CCSF Rams pull off wild comeback over DVC in opener


CCSF Rams pull off wild comeback over DVC in opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- The reigning 2011 City College National Champions from San Francisco began their 2012 title defense facing the Diablo Valley College Vikings, and after a wild second half, the Rams were able to extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games with a thrilling 48-41 overtime victory at home Saturday.

The CCSF Rams were 12-0 last year, and their only loss in an 11-1 2010 campaign came in their final game of the season -- the National Championship game.

Their undefeated 2012 season, however, was in jeopardy in their opener. Trailing DVC 41-27 in the second half, and frustrated with poor execution and an excess of penalties, CCSF began their comeback.

In the fourth quarter, San Francisco starting quarterback and Berkeley native Andrew Spivey rolled left, just as he had the play prior. But this time, he stopped, rotated and threw across his body, barely getting the long throw to receiver J.J. Hudson in the front corner of the end zone. Place kicker Matthew Vultaggio's extra point made it 41-34.

The defense, led by linebacker and team captain Tyrone Ward, quickly put a stop to the subsequent Vikings drive. Punting from their own end, DVC made a critical mistake, hiking the ball high over the punter and all the way back to the three-yard line, where Spivey punched it in for the game-tying touchdown.

Spivey finished 29-for-52 for 465 yards, six touchdowns through the air and the one game-tying touchdown on the ground.

"In his debut as a starter, Spivey was very impressive," CCSF quarterbacks coach and Marin County native Jim Collins said, "He threw the ball well and made good decisions. The more pressure-packed the situation, the more he thrived. And he showed tremendous leadership qualities on the field and on the sideline."

DVC got the ball late with a chance to march down the field and take the lead, but the Rams defense came up big.

Ward put a loud hit on Vikings quarterback Quinn Kaehler. And a few plays later on second and fifteen, Kaehler, who finished the game with over 450 yards through the air, rolled out to his right with time. Maybe he was feeling the affects of Ward's hit, because his ball down the right sideline fluttered and hung up in the air for safety Broughan Jantz to pull down for the interception.

The athletic play put his offense on their own 12-yard line with 1:46 left in a 41-41 tie game.

It was time for one of San Francisco's premier prospects -- wide receiver Kyani Harris -- to take over.

"Kyani is a tremendous physical talent with an exceptional understanding of offensive football," Collins said. "Most of his plays required him to make a choice after the ball was snapped, and he made the right decisions and executed them for us each time."

Spivey hooked up with Harris four times for 55 yards during the final regulation drive, and downed the ball at the 11-yard line with seven seconds remaining.

They were seven long seconds.

Placekicker Matthew Vultaggio, who had a field goal blocked before dangerously clanging an extra point off the post and in earlier in the game, had a chance to give the Rams the regulation victory.
The snap is down. The kick is up. ... The Rams are offsides.

The ball sailed through the uprights as the referees marched the line of scrimmage back to the 16-yard line.
The snap is down. The kick is up. ... The Vikings call timeout.

The ball once more sailed harmlessly through the goalposts and the teams lined up again.

This time, the kick would count. And this time, Vultaggio pulled the 34-yard, game-winning field goal attempt wide right as time expired, forcing overtime in the season opener.

Overtime rules give each team a possession starting at the 25-yard line. The Rams didn't waste any downs, converting a 25-yard touchdown from Spivey to Dezmon Epps on their first play and handing an opportunity to seal the win to their defense.

The Vikings looked to have matched the Rams' score on third down when the referee put his arms in the air after an acrobatic catch on the right edge of the end zone, but the far-side referee came streaking across the field to overrule the call, indicating the pass hit the ground for an incompletion.

CCSF batted down the fourth-down pass attempt to make the comeback official and move to 1-0 on the young season.

"The offense executed well down the stretch," Collins said, "But the defense kept us in the game the entire second half."

The Rams are back in action Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in Oakland against Laney College.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft


Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title


Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."