<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usFri, 02 Dec 2016 20:40:18 -0800Fri, 02 Dec 2016 20:40:18 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Send Catcher Norris to the Nationals]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:07:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-598760594.jpg

Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has been quiet so far on the trade front this offseason.

Not anymore.

The Padres sent veteran catcher Derek Norris to the Washington Nationals in exchange for right-handed pitcher Pedro Avila.

In two seasons for the Padres, 27-year old Norris hit .222 with 28 home runs and 104 runs batted in. The Kansas native came to the Padres from the Oakland A’s where he was an all-star in 2014. Now Norris returns to the Nationals who traded him to the Athletics in 2011.

With Norris heading to D.C., it opens a spot for Austin Hedges to come back to the big leagues. In Triple-A El Paso last year Hedges hit .325 with 21 home runs and 82 RBI in 82 games for the Chihuahuas.

Coming to San Diego in the deal is 19-year old right-handed pitcher Pedro Avila.

The Venezuela native spent last season in Single-A Hagerston. He finished with a 7-7 record and an earned run average of 3.48 with 92 strikeouts and 38 walks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Soccer Players Who Missed Doomed Flight Cope With Loss]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 05:23:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/soccer-plane-crash.jpg

As the recovered bodies of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team begin to be returned to families Friday, the players who did not travel on the team's ill-fated flight are left mourning their teammates, NBC News reported.

"I still have the chance to hug and kiss my children, but my teammates can't do that anymore," said Chapecoense defender Demerson Costa.

The crash killed 71 people, including 19 people from the soccer team. The pilot reportedly told a Colombian air traffic controller he had run out of fuel just moments before the plane crashed into the Andes Mountains.

One player, Matheus Saroli, didn't board the flight because he forgot his passport. He lost his father, coach Caio Junior, who was on board.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Padres Announce Stops for Holiday Caravan]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:53:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/pod.jpg

The San Diego Padres have announced stops for their annual community caravan, coming to communities across the County this winter.

The caravan will make 19 stops around the County and in Mexico during the 10 Days of Giving to help spread holiday cheer.

The tour starts on Dec. 7, where Padres alumni, Pad Squad and Swinging Friar will help military parents pick out gifts for their children as part of the Armed Services YMCA San Diego's Military Families Holiday Toy Program.

On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Padres will cross the border and go to Centro de Rehabilitacion Infantil Teleton's (Center for Infant Rehabilitation Telethon) annual telethon in Mexico. Padres players, along with its Spanish television and radio broadcasters Eduardo Ortega and Carlos Hernandez, will tour the facility and distribute presents.

Proceeds from the telethon will go toward infant rehabilitation centers across Mexico.

Days later on Dec. 14, in a first for the Padres, the caravan will venture to Liberty Station for the Rady Children's Hospital's Fantasy on Ice skating rink. There, Rady patients and their families will be treated to a VIP experience that includes a private meet-and-greet with players and coaches.

Throughout the caravan, the Padres and SDG&E will be presenting several donations to local organizations including the Barrio Logan College Institute, Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Clean & Safe Program and the San Diego Public Library as part of the organizations' Going to Bat for San Diego initiative.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of Year]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:23:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kingjamesja.jpg

LeBron James delivered on a promise and ended decades of Cleveland sports misery in 2016.

For leading the Cavaliers to an NBA title and ending the city's 52-year title drought, James was chosen as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year on Thursday, joining Tiger Woods as the award's only two-time winners since its inception in 1954.

"I'm honored," James said following shootaround before the Cavs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. "I'm more happy for my family, my kids, for my wife, my mom, and for my foundation, for the kids that I represent and the kids that use me as a role model and an inspiration."

Appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals in June, James rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season but couldn't put Cleveland away. James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of an epic Game 7, making the Cavs the first Cleveland major sports franchise to win a title since the Browns in 1964.

James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-old James returned to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 and pledged to bring a title to his home state. He did it in his second season, an achievement that ranks as the greatest accomplishment of his career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carson Pop Warner Team Uninvited to National Championship]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:12:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/popwarner-uninvited-carson.jpg

The Super Bowl of Pop Warner is this Saturday in Florida with 64 teams from around the nation competing, but this year is marred by controversy over whether the team from Carson should be allowed to compete.

The Carson Ravens are a division one team who actually lost their regional competition. But the local coaches say after the winning Southern California teams decided not to go to Florida for the so-called Super Bowl, the Carson team was invited by the western regional leaders to play as a division two team.

The parents spent thousands on flights and hotel reservations, but just two days before they were due to travel, Carson got word from the National Pop Warner Organization that East Coast teams were complaining it wasn’t fair.

The Carson team was uninvited.

Now the parents want their money back.

"I think it was just a mistake but it’s easy to rectify. If they take a look and do the right thing they have two choices – either reimburse us or let the kids play,"Michael Hochberg, parent and coach, said.

An email the Carson coaches say came from the National Pop Warner Organization called the situation a mistake at the regional level.

Calls from the national and regional leaders but our calls have not been returned.

Most of the big players have already traveled to Florida, ready for the big game.

The parents have contacted a lawyer to see if there’s any way for them to get their travel money back.

They’ve been told there will be no reimbursement.

Photo Credit: Carson Ravens]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:30:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gulls Notch 7th Straight Victory]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:52:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GullsCunninghamWEB.jpg

Gulls radio broadcaster Craig Elsten remarked shortly after Wednesday’s victory: “Seven straight, feels great!”

Well said.

The Gulls extended their franchise-record winning streak to seven games after earning a 5-1 decision over the first-place Tucson Roadrunners (Arizona Coyotes affiliate).

Rookie Kevin Roy has been really impressive the past few weeks and tallied his team-high 8th goal of the season.

Scott Sabourin scored once and Kenny Ryan added a goal and an assist in his season debut.

San Diego’s Nick Sorensen also set up two more goals by feeding Antoine Laganiere and Kalle Kossila to close out the scoring.

Gulls netminder Dustin Tokarski (7-2-0-0) made 19 saves and only allowed one puck past the line.

Tokarski’s stellar outing gives him a personal five-game winning streak in the crease.

San Diego improved to 7-2-0-0 at home in front of an announced crowd of 5,555.

The Tucson Roadrunners twitter account also thanked San Diego fans for showing their support for Tucson captain Craig Cunningham.

Cunningham was hospitalized after suddenly collapsing on the ice before a Roadrunners game back on Saturday, November 19 and has not played since.

According to Elsten, the last updates from the franchise are that Cunningham remains in the hospital and in intensive care.

Due to the serious nature and unorthodox circumstances, that November 19 Roadrunners game was postponed as were the following two games last Tuesday and Wednesday which were supposed to feature the Gulls playing in Arizona.

Tucson adapted a #CunnyCan movement for fans to show their support for their captain.

The Gulls also wore a #14 decal on their helmets to honor Cunningham.

Next up for the Gulls is a trip to Stockton to face the Heat (Calgary Flames affiliate).

San Diego plays Stockton Friday and Saturday night (7:30 p.m. faceoffs) and then returns home to play Bakersfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Tucson Roadrunners]]>
<![CDATA[USC Knocks Off USD]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:25:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/244*120/OlinUSDvsUSC.PNG

Wednesday’s contest against the USC Trojans was a great opportunity for USD head coach Lamont Smith to see how his team stacked up against a Pac-12 opponent.

It appears his young Toreros still have a ways to go.

San Diego never led from start to finish and ultimately succumbed 76-55 to the visitors from Los Angeles.

USD has never beaten USC in six tries.

USC is coached by Andy Enfield who took Florida Gulf Coast to an unexpected trip to the Sweet 16 a few years ago. He has the Trojans off to their best start since the 2000-2001 campaign with a 7-0 record.

Tyler Williams scored USD’s first eight points but the visitors quickly built a 21-12 lead. Fellow sophomore Olin Carter III nailed a trey a couple minutes later to cut the deficit to 23-17, but USD would never get any closer after that.

Carter finished with a game-high 21 points and made five threes. He’s developed into a solid scoring threat from the perimeter and can take it to the basket when he sees an opening.

Senior Brett Bailey supplied some support on the offensive end with 17 points and Williams finished with 10.

Meanwhile, Chimezie Metu led the Trojans with 19 points and 13 boards while Elijah Stewart chipped in with 15 points.

Local product Bennie Boatwright started for USC but sprained his left knee barely three minutes into the contest. Enfield said the team’s second-leading scorer would have an MRI exam Thursday.

“We're hoping for the best,” admitted Enfield. “He'll certainly be out for a while. We're hoping it's a few weeks vs. the season.

San Diego's next game is Saturday at Northern Arizona before their next home contest which is Wednesday against Cal State Fullerton.

Photo Credit: usdtoreros.com]]>
<![CDATA[The Evolution of Dontrelle Inman]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:26:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/Dontrelle+Inman+Houston.JPG

By now most Chargers fans know the story of wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. He was undrafted out of Virginia, went to training camp with Jacksonville, ended up in Canada with the Toronto Argonauts for two seasons, signed on with the Chargers in 2014, earned a spot on the team with a great preseason, worked his way in to the rotation, and is now a starter.

What you might not know about Dontrelle Inman is his pass catching ability (38 catches, 527 yards, 2 TD this season) might not be his best attribute. Inman is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the NFL. On a lot of Melvin Gordon’s long runs this season it’s Inman out in front keeping a defensive back out of the way.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” said Inman, who said his blocking skills really kicked up during this year’s training camp. “My favorite player growing up was Hines Ward. That’s all he used to do was just smash people and block block block. So it’s just the little things that nobody sees that make a big difference.”

After Sunday’s 21-13 win over Houston, where Inman had six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers praised Dontrelle for his reliability, a trait that helped get Inman to the NFL in the first place.

“That’s the number one thing I pride myself on because if you look at a wide receiver description that’s what it is,” says Inman. “Being dependable, being the guy who’s where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there, and ultimately just making the play.”

Part of the reason for Dontrelle’s development can be attributed to another San Diego wideout. Injured receiver Stevie Johnson, who has missed the season after a knee injury in training camp, shared some of his secrets for getting open with his teammate.

“The first couple of weeks me and Stevie would text back and forth before the game, after the game. He would tell me hey, you got open, but it would be a lot easier if you were a little more patient. Just remember, once you think you’re open just wait just a little bit longer and you can see the difference in separation.”

Once the lesson took root, Inman began to blossom. Over the season’s first six games he averaged two catches and 29 yards. Since then he’s averaged five catches and 69 yards an outing. A few other high-profile Chargers have also noticed the improvement.

“Antonio (Gates) says the same thing. He says ‘I see you being patient now.’ He says that’s all it is, like in the red zone. Antonio has so many touchdowns in the red zone because he’s patient. People don’t know what he’s going to do until he hits you with it. He hits you with the move and then it’s too late.”

It took Dontrelle Inman six years to become a full-time NFL starter. Patience would seem to be one of his virtues.

<![CDATA[I Miss Him: Barkley Reveals He and Jordan No Longer Friends]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 08:16:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jordanbark.jpg

NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley gave an interview on the Dan Le Batard radio show this week where he explained, despite a recent photo that had been making the rounds, he and once close pal Michael Jordan have not buried the hatchet.

Barkley said a recent pic taken by TNT colleague Kenny Smith mistakenly spread the belief the two had made amends from a long-running feud. But Barkley recalled it as a brief, awkward encounter at a public event they just both happened to be attending.

"I love Michael. I miss Michael's friendship. He was a great friend to me for a long period of time. And I love him and miss him like a brother. But we just happened to be at the same place so we took a picture together," Barkley said. "We are not back to where we use to be."

Barkley explained Jordan holds a grudge for criticism Barkley levied at him as owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets. Barkley said Jordan surrounded himself with 'yes' men who wouldn't challenge some of his questionable personnel decisions. 

"Some people, when you're their friend, expect you to have their back no matter what. And part of my job sucks some times when I have to criticize people I like or a friend," Barkley said. "He took it personally and got really angry. And I haven't really spoken to him in years."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Serena Williams on Sexism: Being a Woman Is Not a 'Flaw']]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:26:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/serenaserena.jpg

Serena Williams served up another ace. Only this time it was in the form of an open letter about sexism and wage disparity between males and females in sports.

The letter, initially written for Porter Magazine’s 'Incredible Women of 2016' issue, was reprinted by The Guardian on Tuesday. Williams dedicated it to “all incredible women who strive for excellence” as she wrote about gender discrimination in sports that she and other women face.

"When the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts," Williams wrote. "I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you."

The gender wage gap in professional tennis has been a topic of conversation this year. The New York Times reported in April that last year, Roger Federer received $731,000 for defending his title at the Western & Southern Open. At the same tournament, Serena Williams received $495,000 for defending her respective title. It was just one of many instances in which the compensation disparity was evident.

Williams has made it clear on many occasions that she wants to be the “best tennis player in the world,” not “the best ‘female’ tennis player in the world.” In her letter she pointed out how descriptions tend to exclusively gender-mark women. While people call her one of the greatest “female” athletes, they do not similarly say LeBron James or Tiger Woods are considered some of the greatest “male” athletes. Instead, they are just considered great athletes.

“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote, “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw.”

Former professional tennis player Ray Moore brought sexism in tennis to light earlier in the year with his controversial comments about how female tennis players “ride on the coattails of men” and how they should thank prominent male tennis players like Federer and Nadal “because they have carried this sport.”

But despite ongoing ignorance in the sport Williams closed her letter offering encouragement to young women to follow their dreams with resilience.

“We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Audemars Piguet]]>
<![CDATA[Renovated North Golf Course at Torrey Pines Reopens]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 08:54:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Torrey_Pines_North_Course_Hole_15_t620.jpg

The North Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course was recently reopened following a comprehensive nine-month, $12.6 million renovation of the city-owned property.

A statement from the city of San Diego said the renovation was designed by famed golfer and course architect Tom Weiskopf. All 18 greens were completely reconstructed to U.S. Golf Association standards, with existing poa annua grass replaced with 100 percent bent grass.

Officials said the course’s front and back nine holes were also reversed, allowing golfers panoramic ocean and canyon views as they finish their rounds. The renovated course’s bunkers were reduced from 59 to 41, and the average green size increased from 4,500 to 6,400 square feet.

The renovation also included replacement of car paths and improvements to irrigation systems. Work was completed on time and on budget.

Weiskopf heads Arizona-based Weiskopf Design Group, which has completed 60 golf course design projects in the U.S. and Europe since 1985.

“Switching the nines is very significant because the back nine is so iconic with its incredible views,” Weiskopf said in the statement. “The larger greens allow for more pin placements and more variety, and we’ve taken out bunkers but kept others that are strategically placed.”

Officials said the North Course has been lengthened in total by nearly 200 yards from the tips. There are now five sets of tees, allowing the course to play as long as 7,258 yards or as short as 5,197 yards.

The North Course was originally designed by William F. Bell and opened in 1957. Torrey Pines is a public course owned and maintained by the city, and its more famous South Course has hosted events including the 2008 U.S. Open and the upcoming 2021 U.S. Open.

Officials said the North Course averages approximately 82,000 rounds of play annually.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of City of San Diego
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<![CDATA[Aztec Trio Wins Mountain West Awards]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:09:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Donnel+Pumphrey+vs+SJSU.jpeg

The Mountain West football regular season is over and a trio of San Diego State Aztecs swept the conference Player of the Year awards for the second straight year.

It comes as no surprise that senior running back Donnel Pumphrey was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year again. The Las Vegas native is the first running back in MW history to take home the award twice.

Pumphrey set a school mark in rushing yards per season this year with 1,908 and is closing in on the NCAA all-time rushing record. He also has a team-high 26 catches for 205 yards. Pumphrey is a finalist for the Doak Walker Award that goes to the top running back in the nation and semifinalist for the Maxwell Award for college player of the year and the Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year award.

Cornerback Damontae Kazee took home Mountain West Defensive player of the year for the second time and became the first cornerback to take home the award twice. Kazee ranks second in the MW in interceptions per game (0.42) and recorded 54 tackles, six pass breakups and scored a touchdown this season.

Rashaad Penny rounds out the Aztecs award winning trio. The return specialist took home Special Teams Player of the Year honors once more. Penny returned 16 kicks for 462 yards for the Aztecs in the regular season including two kick return touchdowns. He’s seventh in the nation in kick return average with 28.8 and leads the MW.

<![CDATA[Get To Know Your Gulls: Key Ingredients Of A 6-Game Win Streak]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:20:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WebGullsWithElsten11.29.16_1200x675_820255811600.jpg NBC 7’s Ben Rosehart and Gulls radio broadcaster Craig Elsten discuss how a key line emerged to help San Diego rattle off six straight victories before looking ahead to Wednesday’s clash with the first-place Tucson Roadrunners.]]> <![CDATA[Red-Hot Aztecs Win In Turquoise]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:48:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TurquoiseSDSU.jpg

In a salute to Native American Heritage Month, the San Diego State Aztecs wore turquoise jerseys for their home game against Savannah State.

They donned unorthodox uniforms, but the Aztecs certainly did not feel blue after putting up 100 points on their unsuspecting foes.

SDSU smothered the Tigers offense and won convincingly 100-67 to improve to 4-1.

The Tigers entered the contest with a reputation of hoisting tons of threes but SDSU wound up turning the tables on the visitors.

Savannah State converted only 10-of-38 shots (26%) from behind the arc.

Senior Matt Shrigley drained five treys in the first half to help the Aztecs open up a 28-point lead by intermission.

Shrigley and Indiana transfer Max Hoetzel each finished with 15 points while Montaque Gil-Caesar chipped in with 12 off the bench.

"This is a dangerous team stacked full of talent,” said Shrigley, “and we just want to come in and bring energy and knock down jumpers for this team and add on to what everyone else is doing."

“I feel very comfortable,” said Hoetzel who is getting back into the swing of things after hyperextending his knee two months ago. “I love playing for Coach Fisher. As long as I’m playing hard, everything else will fall into place. Now I just have to get my wind back for the time that I missed.”

Point guard Jeremy Hemsley also knocked down a pair of long range shots and tallied 14 points along with a game-high nine assists.

“I liked how we shared the ball,” admitted SDSU head coach Steve Fisher. “We had 22 assists. Jeremy (Hemsley) had nine assists and no turnovers. Trey (Kell) had seven assists and one turnover, and we made that a topic of conversation when we got back from Cal.”

“We’ve got a group of really good young people who are very unselfish,” continued Fisher, “but we were taking too many hard shots. And we took a few tonight, but we did a better job of moving the ball and making one more pass to go from a good shot to a better shot.”

SDSU’s big men owned the paint. Malik Pope and Zylan Cheatham combined for a handful of rim-rattling dunks to the delight of the home crowd.

Cheatham led SDSU with 18 points and eight rebounds while Pope helped the cause with eight points.

All in all, a solid showing from a team that has bounced back from that embarrassing loss to Gonzaga with three straight wins.

Next up is a trip to Chicago for a date with Loyola this Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.

Photo Credit: Ben Rosehart]]>
<![CDATA[Two of San Diego’s Top Soccer Clubs Join Forces]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 20:24:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/North+County+Battalion+PDL+San+Diego+Surf+Soccer+Club.jpg

The North County Battalion - a team who made it to the National Premier Soccer League playoffs in their inaugural season this year - has joined forces with San Diego Surf Soccer Club, one of the best youth soccer clubs in the nation.

The partnership results in a yet-to-be-named United Soccer League Premier Development League soccer club that will compete in the Southwest Division of the PDL in 2017.

NC Battalion majority owner Jason Barbato told NBC 7 that the partnership grew thanks to his team's head coach, Ryan Guy.

“He felt there were very strong passions and synergies between both organizations and he worked to put both groups together,” Barbato said. 

It may not be the only partnership the Battalion makes this off season.

Barbato said the club has ongoing discussions with several groups “that have the highest of aspirations and intentions in San Diego.”

The PDL was founded in 1995 and is sponsored by the United Soccer Leagues in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. Men’s National Team members Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Brad Guzan and Sacha Kljestan are just a few PDL alums who have risen to the top levels of the soccer world.

A change of venue may also be in the works for the NCB.

In the NPSL, the Battalion played their home matches at Del Norte High School. Barbato said that though nothing is concrete, a venue change might be made to benefit fans for the upcoming season that runs from May to August.

Look for more announcements from San Diego’s newest soccer franchise soon.

Barbato said the ownership group is heading to the USL/PDL conference early next week, and when they return, they plan on revealing the new clubs crest and tryout dates for the upcoming year.

Photo Credit: North County Battalion]]>
<![CDATA[Why San Diego Chargers Are Now a Dangerous Team]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:55:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/RiversGettyImages-623553188.jpg

During their week of preparation for Sunday’s game in Houston, the Chargers did not hide the fact they had to win their last six games to even be close to the post-season conversation.

One down, five to go.

The Bolts bested the Texans 21-13, snapping Houston’s five-game winning streak at NRG Stadium. When you’re sitting on the brink of your season going over the cliff and absolutely have to win, you look for bits of motivation wherever you can find them. Getting a win in a place where W’s are hard to come by did the trick.

“I don’t want to get too in to bulletin board stuff but I like that this team is undefeated at home so let’s go change that,” said quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers. “It was in my head kind of all week that we could stop the streak. It’s a good win. That’s a good team.”

That is the essence of Rivers as a competitor. Nobody wants to win as badly as he does and he’ll find reasons to beat the other team. What’s nice is the rest of the locker room seems to feel the same way.

In years past that was not necessarily the case but the group of guys Tom Telesco and Co. have assembled seems to have adopted a street fighter’s mentality: they might not win but they’re not going down easy.

“This was the first of six,” said tight end Hunter Henry, who caught Rivers’ third TD toss. “We kind of have our backs against the wall so we came out fighting and it was fun to see.”

“You ever been in a situation where you HAVE to win?” asked wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who caught the first TD pass of the day. “Where your life depends on you winning? That’s the nature of our football team.”

True enough. The Chargers don’t seem to want to do anything the easy way. It’s the way they’ve done things for a while now: put yourself in the worst situation possible and fight valiantly to get out of it. The Bolts' two road wins have come against the leaders of the AFC South (Texans) and NFC South (Falcons).

The Bolts are basically breaking this down into six one-game seasons, trying to go 1-0 every week. That might help ease the thought of the Herculean task before them.

“We’re back to where we were just two weeks removed,” said Rivers. “We have a chance to get to 6-6. We wanted to be 5-5 after the Miami game, but we have a chance to go back to 6-6 and set the stage for what we do.”

What they have done in the past is go on late-season surges that end in the playoffs. They have the ability to do that again this year. What is interesting is the rest of the football world knows how dangerous the Chargers can be.

During NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast of the wildly entertaining Chiefs win over the Broncos the broadcast crew was talking about the extremely competitive AFC West when play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said he thought, before it’s all said and done, Philip Rivers and the Chargers would have a say in the outcome.

Analyst Cris Collinsworth had a great response: “Who wants to play them right now? Nobody.”

The most dangerous animal is very often a wounded animal. The Chargers are a talented group fighting for their playoff lives. If the hole they dug was not too big they just might have a say in this thing after all.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thursday Night Football: Cowboys Go for 11th Straight Win]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:03:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16330088209607.jpg

Dak Prescott will face as good a pass defense as he has seen all year when the rookie quarterback tries to run the Dallas Cowboys’ winning streak to 11 in-a-row on Thursday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings.

The teams face off on NBC at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Minnesota is coming off a loss to Detroit in the last seconds that was their fifth in six games following a 5-0 start. Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick who has supplanted Tony Romo, threw for a TD and ran for another on Thanksgiving Day.

The Vikings will play without their coach Mike Zimmer. He will miss the game following emergency surgery to repair a detached retina. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the interim head coach.

The Vikings’ defense has allowed 13 TDs through the air and picked off passes 12 times. Against the comparably dangerous Philadelphia defense, Prescott made a couple of shaky throws, including an interception in the end zone. But he also led Dallas back from a late 10-point hole and threw a winning TD pass in overtime.

Minnesota QB Sam Bradford should have an easier time against the Cowboys’ secondary. The sixth-year-player is on pace to blow away his previous best in completion percentage. A 31-for-37 game against Detroit bumped him up to 71.3 on the year and he’s at nearly 80 percent in November.

Four to watch:

Dallas RB Zeke Elliott: Another rookie enjoying a breakout year for the Cowboys; he’ll be leaned on heavily. His next yard will be 1,200 for the season and 200 ahead of the nearest competitor.

Dallas CB Anthony Brown: The rookie cornerback had a howler against Washington, and figures to be targeted heavily by Bradford and top Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. 

Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes: Leads the Vikings with four interceptions this season, all in the last eight games, including one he took back for a touchdown.

Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter: Has 3.5 of his 7.5 sacks this season in the last three games. He’ll go up against a line that has allowed 15 all year.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Weekly San Diego Sports Preview]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 15:54:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-614387588-nfl.jpg

Here’s what is going on in San Diego sports for the week of November 28th-December 4th.

GULLS: Hockey is back Wednesday night when the Gulls host the Tucson Roadrunners. Puck drops 7 p.m. at the Valley View Casino Center. After that the Gulls hit the road to play the Heat in Stockton Friday and Saturday.

CHARGERS: The Bolts return home this week. Sunday they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is 1:25 p.m.


-WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Thursday-Sunday in the NCAA West Regionals TBA.

-WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Thursday vs. California Baptist 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at Fresno Pacific 2:30 p.m.

-MEN’S BASKETBALL: Thursday vs. California Baptist 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at Fresno Pacific 4 p.m.


-WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Tuesday at Cal Poly Pomona 5:30 p.m. and Thursday vs. Chico State 5:30 p.m. at UCSD.

-MEN’S BASKETBALL: Tuesday at Cal Poly Pomona 7:30 p.m. and Thursday vs. Chico State 7:30 p.m. at UCSD.

-MEN’S SOCCER: Thursday vs. Wingate in the NCAA Championship semifinals at Kansas City, MO 9 a.m. and Saturday vs. Charleston/Rockhurst.


-MEN’S BASKETBALL: Monday vs. Savannah State 7 p.m. at Viejas Arena and Saturday at Loyola in Chicago.

-WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Friday at UC Davis.

-WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Friday vs. Pepperdine 2 p.m. at the Aztec Aquaplex.

-WOMEN’S TRACK: Saturday Red-Black Intrasquad and All-Comers Meet 10:30 a.m. at the SDSU Sports Deck.


-MEN’S BASKETBALL: Wednesday vs. USC at the Jenny Craig Pavilion 7 p.m. and Saturday at Northern Arizona 1 p.m.

-WOMEN’S SWIMMING: Friday-Sunday at the Huskie Invite in Seattle all day.

-WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Friday at Washington State 7 p.m. in Pullman,WA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Hang On For Road Win]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 15:18:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/GettyImages-626138386.jpg

During the week of preparation for Sunday's game in Houston, Charger quarterback Philip Rivers hinted we would be in for another close game.

"We're gonna be in the game with five minutes to play and there are only two outcomes that will happen from there," said Rivers.

That means win or lose (we'll forget about the tie) and with the Chargers the last two seasons hat has usually meant lose. This time the Chargers were in it with 5:00 to play but this time they had the lead and held on barely.

Rivers threw three touchdown passes and San Diego's defense forced four of turnovers in a 21-13 win at NRG Stadium in Houston.

With the Texans leading 7-0 in the second quarter the Bolts offense got a big play. Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman lost Houston safety Quinton Demps with a fantastic move and Rivers hit him for a 52-yard touchdown and a 7-7 game.

Just four plays later Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler tried to connect with DeAndre Hopkins Allen the sideline but Casey Hayward cut in front of the pass to make a dazzling interception.

That turnover led to another Chargers score. After running back Melvin Gordon took off on an 18-yard run Rivers found Tyrell Williams down the middle for a 21-yard score and a 14-7 halftime lead.

The 3rd quarter was also scoreless, helped by a Lamar Miller fumble recovered by cornerback Trevor Williams. Former Chargers kicker Nick Novak hit a short field goal early in the 4th to cut the lead to 14-10 and Rivers went to work again, finding Inman for gains of 11 and 25 on consecutive plays then throwing a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Hunter Henry to put San Diego up double digits.

Osweiler, who has drawn the ire of Texans fans for not living up to his $72 million contract, made another terrible throw that was intercepted by safety Dwight Lowery and the Texans simply ran out of time and chances.

Osweiler tried a pair of jump balls in the end zone at the end but one was knocked away and the other was picked off by safety Dexter McCoil. The Chargers improve to 5-6 heading in to next week's home game against Tampa Bay.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Crowd Boos Kaepernick]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 23:00:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/KaepernickDolphins.jpg

Playing in Miami on Sunday just days after getting tangled in a "heated" discussion about Fidel Castro with a newspaper reporter, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a "flood of boos" from the South Florida crowd, CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco tweeted.

Kaepernick's Castro talk began months ago when he flashed a shirt featuring the former leader of Cuba, who passed away late Friday, meeting with Malcolm X. The lettering across the shirt read, "Like minds think alike."

After the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Dolphins, Kaepernick was asked about some of the statements he made, in which he defended Castro’s record of education in Cuba.

"I said was that I agree with the investment in education," Kaepernick said. "I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement in him helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everybody agrees that those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did, it’s just not true."

Kaepernick, who again wore a T-shirt depicting Malcolm X following Sunday's contest, was asked about his shirt selection.

"I’ve worn many Malcolm X shirts," Kaepernick said. "He was a great man, and he lived the life that he talked about. He was someone that truly walked the walk and was a great leader for the African community and someone I admire."

When asked Sunday if he understands concerns that arose with his decision to wear a shirt that portrayed Castro, Kaepernick said, "I can understand the concern. But for me what I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm."

Kaepernick added, "I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960 when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. That’s something that I will always be true to, what Malcolm was, what he represented, because I’m not going to cut out history.”

During a conference call earlier this week, a Miami Herald reporter, who is reportedly related to Cuban exiles, questioned the San Francisco signal caller's choice to don the shirt with Castro, to which Kaepernick responded by saying, "I'm not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression. I'm talking about Malcom X and what he's done for people."

The reporter then condemned Kaepernick for changing the subject of the discussion away from Castro's history of abuses. The quarterback responded by applauding Castro for investing more in education instead of criminal punishment.

Kaepernick answered the jeers Sunday by leading his offensive unit to the end zone on the team's first drive of the game. He finished with 296 yards through the air and three scores to go along with 113 yards on the ground.

CSN's Matt Maiocco contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Eric Espada, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aztecs fall to Colorado State ]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 00:24:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-598994014.jpg

Rainy Saturday night at Qualcomm, and it looked like it might have put a damper on the Aztecs, as they fell to Colorado State 63-to-31 in their final home game of the season.

The Aztecs hold the spot as the number one ranked defense in the Mountain West Conference.  However despite their numbers they were unable to put a stop on quarterback Nick Stevens and the Rams offense.

Stevens found wide receiver Michael Gallup seven times for a total of 139 yards and three touchdowns. This was just some of the 63 points put up by the Rams offense.

Colorado State came up big multiple times throughout the night. However in the second quarter it was the El Cajon native and Valhalla high school graduate who exploded for the Rams on a punt return. Robert Ruiz took it 91-yards to the house for the touchdown to extend the Rams lead. He would go on to score again before the half was over.

While the Rams excelled on offense their defense was not a beat shy of their A game. They managed to hold the unstoppable Donnel Pumphrey to just 18 carries and 53 total rushing yards.

However Pumphrey still managed to put up points despite his rushing yardage. Prior to the half Pumphrey came out with a 7 yard touchdown run, this marking his 60th career rushing touchdown. With that he passes Eric Crouch and Colin Kaepernick, slipping into ninth place on the all-time NCAA FBS list.

The Aztecs will look to recover from this loss as they get ready to take on Wyoming on December 3 for the Mountain West Football Championship.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reinforcements Arrive for the Chargers]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 18:22:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Jahleel+Addae+Injury.JPG

For the Chargers, the bye week was a lot like those old Milk commercials; it did their bodies good.

The injury report for Sunday's game In Houston is out and a few important pieces are back, especially on defense. Safety Jahleel Addae, who shattered his collarbone on a huge hit at the end of the Week 2 win over the Jaguars, practiced in full all week and will be back on the field at NRG Stadium for the first time since the injury.

Addae is only in his 4th year but he's the longest-tenured member of the San Diego secondary so having his experience will be a nice asset against the Texans, especially since Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler has the propensity to throw the ball to the other team (10 interceptions, only 12 touchdown passes in 2016).

Joining Addae in the starting lineup is linebacker Denzel Perryman, who is back from his hamstring injury. Perryman missed the last two games and has not been the same player since getting hurt in a Week 7 win in Atlanta when he made an interception in the 4th quarter and a 4th down stop in overtime and won the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week award.

Those two cats alone make the Bolts defense better. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin is back to improve the offense.

Although officially listed as questionable, Benjamin says he’s recovered from a knee injury and expects to play in Texas. He’s the deep threat that adds a new dimension to a Chargers passing attack. Fellow wideout Jeremy Butler is also questionable but practiced in full on Thursday and Friday and should be available.

The only players who have been ruled out against the Texans are linebacker Jatavis Brown (knee), cornerback Brandon Flowers (concussion) and tight end Asante Cleveland (concussion/knee).

Meanwhile, Houston is hurting in a big way. They’re coming off a short week and a long trip to Mexico City, where they lost to the Raiders on Monday Night Football. They will not have backup running backs Alfred Blue or Tyler Ervin or wide receiver Jaelen Strong, their number three wideout.

But the biggest loss might be outside linebacker John Simon, their third-leading tackler who has the second-most sacks on the team.

<![CDATA[WATCH: Chargers Host 38th Annual Blood Drive]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 20:05:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/220*120/Rolf+Benirschke+Blood+Drive.JPG The 38th Annual Chargers Blood Drive drew in a huge crowd of fans and more importantly, donors.On a week when the nation is giving thanks for so many things, health is typically at the top of the list. The Bolts and their fans are stepping up to help those who need the gift of life. ]]> <![CDATA[Chargers Sign Former Aztec Hillman]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:38:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-493252774.jpg

The Chargers roster revolving door continues.

Tuesday the Bolts officially announced nose tackle Brandon Mebane is out for the season and they’ve added cornerback Trovon Reed and running back Ronnie Hillman.

Last year Hillman led the Super Bowl Champions in rushing with a career-high 863 yards and seven touchdowns. Denver surprised many by releasing the 25-year old before the season started this year. The Chargers claimed Hillman off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings.

At SDSU, Hillman was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2010 and the following year earned first-team All-MWC honors. He left the Aztecs with 3,243 yards after two seasons.

To make room for Hillman, the Chargers released wide receiver Griff Whalen.

Before hitting the Reserve-Injured list with a biceps injury, Mebane led the team’s linemen in tackles with 35 total, 15 pressures and six quarterback hits. He also recorded four tackles for loss, a sack and got his first career interception.

Taking Mebane’s spot on the roster is cornerback Trovon Reed from the practice squad.

Reed spent parts of last season with the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and Rams practice squads and saw action in three preseason games with Seattle this year. The Chargers signed him to their practice squad in October.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan's Medal of Freedom Reaction Sparks New Memes]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:54:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/mj+tears.png

Michael Jordan may be “more than just an internet meme,” but his emotional reaction to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday became just that.

With tears in his eyes, the five-time MVP was presented with one of the highest civilian honors by President Barack Obama at the White House – and the Twitter-verse took notice.

Images of Jordan’s face during the ceremony quickly sparked a flurry of new and old memes as the sports icon became yet another viral sensation.

Yet, in celebrating Jordan’s achievements, Obama noted that the NBA icon is more than just some of the historic moments he made in sports history.

“MJ is still more than those moments, more than just the best player on the two greatest teams of all time – the dream team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls—he’s more than just a logo, more than just an internet meme,” Obama said, referring to the infamous "Crying Jordan" meme.

Jordan’s tear-stained face during a 2009 speech at his Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony became a viral meme on social media, used by the sports world as the go-to symbol of sadness in defeat. The meme often features Jordan's watery mug superimposed onto losing team's players, fans, mascots, coaches and beyond, employed to comment on any number of sports failures.

“[He’s] more than just a charitable donor, or a business donor committed to diversity,” Obama added. “There is a reason we call somebody 'the Michael Jordan of' — the Michael Jordan of neurosurgery or the Michael Jordan of rabbis or the Michael Jordan of outrigger canoeing. They know what you're talking about. Because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness.”

But as Jordan’s eyes filled during Obama's remarks, the "Crying Jordan" meme came to life in front of our eyes, and the Twitterverse churned out a new batch of memes: Crying Jordan 2.0

Photos of Jordan’s emotional reaction began sprouting on the social media site, many side-by-side with his long-viral meme.

Jordan was among 21 recipients for this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, including fellow sports icons Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, and Vin Scully, who spent 67 seasons as the broadcaster of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.

They also included Ellen DeGeneres, who has advocated for equality and fairness, and Tom Hanks, who has worked for social and environmental justice.

Obama said the activists, athletes and artists "helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way." He added that the medal is "a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better."

Photo Credit: NBC
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<![CDATA[Aztecs Cage Cal Bears in Sacramento]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:26:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSUMalikePopeDunk.jpg

It was a good homecoming for Malik Pope.

The Sacramento native scored the first six points of the game in his season debut against California.

He finished with 14 before fouling out in his first action after missing three games with a knee injury.

The game was being played at the Golden 1 Center which is the new NBA home of the Kings.

Jeremy Hemsley led the Aztecs with 15 points.

Matt Shrigley knocked down three treys – including a bank shot in the first half to help SDSU build a 42-25 halftime lead.

Trey Kell and Matt Hoetzel each added 11 while Victor Izundu also got some playing time but collected only three rebounds and four fouls in 19 minutes of action.

With the big win, the Aztecs improved to 3-1 while the Bears fell to 2-1. SDSU is now undefeated when playing in an NBA arena this season.

Next up for the Aztecs is a Monday evening contest against Savannah State on November 28 at Viejas Arena.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Fans Share their Take on the Season So Far]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 22:41:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/222*120/Nick+Romero+Screen+Shot.JPG While the San Diego Chargers were off during their bye week, Football Night in San Diego took a trip to Rawknykz Barber shop in Kearny Mesa to get the candid fans' perspective on the Bolts season so far. ]]> <![CDATA[SDSU’s Pumphrey Named Finalist For Doak Walker Award]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 22:16:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PumphreyDoakWalkerFinalist.jpg

Donnel Pumphrey is kind of a big deal.

People know him - mostly as an unbelievable running back who can make defenses look silly.

He might become even more famous in the next few weeks.

The San Diego State senior is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award which recognizes the best NCAA running back every year. Dalvin Cook of Florida State and D’Onta Foreman of Texas join Pumphrey as the finalists.

You may wonder if the dreaded “East Coast Bias” may hurt Pumphrey’s chances to win the Doak Walker – or perhaps the Heisman Trophy – before the end of the calendar year.

But the fact that there is no Pac-12 contender for either of these awards could give Pumphrey a regional boost.

There is also no SEC running back among these three finalists which seems odd because usually an Alabama runner under Nick Saban’s watch is racing into the spotlight. Wyoming’s upset of SDSU may hurt the exposure that the Aztecs receive from the national media in the next couple of weeks but Pumphrey’s illustrious career at Montezuma Mesa speaks for itself.

Pumphrey may stand only 5’9” but his achievements on the football field keep piling up towards the ceiling.

He currently ranks second in the nation in rushing yards this season (1,855) and in all-purpose yards (2,058).

Even after the Cowboys held Pumphrey to a season-low 76 rushing yards Saturday, he still moved past Pittsburgh legend Tony Dorsett as the new No. 3 career rusher in NCAA history.

This of course after passing SDSU legend Marshall Faulk earlier this season for the program’s all-time rushing record – among other offensive marks.

In addition to the Doak Walker Award, the senior is also a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award (top college player) and Walter Camp Player-of-the-Year Award.

And lest we forget, San Diego State University is campaigning for the star tailback to win the Heisman Trophy by using #Pumphrey4Heisman.

A few weeks ago on Sportscenter, ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt told a national TV audience he believed Pumphrey belongs in New York as a finalist for the Heisman.

“You’re telling me that there’s - let’s say - five people better in the country than this guy? No. Let’s get the man to New York.”

The Heisman will be awarded on December 12th in the Big Apple.

The Doak Walker Award winner will be announced on Thursday, December 8 in Atlanta.

Don’t be surprised if Pumphrey winds up toting some heavy hardware back to America’s Finest City.

In fact there’s a chance he wins all four of the awards mentioned in this article. I'm not even mad - that would be amazing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MJ's Minute: Chargers Get Back to Work After Bye Week]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 19:50:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MJsMinuteChargersBack_1200x675_814875203994.jpg After a much need bye week notable Chargers players were back on the field for practice on Monday including safety Jahleel Addae who missed nine games with a broken collar bone, inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, and wide receiver Travis Benjamin who also missed several games before the bye week due to injuries. ]]> <![CDATA[Jimmie Johnson Thanks San Diego After 7th NASCAR Title]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:41:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/jj+3.JPG

For years Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt have been auto racing’s Untouchables.

The King. The Intimidator. The luminaries that took NASCAR from the back roads of the American South to every corner of the country.

Both men won seven championships on NASCAR’s premiere series. After Earnhardt was tragically killed at Daytona International Speedway in 2001 most people believed no driver would ever win seven titles again.

Of course, folks in auto racing also didn’t think kids from Southern California would ever be major players on the NASCAR circuit. But that very same year, in 2001, Jimmie Johnson made his first Sprint Series start. If this was a Hollywood movie that would be called “foreshadowing.”

On Sunday the El Cajon native and alum of Granite Hills High School won at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his record-tying seventh title on NASCAR’s premiere series. It’s something not even Jimmie himself saw happening.

“I grew up racing because it’s what I love to do,” said Johnson, who still spends part of the year near his home town (during the season he lives near Charlotte, NC, the default capitol of the NASCAR world). “I dreamed of it maybe being a career path for me. I had no idea it would lead me to the East Coast, lead to Hendrick Motorsports, 80 wins now and these championships … there’s no way. I’ve gotta pinch myself every day.”

Johnson has now won 80 races, four more than Earnhardt. Interestingly, JJ’s teammate is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who took time after the championship to let Johnson know how his father would have responded to having a third driver share racing’s most hallowed record.

“Dale spent the time and filled me in on his dad some and how his dad probably would have come up there and given me a head lock and told me good job and been very proud of me.”

With his win in Miami, Johnson has won at every track on the circuit except three: Chicago, Kentucky and Watkins Glen. It’s now possible to get another milestone of reaching Victory Lane at every track on the circuit.

“That would be a fun one to take down. Sure I’ll focus on it and look at it but I’ve never really been motivated by stats. It would be awesome if we’re able to do it. Of course we’ll start the season trying the win the (Daytona) 500 and then start looking ahead to the Championship.”

The support for Johnson on social media from his home town was immense. Through his Jimmie Johnson Foundation he has donated hundreds of thousands to San Diego County schools and built multiple homes for families in El Cajon. For all his fans back home, JJ had a special message.

“Thank you, that’s so cool. Thank you everybody for your support.”

At the age of 40, Johnson is still in his prime as a NASCAR driver. His quest for an unprecedented 8th title begins on February 26th at the Daytona 500.