Couch Potato: All Is Quiet On The Bladen Sports Front
By Sonny Jones
Let’s take a break from the games and practices and not worry about wins and losses for a few days. It’s time to enjoy the holidays in whatever manner you choose.
The Bladen County sports schedule has come to halt until Wednesday. That’s when the West Bladen boys basketball team hosts the Bladen Offroad Christmas Tournament with four games each day at The Castle. The East Bladen boys and girls basketball teams play Dec. 29-30 in the Wilmington Hoggard Holiday Classic.
Bladen County middle school basketball games and Bladen County Recreation Department youth basketball games will start after the first of the new year.
Of course, there will be plenty of sports to watch on TV to fill your eyeballs until they water.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to spend time with family, anticipate a big bearded guy in a red suit bearing gifts sliding down your chimney or slipping through your door and, if you are a person of faith, remembering the real reason for the season.
Merry Christmas and thank you for your support of Bladen Online.
BOWLS, BOWLS, BOWLS
The drive to watch every bowl game continues. Streaming is my friend. Only game not watched thus far is the Celebration Bowl, but I know the results. Haven’t known the results prior to watching any game.
Games played: 14 (through Dec 22). Games watched live: 6. Games streamed: 7.
• ARMED FORCES BOWL: Air Force 30, Baylor 15
(Played Thursday, Dec. 22, watched Thursday, Dec. 22)
If you don’t have a dog in the fight, there’s no better feeling than watching a service academy football team dominate a game. That’s what happened on a very cold night in Fort Worth, Texas where the wind chill was minus-4 at kickoff. Air Force, which, ironically, led the nation in yards per game on the ground and in time of possession, outrushed the Bears 276-to-48 and doubled the time of possession. The Falcons led 9-7 at half, then broke it open with three touchdowns in the second half for a 30-7 advantage. With the transfer portal and NIL this may be the last time a service academy team wins 10 games in a season.
• FRISCO BOWL: Boise State 35, North Texas 32
(Played Saturday, Dec. 17, watched Thursday, Dec. 22)
Seven touchdowns in the second half, five lead changes in the game and brief scrap on the North Texas sideline following a hit out of bounds made for an entertaining game. Neither team appeared to be in the Christmas spirit. Quarterback Taylen Green accounted for three touchdowns and freshman Ashton Jeanty ran for 178 yards and a score to spark the Broncos to their first bowl win since 2014. North Texas QB Austin Aune is 29 years old and spent six seasons in the New York Yankees organization, reaching Triple-A, before opting to leave baseball.
• BOCA RATON BOWL: Toledo 21, Liberty 19
(Played Tuesday, Dec. 20, watched Thursday, Dec. 22)
The Mid-American Conference champion hung on to win on a rainy night in southeast Florida. Dequan Finn ran for a score and passed for another for the Rockets in game dominated by defense. Toledo had possession for 40 of the 60 minutes. Liberty pulled within 21-19 with 3:40 remaining on wide receiver pass of 67 yards from C.J. Daniels to tight end Bentley Hanshaw, but the Flames’ 2-point conversion failed. It wasn’t the prettiest game of bowl season, but the weather played a role.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY
• 1972 — The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 on Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception,” in an AFC Divisional playoff game. On 4th-and-10 on their own 40-yard line with 22 seconds remaining and no time outs. Terry Bradshaw, under pressure, throws a pass over the middle to Oakland’s 35-yard line which is deflected by Oakland’s Jack Tatum. Running back Franco Harris catches the deflection at the Raiders’ 43-yard line and runs down the left sideline for a touchdown.
POTATO PICKS TO WATCH TODAY
• INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Houston, 3 p.m., ESPN
• GASPARILLA BOWL: Wake Forest vs. Missouri, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
• NHL: Philadelphia at Carolina, 7 p.m., BALLY SOUTH
• NBA: Milwaukee at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m., NBATV
• NBA: Memphis at Phoenix, 10 p.m., ESPN
Sonny Jones can be reached at email@example.com.