Washington loses thriller in Detroit, 30-27, as penalty helps foil Alex Smith’s career game

The loss was much like others for Washington this season: a train wreck of a first half, an impressive second half and as many positive plays as costly mistakes. The penalty by Young wasn’t the sole reason for Washington’s loss; it was merely last on a long list of self-inflicted wounds.

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Coach Ron Rivera said. “It’s just unfortunate it didn’t work out that way. Like I told the guys, we left nine points out on the field and we gave them three. You can’t play against two teams on Sunday — them and us. And sometimes we do ourselves in by some of the mistakes we make.”

Washington tied the score at 27 to give Detroit 16 seconds to try to win it before the game would go into overtime, and the Lions nearly did on a deep pass along the left sideline. But after he overthrew Quintez Cephus, Matthew Stafford was pushed to the ground by Young, and the roughing-the-passer penalty gave Detroit a free first down and moved it 15 yards closer to field goal range.

After Stafford’s quick completion to Marvin Jones Jr., Matt Prater nailed the long kick for the win as the clock expired.

The loss is crushing for Washington’s playoff hopes, minimal as they may have been, but it showed the resolve of its players — especially its quarterback. Smith had career highs in completions (38), passing attempts (55) and passing yards (390); completed 69 percent of his passes; spread the ball to eight different receivers; and, for the first time in his career, had back-to-back 300-yard games. More significant, he turned around an offense that sputtered in the first half.

“I think that the scary part was how normal it felt,” Smith said. “It felt really good; it felt really normal and a little bit of I got to pinch myself of how lucky I am to feel that way.”

The game’s opening sequence was a snapshot of Washington’s greatest frustrations this season. Smith led the offense to the Detroit 14-yard line after completing 22- and 19-yard passes to Isaiah Wright and Terry McLaurin scrambling for five yards himself and turning to his backs to carry the rest.

But a reverse to J.D. McKissic was blown up and resulted in a loss of 10 yards. And then Smith was sacked for a loss of 14 yards. Washington not only lost its chance to finally score a touchdown on its first possession, but the sack took it out of field goal range.

Detroit needed only five plays and 1:52 to score on its opening drive. After the Lions picked up 37 rushing yards, Stafford found wide receiver Marvin Hall, who sped past cornerback Kendall Fuller for a 55-yard touchdown.

Fuller hadn’t allowed a single touchdown in coverage this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Two drives later, he was involved in another long passing touchdown, though it’s unclear whether it was he or cornerback Jimmy Moreland

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Washington coach mum on starting QB vs. Cal; San Jose State QB honored

In Jimmy Lake’s debut as Washington head coach, he’s not going to share anything about who his starting quarterback will be before Saturday’s opener at Cal.

“Great question. I guess we will find out about 7:34 p.m. Pacific time, right around there on Saturday night,” Lake said Monday.

No bigger question surrounds Lake’s first game in charge of the Huskies than who will be under center against the Bears. After several weeks of practice and a few scrimmages, Lake is still keeping the decision under wraps as to which of his four options will take that first snap.

The favorite from the start has appeared to be graduate transfer Kevin Thomson because he has the most experience. Thomson was the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the year last year at Sacramento State before deciding to transfer back home to finish his college career at Washington.

Thomson threw 450 passes and 27 touchdowns in 2019. Washington’s other three QB options — Jacob Sirmon, Dylan Morris and Ethan Garbers — have combined to throw three passes in college, all of them by Sirmon last season.

Whoever the starter is, he will direct a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator John Donovan. Lake has also said the Huskies could use multiple QBs to start and all four were listed as potential starters on the depth chart.

“If there’s a guy that can just take over the reins and be the guy, then he’ll be the guy,” Lake said. “But from a defensive standpoint, if there’s a guy back there that can just take control, that’s difficult to defend. If there’s a two-headed monster back there, that’s difficult to defend. We’re going to do whatever is best for our team to make sure we get victories.”

Washington has been blessed with experience at the position for years. Jake Browning was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Huskies and Jacob Eason brought one year’s worth of experience starting in the SEC when he took over for Browning last season.

San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel was named Mountain West bOffensive Player of the Week.

San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel was named Mountain West bOffensive Player of the Week.

Tony Avelar / Associated Press

Lake said his decision to not announce the starter comes from a competitive standpoint. His predecessor, Chris Petersen, did the same ahead of Browning’s first game in 2015.

Honor for Spartan: San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel was named the Mountain West Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. The grad transfer from Arkansas completed 34 of 47 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns in the Spartans’ 38-21 win over New Mexico on Saturday. The Spartans will try to go 3-0 for the first time since 1982 when they face San Diego State (2-0) in Carson (Los Angeles County) on Friday night.

— Steve Kroner

Briefly: Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford, a redshirt junior and an All-ACC selection last season, has opted out of the Panthers’ final four games. … The SEC docked Florida coach Dan Mullen $25,000 for his role in a benches-clearing brawl

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Career years for John Wall, Bradley Beal has calm Washington Wizards on rise

BOSTON — The visitors’ locker room was quiet. Its tenants were packing up and preparing for another day. Such is life for the young Washington Wizards in their approach to the postseason — unhappy and yet optimistic.

“When we’re making shots, we’re a great defensive team,” John Wall was saying after the Wizards’ 110-102 loss to the Celtics Monday. “When we’re not making shots, we’ve got to play with that same defensive intensity. We’ve got to figure that out and do that. That’s what we have a problem with at times.”

The Celtics had celebrated the return of Isaiah Thomas (25 points after an absence of two games) by splitting their season series with Washington and increasing their chances of maintaining the No. 2 seed in the East for a potential semifinal-series matchup against the No. 3 Wizards. The Celtics have a home-friendly schedule over the next four weeks; the Wizards, with eight of 12 remaining on the road, will be pushing uphill.

The success of the Celtics is no longer a surprise, even though their best player is Thomas, the 5-foot-9 former No. 60 pick who has turned himself into a two-time All-Star and the NBA’s best closer this season. While Thomas and his Celtics have arrived ahead of schedule, the Wizards were bred for contention. Wall, the All-Star point guard, was a No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft. Bradley Beal, the Wizards’ leading scorer, went No. 3 two years later, and Porter — a leading Most-Improved candidate – was the No. 3 pick in 2013.

But the road to NBA maturity is a winding pass up through the mountains. After winning first-round series in 2014 and again in ’15, the Wizards — injured and demoralized — backslid last year to .500 and missed the playoffs. That negative trend appeared to be snowballing this season amid a 7-13 start by early December. So how is it that the Wizards have managed to go 35-15 since then — with a win total (26) for 2017 that ranks No. 1 in the NBA?

Much of it has to do with the calming presence of new coach Scott Brooks. But there is also something good to be said for the doubts and disappointments the Wizards have endured in recent years — frustrations that may enable their young leaders to play with unexpected maturity in the playoffs next month. “I definitely feel older than 23,” said Beal at the morning shootaround as he looked forward to the game against the Celtics that night. “Everything that we’ve been through the last five years, it definitely puts some years on you.”

“As a player I wasn’t as even-keel as I am now,” said Brooks. “I was up and down with every shot, or everytime someone would score on me. But as a coach I feel like you have to be consistent. In order to have our players be consistent, I have to show that consistent leadership. On the outside I’m looking calm, but

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George Washington University Students Told To Prepare For Election Week Unrest

Students at George Washington University, whose main campus is four blocks from the White House, have been told to prepare for “election related disruptions” and to stockpile a week’s worth of food and medications. Though most of GW’s 26,000 students are attending classes remotely for the fall semester, a small number are living on or near campus.

Christy Anthony, director of GW’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, sent emails to students late last week advising them to prepare “as you would for a hurricane or a snowstorm.” The email told students that the election may not be decided on November 3. “Some may want to celebrate while others may protest,” it said.

In a statement reported by the publication Inside Higher Ed, Crystal Nosal, a university spokesperson, said the email was sent after D.C. government officials advised they were preparing for a “very active election season.” Peter Newsham, the city’s chief of police, has said, ‘it is widely believed that there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins.”

Josh Ingersoll, a GW graduate student who lives 40 minutes west of campus, says “it felt kind of surreal” when he received the email on Friday. “It’s disheartening getting that email and seeing all the storefronts in D.C. boarded up in preparation for Election Day tomorrow,” he says. He adds that he thinks “everything will work out,” though “there could be protests in the streets” this week. He says he has discussed with friend that protesters could come from either side of the political aisle, “but personally I’ve seen more activity from white supremacists.”

In Rochester, Ingersoll’s hometown, there was a public moment of silence held for Daniel Prude, a black man with schizophrenia who died of suffocation in March after police restrained him with a mesh hood. “The Proud Boys showed up,” he says. President Trump famously referenced the Proud Boys in his first debate with Vice President Biden when he said the group, which is associated with the white nationalist movement, should “stand back and stand by.”

Ingersoll says he’s been pleased with how the GW administration has handled communication with students throughout the pandemic and racial justice protests. “They’ve made sure we’re aware of anything that could change our ability to safely access the campus,” he says.

That’s helped students feel safe. “Most people are going to grab a couple of extra boxes of mac and cheese and a couple extra gallons of water,” he says. “Nobody seems to be panicked.”

For more on preparations for election day unrest, read this.

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