Hagins, Delaware outlast Drexel in double OT

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Hagins, Delaware outlast Drexel in double OT

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, Del. -- Jamelle Hagins had had enough. Already with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 42 minutes on the floor, he wanted no more.

The clock read 3.7 seconds late in the second overtime against Drexel with Delaware up by two. Drexel's inbounds pass went to Frantz Massenat, who took the ball upcourt for the Dragons, drove the lane and got off a decent, yet off-balance, shot at the buzzer.

But Hagins was there to challenge him and deflect the ball just enough, perhaps as it was already on its way down. No matter -- the referees' whistles remained silent and Hagins secured a 73-71 victory for his Blue Hens at Bob Carpenter Center (see Instant Replay).

"I just didn't want it to go into a third overtime, so I had to do something," Hagins said. "I definitely got a piece of it."

On the final stat sheet, Hagins wasn't officially credited with a block, and if you asked Drexel coach Bruiser Flint what he thought about that, he'd agree.

"It looked like goaltending from where I was, to be honest with you," Flint said. "I think Jamelle Hagins will tell you he goaltended, but I'm not a ref."

Well, Jamelle, did you?

"Oh yeah," he said. "I definitely did."

"No, you didn't. It was on its way up," Delaware coach Monté Ross quickly interjected. "He got hit in the head. He's concussed."

It was all laughs and smiles after the game for the Blue Hens, who improved to 14-13 overall and 10-5 in the CAA to move into a second-place tie with Towson.

Flint's attitude was understandably the opposite, as his Dragons -- preseason favorites to win the conference -- remained stuck in seventh place as they fell to 11-16, 7-8.

"I thought our guys battled," Flint said. "We got into unbelievable foul trouble. I had half my team on the bench. ... They called a lot of fouls on us today. They won the game from the foul line, pretty much. Did they make any baskets in the overtimes?"

In fact, the Blue Hens made just three shots -- all layups -- in the extra sessions, meaning only six of 21 post-regulation points came from the field. The rest were scored at the charity stripe, where they converted 15 of 21 attempts in the overtimes, and 29 of 42 tries overall.

Delaware made more free throws than Drexel took in the game. The Dragons, who committed 32 fouls to the Blue Hens' 18, finished the night with 15 for 21 from the line. Four Drexel players fouled out.

For the Hens, no bucket may have been bigger than Devon Saddler's easy layup to break a 67-67 deadlock with 1:58 left in the second OT. The deuce came just 16 seconds after Saddler had coughed up the ball to Massenat, but as the Drexel guard drove the ball the other way and attempted to lay it in, 6-foot-2 Jarvis Threatt emphatically denied him and secured his own block. He then fed it to Saddler, who was still recovering at the other end of the floor.

Saddler finished with a game-high 31 points -- one shy of his career-best mark -- on 9-for-14 shooting. He sank 11 of 15 free throws and logged 49 minutes of game time.

The 148th meeting between the two schools was just the second to ever go into double overtime, and the first since the 1936-37 season. It also marked the second time the Blue Hens, who lead the all-time series 76-72, defeated the Dragons this year. On Jan. 28 in Philadelphia, Delaware nearly blew a 15-point lead with less than five minutes to go before escaping with a 66-64 win.

"Seems like Groundhog Day -- just your regular, run-of-the-mill Drexel-Delaware game," Ross remarked jokingly after the game. "I think what you saw today is what college athletics is all about -- two teams playing their hearts out for, forever, it seemed like."

In the win, Hagins, whose big game-ending play capped an incredible double-double day, became the seventh active Division I player to reach the 1,000-rebound mark. He entered the contest at 999 and upped the total to 1,017.

"People don't realize what he's done. He's just amazing," Ross said. "To score 1,000 points and then grab 1,000 rebounds ... I'll tell you what. If you'd have told me when he got on campus that he was going to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, I would've bet you anything that you were crazy.

"But his progression has been tremendous and I'm glad he's on our team."

Hagins, a senior, will be on the team for at least four more games, the next which will come Saturday at UNC-Wilmington. The Blue Hens will then wrap up the regular season at Hofstra and home against George Mason before the CAA tournament commences.

Drexel is next on the road again Saturday at Towson. As it stands now, with the Dragons in seventh and the Hens in second, a third matchup in the postseason is possible. It last occurred in 2008.

Temple great Tyler Matakevich soaks in rookie return to Philadelphia with Steelers

Temple great Tyler Matakevich soaks in rookie return to Philadelphia with Steelers

It’s a picturesque early autumn Thursday evening in the Delaware Valley. One of those nights when swaths of orange from the sunset to the west pierce the high sky like shards of broken glass.

Weather reports say it’s a similar type of evening all the way across the other side of the commonwealth in Pittsburgh, where Tyler Matakevich now makes his seasonal home. There could have been monsoon-like rains or gale-force winds or any type of terrible weather outside and it still couldn’t hush the excitement in Matakevich’s voice that torqued its way through the phone.

That’s because the former Temple Owl linebacker is less than 72 hours away from returning to play at the same field where he plied his trade for four years and left a program legend. And he’s coming back living his dream as a Pittsburgh Steeler. On Temple’s homecoming weekend, no less.

“I’m definitely excited for this and to come back to Philly,” the 22-year-old rookie told CSNPhilly.com prior to Week 3’s Steelers-Eagles game. “I talk to a lot of the guys still on the team like (senior quarterback) P.J. (Walker), (senior linebacker) Jarred Alwan, (senior linebacker) Stephaun Marshall. I know all those guys are looking forward to me coming back and spending time with them. … I hope to see those guys for a little bit. A good amount of them are coming to the game, too, so I’m excited about that.”

The anticipation in the young linebacker is evident. He’s coming back to his “home away from home.”


Matakevich is arguably the greatest football player in Temple history. For four years, he was the leader of a defense that grew to become one of the fiercest in the nation.  He recorded over 100 tackles in each of his four seasons on North Broad Street and added seven sacks and seven interceptions.

Not too shabby for a guy who had only one FBS-level scholarship offer and only got a shot to play as a freshman when the upperclassman above him on the 2012 depth chart was injured before the fourth game of the season. In what was supposed to be a spot start, Matakevich, then a fresh-faced 18-year-old, recorded 15 total tackles after playing sparingly on special teams the prior three games.

Incredibly, Matakevich wasn’t even the player Temple was recruiting when Matt Rhule, Temple’s current head coach who was then the recruiting coordinator under former head man Steve Addazio, went to Milford Academy Prep School in Matakevich’s native Connecticut on a scouting trip. Milford’s coach wouldn’t let Rhule leave without watching film of Matakevich.

“We watched his highlight DVD and he just kinda had it,” Rhule told CSNPhilly.com last December. “We went out and watched him play and he had it. (Former Temple offensive line coach) Justin (Frye) and I just kind of had a feeling this guy was special. I like to think I’ve always had a feel for linebackers. So we called Steve and he said if you guys think he’s that good, offer him.”

Rhule’s gut feeling turned out to be more correct than he ever imagined.

Matakevich put an exclamation point on his excellent college career with a monster 2015 season when he recorded 138 total tackles, five interceptions and 4½ sacks en route to being the first Temple defensive player to earn first-team All-American honors and the first Owl to do so at any position since 1986. He also brought home some impressive hardware as he won the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronco Nagurski Trophy, both annually given to the best defensive player in all of college football.

Simply put, he is this generation’s Owl. Revered on North Broad Street, he is the player this crop of Temple fans will tell tales of watching play to future generations.

Matakevich accomplished all that during a season in which Temple shed its downtrodden, sad-sack label to the national eye by busting into and staying in the top 25 for the first time since the end of the 1979 season, beating Penn State for the first time since 1941 and, most notably, hosting Notre Dame in a primetime instant classic that was preceded earlier in the day by ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast from Independence Hall in front of a massive live audience.

Those who’ve followed the program, intently or casually, would have thought there would be confirmation of human life on Mars before those last two things ever happened.

But they happened. It all happened and Matakevich was the freckled face of the revolution.

“It was something special and something I’ll always remember,” Temple’s all-time leading tackler (493) said of last season. “Our senior class, what we went through, going 2-10 in 2013, coaching changes, 6-6 and not going to a bowl to the season we had last year, it was just relieving, really. Such an awesome feeling that I was just able to sit and reflect on it. I was actually doing it the other day with (Redskins defensive lineman and former Temple teammate) Matt Ioannidis. I’ve got to pinch myself a little bit. When people are telling me all these things we accomplished, I’m sort of like, ‘Wow, we did do that.’”

Despite the accolades, Matakevich wasn’t seen as a great NFL prospect in large part because of a perceived lack of athleticism.

He was too slow. He couldn’t jump high enough. He wasn’t strong enough. The list of knocks can keep going.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound tackling machine slipped down draft boards and watched teammates corner Tavon Young (Ravens) and Ioannidis get selected. But he didn’t fall all the way off the board. In the seventh round, the Steelers used pick No. 246, eighth from last, to take a flier on the Temple linebacker.

Matakevich was left virtually unwanted by the big boys. Sounds familiar, huh?

“Once I finally got that phone call, I was just so excited,” Matakevich said. “That’s been my dream since I was a little kid. And to finally actually get that phone call, it made it feel like everything was worth it. All those long days I put in. I told the coaches, ‘This is just the beginning.’”

Matakevich earned his keep during training camp and was rewarded with a spot on the Steelers as a special teamer.

“He’s doing some of the things here that he did in Philadelphia,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said last week. “He’s displayed great instincts and urgency. He gets to the ball and he’s always around the ball. He makes a lot of plays. He’s acclimating himself right now in terms of being one of our core special teams contributors. I don’t see why he can’t be great in that area while he continues to grow as a young linebacker. I’ve been pleased with his progress.”


Fast forward to a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in South Philadelphia. Earlier in the day, Young recorded his first career interception with the Ravens and Ioannidis suited up for the first time with the Redskins in a regular-season game after he was activated from the practice squad.

But here is Matakevich, standing in a familiar tunnel, staring out at a familiar swatch of grass. He’s standing in the tunnel the Owls come out of and staring out toward the grass he tackled so many foes on.

But he’s not wearing cherry and not coming out to the sounds of Temple’s band and a screaming student section. He’s wearing Steelers black and gold and he’s standing in enemy territory, surrended by a sea of Eagles midnight green.

“It was awesome being back on that field again,” Matakevich said after Carson Wentz and the Eagles pummeled his Steelers, 34-3. The rookie saw kickoff and punt return snaps, but he did not record a tackle.

“It didn't go the way we wanted it to, obviously. But I was so excited and so amped up. I played a lot of football here. Just to have the opportunity to come back and play here. I couldn’t be anymore excited and happy. I just tried to enjoy it. I get to keep playing football for a living. Not many guys get to move on after TU. So I’m just thankful and enjoying it and having fun.”

“I was just so happy to see him get out there and play and come back to his old stadium,” Rhule said of his former pupil after Sunday’s game. “For me, it’s always gratifying any time I see any of the guys that played for me being successful in anything, whether it’s their personal lives, their business lives, their football lives. It’s a lot of fun for me. It’s pretty cool for me to turn on the TV and see Tavon making big plays for the Ravens or to see Tyler out there playing and see Matt get activated and make the Redskins.

“I was really happy for Tyler. I’m proud of him and I’m excited he got the chance to come back and play in Philly.”

Matakevich still keeps a keen eye on the Owls and tries not to miss a game, even though professional responsibilities sometimes get in the way. He wasn’t able to catch Temple’s 48-20 homecoming win over Charlotte and had to later settle for highlights because the Steelers were traveling to Philadelphia, but he watched all of the narrow 34-27 defeat at Penn State two weeks ago.

“Let me tell you, it’s been frustrating,” Matakevich said with a chuckle. “I’ve never had to watch those guys play from so far away and now I’ve started doing that. At first, it took a little adjusting getting used to it. But I watch. I thought we had it. I really thought we had that win at Penn State.”

Matakevich mentioned he was able to spend time on Saturday night with former teammate and Temple star running back Jahad Thomas after the Owls’ victory. He and Thomas remain close and Matakevich is always there to provide a listening ear when needed.

That’s the thing about Matakevich and his relationship with Philadelphia, a place he gleefully calls his adopted hometown. Though he’s a Connecticut guy through and through and always will be, there will always be people and places here that will be a part of him forever.

“I love it here,” he said of Philadelphia. “I have some unbelievable memories here, especially on this field. It’s always been good to me. It’s always going to be my home away from home.”

- CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro contributed to this story.

AP Source: LSU fires Les Miles, promote Ed Orgeron as interim head coach

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AP Source: LSU fires Les Miles, promote Ed Orgeron as interim head coach

Two people familiar with the decision say LSU has fired head football coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted defensive line coach Ed Orgeron to interim head coach.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

Miles' firing, reported first by The Advocate of Baton Rouge, comes one day after No. 18 LSU (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) lost 18-13 at Auburn.

Miles went 114-34 at LSU, the second-most victories in school history. He coached the Tigers to a national title in the 2007 season.

But LSU has not been a late-season contender for a national championship in the past four seasons and started slower than its experience-laden squad was expected to this season.