalton said. “We know the potential of what we can be and what we can do. To have games go like this in consecutive weeks, it’s tough.”

 Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Mudbugs miss opportunity to corral momentum

(Photo by CHRISTI LANG, Journal Sports)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas — Friday, the Shreveport Mudbugs set the table for a memorable weekend with Ryan Burke’s dazzling last-second goal to end an 0-for-November power-play drought and send their game with North American Hockey League-best Lone Star into overtime. 

In the extra session, Jaden Goldie sent home the game-winner to snap the club’s five-game losing streak.

However, the Mudbugs were unable to complete the statement weekend. Instead, they left the NYTEX Sports Centre with just two points – to Lone Star’s three – after Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

“It was the same old story — we played OK (Saturday), but the power play had some chances and we just didn’t finish and the PK gave one up. We needed more goals,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “We just didn’t have the push we had Friday.”

Shreveport did end its power-play drought in the opener, but it took pulling the goalie to create a 6-on-4 advantage. Saturday, the Mudbugs failed on all five chances with the man-advantage and were beset by turnovers in their defensive zone.

“Most teams protect the middle of the ice, especially this team,” Campbell said. “If you make a soft play, they’re probably going to be coming right back at you.”

Three weekends into their eight-game, five-week road trip, Shreveport will enjoy a week off before heading to El Paso on Nov. 25-26.

“They’ve been going hard since August,” said Campbell, whose team dropped to fifth place in the South Division.

“The break is probably coming at a really good time. The challenge after the break is to learn to push for 120 minutes or more every weekend.” 

Last week’s 3 Stars

  1. Jaden Goldie, a very solid season continued with the game-winning goal in overtime Friday to snap the Mudbugs’ five-game losing streak.
  2. Ryan Burke, broke the Mudbugs’ prolonged power-play drought with the timeliest of goals Friday.
  3. Drake Morse, opened the scoring Friday night. 

NAHL South Division standings

Lone Star (14-1-2), 30 points

Oklahoma (12-2-1), 25

New Mexico (11-4-1), 23

Amarillo (9-6-1), 19

Shreveport (7-9-4), 18

El Paso (8-8-0), 16

Odessa (7-8-1), 15

Corpus Christi (3-13-2), 8

*top four make the playoffs

Team leaders

Goals: Logan Gotinsky, Niklas Miller, Garrett Steele, 5

Assists: Jaden Goldie, Drake Morse, Logan Heroux, 8

Points: Goldie, Morse, 11

Penalty Minutes: Maksim Sushchynski, Miller 62

Game-winning goals: Goldie 2

Goals-against average: Tommy Aitken, 2.32

Save percentage: Aitken, .912

Up next

The Mudbugs will enjoy a rare mid-November week off.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


McCarthy, Cowboys return to Lambeau; Saints have shot at first place

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The NFL is a strange beast. At 6-2, the Dallas Cowboys are still chasing unblemished Philadelphia (8-0) in the NFC East. In the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints enter Sunday’s action 3-6 – and they have a chance to move into first place in their division.

The Cowboys, fresh from their off week, travel to face the struggling Green Bay Packers (3-6). The backfield may feature another one-man show this week as the status of running back Ezekiel Elliott remains up in the air.

Tony Pollard, normally part of a stout two-back system, did just fine on his own in Week 8. With Elliott shelved with a knee injury, Pollard rattled off 131 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-29 victory against the Chicago Bears.

Today’s visit to Lambeau Field signals the return of Mike McCarthy. Currently the Cowboys head coach, McCarthy spent 13 seasons (2006-18) at the helm in Green Bay.

“Not a lot has to be said about this week,” Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We know what our coach means to us. We know how long he was up there, we know how special going back is going to be for him.”

McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers, still the quarterback for the Packers, led the team to a Super Bowl championship to cap the 2010 season. McCarthy posted a 125-77-2 mark, but was fired after a 4-7-1 start in 2018.

“I’ve got great memories about Green Bay and my time there but no, I mean, I’m four years removed from working there and I’m really looking forward to taking our team up there,” McCarthy said. “I want to win the game.”

Meanwhile, the Saints had a short week of preparation after an anemic effort against Baltimore on Monday night (27-13 loss) in the Superdome. Sunday, New Orleans visits another struggling club, the 2-6 Pittsburgh Steelers.

“More consistency is what we’re looking for,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen said this week. “We haven’t done it consistently enough where we’ve put offense, defense, special teams together and we’ve had too many games where there has been a phase or two that hasn’t operated in a way that we think gives us an opportunity to win.”

The Saints enter Week 10 one game behind Tampa Bay (4-5 Bucs host Seattle on Sunday), a half-game behind Atlanta (4-5) and tied with Carolina (3-6). 

Saints at Pittsburgh

Sunday, noon (Fox) 

Cowboys at Green Bay

Sunday, 3:25 p.m. (Fox)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Eagle soaring, Eagle down: Taylor does it all in Week 9; Tillery waived

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Could Trent Taylor be finding his groove with the Cincinnati Bengals? He was a jack of all trades in Week 9 against Carolina. He carried the ball for the first time this season (three times for 18 yards), hauled in a season-high two passes for 14 yards, returned kicks for the first time this season (2 for 15 yards) and added 52 yards on three punt returns.

The former Evangel and Louisiana Tech star played 35 percent of the Bengals’ offensive snaps. His previous high this season had been 19 snaps.

The news in Los Angeles wasn’t as good for another former Eagle. Jerry Tillery, a former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers, was waived by the team. Coach Brandon Staley cited “competing visions.”

Tillery did not play more than half the defensive snaps in any game this season. The Notre Dame product can be claimed by another team in the league beginning Monday. 

LOCAL NFL STARS: 2022 Week 9

Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina (22, WR, Parkway)

The former Panther hauled in his first touchdown pass of the season in Week 9 – a 21-yarder from Baker Mayfield. In Thursday night’s Week 10 game against Atlanta, Marshall caught just a single pass, but it went for 43 yards. 

Israel Mukuamu, Dallas (22, S, Parkway)

Cowboys had Week 9 off. With Mukuamu in coverage this season, opposing quarterbacks are 5-of-6 of 29 yards. 

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (29, QB, Haughton)

Through the Week 9 bye, Prescott has played three games. He’s 54-of-81 passing for 591 yards and three touchdowns. He’s thrown two interceptions. 

Robert Rochell, Los Angeles Rams (24, DB, Fair Park)

Was limited to only special teams in Week 9 against Tampa Bay. 

L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City (25, DB, Minden)

Tallied five tackles and two passes defended against Tennessee. For the season, opposing quarterbacks are 39-of-56 passing for 390 yards and a touchdown with Sneed in coverage. 

Marquez Stevenson, Buffalo (23, WR, Northwood)

Still on injured reserve after foot surgery without a timetable to return.

Trent Taylor, Cincinnati (28, WR, Evangel)

Taylor did it all for the Bengals in Week 9. 

Jerry Tillery, Los Angeles Chargers (25, DL, Evangel)

The Chargers have moved on from a former first-round pick, who has been waived. He will be eligible to be claimed by another team Monday. 

Ar’Darius Washington, Baltimore (22, S, Evangel)

Played in one game this season. Currently on the Ravens’ practice squad. 

Devin White, Tampa Bay (24, LB, North Webster)

Posted a season-low four tackles against the Rams, but has played every snap on defense for the Buccaneers this season.

Tre’Davious White, Buffalo (27, DB, Green Oaks)

White’s return after an absence of nearly one year seems imminent. Perhaps Sunday is the day. 

Greedy Williams, Cleveland (24, DB, Calvary)

Browns were off in Week 9.

Rodarius Williams, New York Giants (25, DB, Calvary)

Hopes to return to action following the torn ACL suffered early last season. 

Brandon Wilson, Cincinnati (28, DB, Calvary Baptist)

On the PUP list. 

Donovan Wilson, Dallas Cowboys (27, S, Woodlawn)

Cowboys were off in Week 9. With Wilson in coverage, opposing quarterbacks are 15 of 25 for 95 yards with one touchdown and one interception this season.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


How pro anglers relax

So, you think you want to be a professional bass fisherman? Today we’ll look at what and how some of the greatest anglers in the world spend their off-season or down time.

After being on the road for weeks and months at a time, away from family, pro anglers are looking to slow down and catch their breath. Because of the everyday grind and dedication it takes to compete at the highest level, anglers need to recharge their batteries. Let’s look at the different ways these guys re-energize themselves and get ready for another long season of fishing. 

Most professional anglers grew up either in the woods or on the water. Most have an extensive past of hunting big game, ducks, squirrels, or hogs. Some might have even been only a few years out of diapers when they shot their first deer. Nothing brings them back down to earth more than spending quality time at their favorite hunting camp.

It’s not about the kill as much as it is about just getting away from the pressure and demands anglers are under during the regular season. It’s going out and sitting in a deer stand where all you can hear is the wind blowing, squirrels barking, and the cracking of the sunflower seeds they’re eating. Yes, it’s true they do fall asleep once in a while when the deer aren’t moving, but that’s OK.

They take no phone calls and are unavailable for interviews. The only calls they take are from their publicist or from one of their many sponsors – oh, maybe their wives or children. Sometimes they won’t even talk to their friends!

It’s the time back at the camp talking to their hunting buddies about the big deer they saw or missed, while enjoying some of the great meals, that make a hunting camp special. It’s the stories they tell year after year about previous hunts, stories they’ve already told time and time again. But no one really cares, because the stories (lies) just get bigger and better with every passing year. 

Among the many professional anglers, some would rather hunt waterfowl and sit in a duck blind for hours — again telling more stories about how many ducks they’ve killed over the years, or discussing why there’s not as many ducks as there used to be.  

One thing that makes a good duck hunt — the biscuits and sausage they cook and share in the blind while waiting on the next group of birds to come into the hole they are sitting on. One common theme for any hunting trip is the food. For some reason, hunting camp or duck blind food is always better than any meal you can get anywhere else on the planet. Not sure why, but it’s true!

I’ve always found strange that another way some of the pros relax is they go fishing! Yes, I said fishing! Who would have thought that since these guys are on the water trying to make a living from January through September, that fishing would be a way for them to relax?

Let me help you understand this. There’s a huge difference between fishing tournaments and fun fishing. Some of the pros use this time to test new lures they’ve been involved with designing for the companies they’re representing like Strike King and Berkley. This is something pro anglers really enjoy, designing baits that will hit the market one day with their name on it.

Fun fishing for some of these guys is a trip into the marsh or saltwater fishing for speckled trout and redfish. This is when they can be with their family or friends and just enjoy a day on the water without cameras or a boat official watching their every move.

The life of a professional bass fisherman can be a hectic one. There’s a lot of pressure to not only perform at a high level but put food on the table for their families. The stress is off the chart for all of these guys because if they’re not successful, they will be eliminated from the pro tour and replaced by another up and coming young angler.

Just because you make it to the highest level of bass fishing, does not guarantee you a spot for life. Anglers still must go out and perform. This is why they need that down time to relax and get away from the everyday grind it takes to be a professional bass fisherman.

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen. 

Contact Steve at sgraf26@gmail.com


Slumping Mudbugs face NAHL’s best this weekend

STEELE THE ONE?: Shreveport Mudbugs captain Garrett Steele and his team will attempt to end a five-game losing streak at rival Lone Star tonight. (Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs Hockey)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

If the Shreveport Mudbugs hoped for some sort of a breather on their current road trip, they need to look beyond this weekend’s trip to North Richland Hills, Texas.

The Mudbugs have won just six of 18 games this season and roll into the Metroplex on Friday to begin a two-game set with the Lone Star Brahmas, the team with the best winning percentage in the North American Hockey League.

“They’re systematically sound and they work hard,” Shreveport head coach Jason Campbell said before the first meeting of the season between South Division rivals.

The Mudbugs (6-8-4) look to end a five-game losing skid when they enter the NYTEX Sports Centre for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. The Brahmas have not lost a game in regulation or overtime since Sept. 16 (11-0-1 during that span).

“We’ve been working on getting quicker, but staying efficient,” Campbell said. “We need to generate more offense, get more shots on net, more traffic and more second opportunities.”

Lone Star goaltender Arthur Smith sits atop the NAHL’s goaltending leaders, and it isn’t close. Smith leads with a 0.73 goals-against average (1.62 is next-best) and a .961 save-percentage (.944 is second-best).

The Mudbugs hope to get their power play on track. Shreveport has not scored on its past 20 opportunities with at least a one-man advantage.

“(Our power play) was better (in New Mexico),” Campbell said. “There are still plays to be made there and we’re not recognizing those reads, but the guys are working through it.

“We’re going to be tested. They have a high-pressure penalty kill. I’m excited to see them play against their PK.”

Lone Star hasn’t exactly been rolling on the power play, either. The Brahmas rank 24th of the 29 NAHL teams.

“I don’t even look at those numbers, because they have good movement and they just haven’t found the net yet,” Campbell said. “I don’t want us to be the team they find the net on.” 

Mudbugs at Lone Star

Tonight and Saturday

7:30 p.m., NYTEX Sports Centre, North Richland Hills, Texas

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


SPOTLIGHT: Pierce left lasting impact on Demon athletics

By JASON PUGH, Special to the Journal

NATCHITOCHES – Even as Jerry Pierce’s titles changed and his duties increased, he remained a constant presence around Northwestern State athletics.

Pierce, who served NSU in various leadership capacities inside and outside athletics, died Tuesday at age 83 after a brief illness. He had served as executive vice president for the past year, assisting Dr. Marcus Jones, the ninth Northwestern president that benefitted from Pierce’s skills and knowledge.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Friday with a 2 p.m. funeral service Saturday at First Baptist Church in Natchitoches, located at 508 2nd Street.

Having spent the final 32-plus years of his distinguished Northwestern State career as the university’s vice president of external affairs, Pierce’s impact on athletics at his alma mater stayed visible.

“This is a major loss to the institution as well as to Northwestern State athletics,” Jones said. “Jerry has been a part of the fabric of the institution since the mid-60s and has done so much to further the institution and athletics in particular. His impact in the political landscape, higher education and athletics is something rare, and it will be missed.”

Pierce’s affiliation with Northwestern State athletics dated to his undergraduate tenure at the university. A Springhill native, Pierce served as a manager/trainer under legendary NSU football coach Jack Clayton before graduating with a journalism degree in 1961. Including his undergraduate tenure, Pierce was an integral part of Northwestern State Athletics for 61 years, far surpassing any other tenure within the department.

After a four-year stint as the assistant state editor, assistant layout editor and eventually the executive sports editor at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Pierce returned to Natchitoches in September 1965 and began a 57-year career at his alma mater.

Upon his return to Natchitoches, Pierce spent two years as the university’s sports information director, re-establishing his deep athletic ties to NSU and the state. He quickly moved up the university’s administrative ladder, remaining involved in athletics with oversight and management roles that grew in stature.

From his return to campus in 1965 until Tuesday, Pierce’s imprint and impact on Northwestern State athletics was never-ending.

“NSU has lost one of the most enduring and engaging figures in its 138-year history,” said former NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who led the department for more than 25 years while reporting to Pierce.

“Jerry was many things to many people – faculty member, administrator, mentor, orator, writer, arbitrator, leader, confidante, humorist, family man and most importantly, a friend. His influence over the years was evident through success in so many areas vital to the mission of the university, including fund-raising, athletics and alumni relations to name a few. His passing leaves an irreplaceable void at his beloved alma mater.”

The combination of Pierce and Burke oversaw arguably the most successful quarter-century run in Northwestern State athletics.

The Pierce-Burke partnership produced 107 NCAA postseason individual competitors, 94 national awards honoring academic and athletic success, 25 NCAA postseason appearances, 25 Southland Conference championships and 20 Southland Conference Tournament championships.

His influence spread across the landscape of the Southland Conference once NSU entered the league.

“Mr. Pierce was a tremendous asset and a go-to for anything I needed insight on within the UL System or that was percolating in the legislature or anywhere on the Louisiana political scene,” said former Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett, who served in that role from 2002 until earlier this year. “Jerry was always connected and beneficial to myself, certainly. He helped me make some decisions in my role as commissioner in a way that helped the conference. It is a huge loss.

“I don’t know that we will ever see anyone like him again in that role. We are all better for having known him and for working with him.”

During his tenure as an NSU administrator, Pierce’s employee tree stretched high and wide. Among those whose administrative careers brought them to Natchitoches are current Auburn Director of Athletics John Cohen and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey.

Cohen got his head coaching start with the NSU baseball program while Sankey spent two-and-a-half years (1989-91) in a variety of roles at Northwestern State. Sankey began his NSU career as an administrative intern and head golf coach and later became NSU’s first director of compliance and academic services.

“Jerry was an important contributor for decades at Northwestern State,” Sankey said in a statement. “I enjoyed my relationship with him and admired his longtime service, commitment and dedication to the university. Jerry will be missed but certainly will be long remembered.”

While remaining a presence around and in the operation of Northwestern State athletics was part of his job description, Pierce’s passion for athletics literally was on display in Prather Coliseum for years.

Pierce, often cited as the father of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, was responsible for the creation of the Hall of Fame display in Prather Coliseum in 1972. He was chairman of the LSHOF from 1971-90, when he was promoted from assistant to the president to vice president of external affairs at NSU.

While those artifacts moved to the palatial Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum in downtown Natchitoches in 2013, Pierce’s contributions did not go unnoticed.

In June, Pierce was honored during the 50th anniversary of the Hall’s time in Natchitoches, receiving a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at the Natchitoches Events Center. It was a fitting tribute for a man who was named one of 20 athletic administrators and coaches named as “Who’s Who In Louisiana Sports” by the Times-Picayune in 1993, standing alongside New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, LSU director of athletics Joe Dean, then-LSU basketball coach Dale Brown and legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson.

“It did not take long after arriving in Natchitoches for me to see what Jerry Pierce meant to Northwestern State University and its athletic program,” current NSU Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian said. “The same can be said for what he meant to Natchitoches and to the state of Louisiana as a whole. His impact was indelible and the legacy he left will be felt for many generations.”

During his nearly six-decade-long NSU tenure, Pierce helped generations of Northwestern State student-athletes and was a key part of many milestone moments, including helping NSU become the first Louisiana institution to offer women full athletic scholarships in 1975 and paving the way for the NSU athletic program to attain Division I membership two years later.

Pierce earned inclusion in the N-Club Hall of Fame as he was presented the N-Club Leadership Award in 2018.

The award was fitting, given Pierce’s reputation across campus and the Natchitoches community.

“I would not have been athletic director at Northwestern State if it weren’t for Jerry Pierce,” said Tynes Hildebrand, a former Demon basketball coach who was NSU’s director of athletics from 1983-96. “He went to (NSU President) Dr. (Joseph) Orze and said, ‘A.L. Williams is leaving the AD/head football coach position to go to Louisiana Tech, and the guy you need to hire is Tynes Hildebrand.’”

Hildebrand remained appreciative to his longtime friend, whom he first crossed paths with “in the early 1960s,” when Pierce worked with Clayton’s legendary NSU football teams.

Throughout his 13-year tenure as AD, Hildebrand relied on Pierce as a sounding board and to deliver his messages in a concise, direct way.

“When I had problems, I would go to Jerry,” Hildebrand said. “All of those years, I could go to Jerry for advice because Jerry’s advice was always good. That was everybody he dealt with.

“He could advise the presidents well. He could advise the VPs well. He could advise the ADs very well. I would use him a lot when I needed to talk to my coaches. He was very good with that. I would tell him what I’d like him to talk about and he would deliver it in a way that was very direct but very good for them.”

Contact Jason at pughj@nsula.edu


Henley leads up to 49-1 winner

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Golf season will soon wind down, but we’re not slowing down with trips to cash big tickets at the window. Russell Henley’s victory at Mayakoba helped us secure another bomb – a 49-1 winner. We needed it, because our football picks went 1-3. However, we still had a big profit and the race to a 100-unit year is heating up (up more than 85 units, year-to-date).

Back to the links for some PGA Tour and DP World Tour selections.

Football selections come later in the week. Good luck! 

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Saturday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices! 

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

BR: BetRivers

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week: +3.89 units

Season total: +85.9 units

Season ROI: 29.4 percent 

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

GOLF 

PGA TOUR 

Houston Open 

Win bets

Keith Mitchell, .1 unit, +6150 (FD)

Tony Finau, .1 unit, +1800 (MGM) 

Top 20 bets

Joseph Bramlett, .4 units, +650 (DK)

Dean Burmester, .3 units, +260 (FD)

Stephan Jaeger, .3 units, +500 (FD)

Charley Hoffman, .2 units, +650 (FD) 

EUROPEAN TOUR 

Nedbank Golf Challenge

Win bet

Branden Grace, .2 units, +2600 (FD) 

Top 20 bets

Justin Walters, .6 units, +290 (FD)

George Coetzee, .5 units, +160 (FD)

Connor Syme, .4 units, +210 (FD)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Ravens run over Saints, stymie New Orleans offense in romp

WHIFF:  Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson evades New Orleans’ Tyrann Mathieu Monday night as the Ravens ran for 188 yards and dominated the Saints. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)

JOURNAL SPORTS

NEW ORLEANS – Saints fans had their choice Monday night.

Gripe about the defense, which couldn’t reign in the Baltimore Ravens running game?

Or welp about an offense that never clicked, managing only two field goals until the game’s final minutes?

The correct response: all of the above.

The Saints sank to 3-6, and missed a chance to be one of three NFC South teams at 4-5, by being pounded by Baltimore, 27-13, at the Caesars Superdome.

The Ravens (6-3) had 38 minutes of possession time as the Saints defense could not come up with stops. Baltimore led 14-3 at halftime after New Orleans quarterback Andy Dalton overthrew a wide-open receiver in the end zone in the final minute of the second period and couldn’t find anyone on the next two downs, forcing a field goal.

The Saints never got closer. Their only TD came on a 41-yard Dalton to Juwan Jackson pass with 4:13 left.


Saints aim to halt primetime futility at Superdome

GOOD KAMARA WORK:  When the Saints host the Ravens tonight, they will count on another productive outing from versatile Alvin Kamara (41).  (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports 

During a 14-season span — 2007 to 2020 – the New Orleans Saints were an underdog at the Superdome a total of 12 times. In the past season-and-a-half, the Saints have played as a home underdog eight times. Monday night’s matchup against Baltimore will make No. 9. 

The Superdome used to be one of the most intimidating places in the NFL – especially at night. However, last season the Saints lost all three home primetime games (vs. Buffalo, Miami and Dallas – all as an underdog). 

The Ravens (5-3) and quarterback Lamar Jackson enter Monday night’s 7:15 game on ESPN as a favorite of less than a field goal. Jackson enters the game with 17 total touchdowns (15 passing, two rushing). 

“There’s mobile quarterbacks, then there’s Lamar Jackson,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said. “You put him in a different bracket. You can probably say (Eagles quarterback) Jalen (Hurts) is similarly fast, but you’re not going to meet too many quarterbacks that run like Lamar does. If you look at what he’s able to do in the air, on the ground, I think he’s explosive in everything he does.” 

The Saints’ offense is forced to move forward without Michael Thomas, whose comeback attempt was limited to three games. This week, New Orleans (3-5) revealed he would miss the rest of the season due to toe surgery. 

Despite Thomas’ absence and a rough start, the Saints entered Week 9 just one game out of the lead in the NFC South. 

Saints running back Alvin Kamara couldn’t find the end zone in his first five games of the season, but recorded one rushing and two receiving scores last week. He is certainly a capable star willing to shoulder the offense, including an increased workload. 

“My offseason is harder than the season,” Kamara told the media Friday. “In the offseason, I prepare for hell. Even though the season is more controlled, I try to put my body through a lot of stress in the offseason. 

“I’m just doing all the things to prepare my body to go to war every week for 18, 19 weeks, 20 weeks. I’m ready for the load. I think I always said, I’m not worried about a load. I’ll take as much as they give me.” 

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Mudbugs foiled by another one-point weekend

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports 

The Shreveport Mudbugs fell 3-0 on Friday and 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday in New Mexico as their losing streak reached five games.

The power-play woes continued for Shreveport, who failed to convert on all seven chances with the man-advantage during the weekend. The Mudbugs are now 0-for-20 on the power-play dating back to the second period on Oct. 22.

Shreveport scored just one goal in 125 minutes of action – their lowest output of a weekend series this season — against the Ice Wolves.

Things get no easier as Shreveport will begin the second half of their extended road trip with a pair of games at Lone Star. The Brahmas boast a 13-1-1 mark and lead the North American Hockey League’s South Division.

Last week’s 3 Stars

  1. Tommy Aitken: Made 29 of 30 stops in regulation and overtime in Saturday’s shootout loss.
  1. Kason Muscutt: Scored his second goal of the season to give Shreveport a 1-0 lead early in the third period Saturday.
  1. Matthew Danzinger: Collected the lone assist on the weekend.

NAHL South Division standings 

Lone Star (13-1-1), 27 points

New Mexico (11-2-1), 23

Oklahoma (10-2-1), 21

Amarillo (8-5-1), 17

Shreveport (6-8-4), 16

El Paso (7-7-0), 14

Odessa (6-7-1), 13

Corpus Christi (2-12-2), 7

*top four make the playoffs

Team leaders

Goals: Logan Gotinsky, Niklas Miller, Garrett Steele, 5

Assists: Jaden Goldie, Drake Morse, 7

Points: Gotinsky, Goldie, Morse, 9

Penalty Minutes: Maksim Sushchynski, Miller 37

Game-winning goals: Miller, Gotinsky, Morse, Sutton Murray, Goldie 1

Goals-against average: Tommy Aitken, 2.32

Save percentage: Simon Bucheler, .913

Up next

The Mudbugs head to North Richland Hills, Texas, for a series against Lone Star — Friday and Saturday (7:30 p.m., CST).

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Former LSU star primed to find end zone today

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Back in the win column after a one-week speedbump. This week is already off to a good start with the golf picks looking prime to score big. On to the NFL, where we dominated the touchdown scorers and swept the Sunday game picks, 3-0.

For the spread picks, check out my Facebook (Roy Lang III) page today about an hour before the noon kickoffs.

Good luck!

Notes 

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

BR: BetRivers

LANG’S LOCKS

Season total: +81.2 units

Season ROI: 29.1 percent 

TODAY’S SELECTIONS 

NFL 

All bets are to score an any time touchdown 

(.5-unit plays)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs, +280 (CAE)

Geno Smith, Seahawks, +600 (MGM)

Tyreek Hill, Dolphins, +100 (DK) 

(.3-unit plays)

Patriots defense/special teams, +600 (DK)

Rams defense/special teams, +700 (DK)

Buccaneers defense/special teams, +600 (DK) 

(.1-unit plays)

Mo Alie-Cox, Colts, +1100 (CAE)

Mac Jones, Patriots, +1000 (MGM)

Shi Smith, Panthers, +1200 (DK)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Indy Bowl, Sun Belt Conference enter backup agreement

JOURNAL SPORTS

The Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl and Sun Belt Conference  have entered into a backup agreement that will be in place through the 2025-26 Bowl Season. 

“We are proud to create a new partnership with the Sun Belt Conference as a backup agreement for the next four years,” said 2022 Independence Bowl Foundation Chairman Rob Rubel. “It is an exciting time for the Sun Belt and their footprint aligns very well with that of the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. We appreciate Commissioner Keith Gill and Senior Associate Commissioner Travis Llewellyn for working with us.”

There are two teams from Louisiana currently in the Sun Belt—the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and ULM. Other Sun Belt teams from neighboring states include the Arkansas State Red Wolves, Southern Miss Golden Eagles and Texas State Bobcats.

The Sun Belt paces the FBS with a .649 bowl winning percentage during the College Football Playoff era since 2014. The conference has also had a team ranked in the final College Football Playoff rankings for three straight seasons.

“As the FBS leader in bowl winning percentage during the College Football Playoff era, we are excited to expand the postseason opportunities for Sun Belt football student-athletes,” said Gill. “The Independence Bowl was a natural partner in this expansion, as one of the longest-running bowl games that also falls within our geographic footprint.”

The Sun Belt has been represented once previously in the first 45 years of Independence Bowl history, as the ULM Warhawks played in the 2012 Independence Bowl against the Ohio Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference. Southern Miss is currently playing their first season of football in the Sun Belt, but has appeared in the Independence Bowl three times prior to entering the conference — twice as an independent and once as a member of Conference USA.

The 2022 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl will be the 46th playing of Shreveport’s annual college football bowl game — set to kick off on Friday, December 23 at 2 p.m. The matchup is slated to feature Army West Point against a team from the American Athletic Conference.

Public tickets are on sale now and are $30 for endzone bench, $45 for sideline bench and $65 for a limited quantity of sideline chairback seats. There are also a bevy of other ticket packages available — including group tickets, Family 4-Packs, Small Business Fan Packs and the exclusive Chairman’s Club.

For more information on tickets to the 2022 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, visit RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/tickets or call the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl office at 318.221.0712 or toll-free at 888.414.BOWL. 


Mudbugs hope mind-set leads to special-teams fix

LOOKING FOR A FIX: Forward Hayden Nichol and the Shreveport Mudbugs aim to stop a three-game losing streak when they travel to New Mexico this weekend. (Photo courtesy of SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Special teams often get lumped together. However, nothing – at least on paper — about the Shreveport Mudbugs’ power-play unit and their penalty-kill unit are similar.

With more than a quarter of the 2022-23 season gone (16 of 60 games), the Mudbugs’ penalty-kill unit has successfully defended nine of 66 tries, for an 86-percent success rate – fifth-best of the 29 North American Hockey League teams.

Shreveport’s power-play unit? It’s converted eight of 57 (14 percent) opportunities this season – 23rd in the league.

It’s even worse than those numbers indicate.

Shreveport has netted an NAHL-worst three goals with the man-advantage as it’s allowed a league-worst five short-handed goals. The most crushing blow – a shortie allowed while up 3-0 at Oklahoma in the third period Saturday.

“Our power play just didn’t compete enough,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “We gave them so much time and space when they had the puck, they just buried one on us.”

The shorty sparked the Warriors to a 4-3 overtime victory and a weekend sweep of the Mudbugs.

Not the ideal way to begin a five-week road trip.

“It gets fixed with mind-set,” Campbell said. “You have to outwork your opponent, even when you’re up one player. They’re not going to stop working; in fact they’re almost going to be more dialed in and working harder to kill (the penalty) off.”

Things must change as the Mudbugs (6-7-3) head to second-place New Mexico (9-2-1) for a weekend doubleheader beginning Friday.

“I told them: ‘You can do one of two things: You can let it ruin you or you can let it help make you better.’

“I know where we’re going with it – the latter part.”

Coaching can only do so much. Leadership and accountability can help secure a long-term fix.

“These guys are too good for (what’s been happening),” Campbell said. “(The players) will take care of it in the locker room. All we can do (as coaches) is talk about it and implement practice plans and game plans to get better. They ultimately have to take charge of their game. They’ll be the ones doing 90 percent of the getting-better stuff.”

Mudbugs at New Mexico

Friday, Saturday (7:30 CDT)
Outpost Ice Arenas,
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com