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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Johnson got his head on straight Wednesday after chatting with the teammate who was briefly the starting quarterback.

    BEREA, Ohio -- Duke Johnson, frustrated by his lack of chances all season, got a pep talk Thursday morning from someone who has it even worse than him, and it helped him put things in perspective.

    He sat down with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was benched in favor of Baker Mayfield in Week 3 and is now the backup QB.  

    "He told me to just be more positive,'' Johnson told cleveland.com. "Just focus on all the good. It's not all bad. It's not all good. You're going to have some days when you're not feeling so well. Just find a way to get through it.''

    Despite the fact Taylor lost his job when he suffered a concussion against the Jets, he helped Johnson get his mind right. Taylor, who paid for teammates to travel for offseason workouts and was supposed to start much of the season, has kept a low profile since his benching, and hasn't complained.

    "He's going through things himself, but you're still able to lean on him, you're still able to talk to him,'' said Johnson. "He's very positive, he's a very good dude. It's his beliefs. It's what he believes in and I got a glimpse of that today just talking to him. Regardless, he's still our captain."

    Taylor's talk had an immediate impact. "I just had a more positive practice today because I talked to him,'' said Johnson, who admitted he was getting down by how his season was going.

    "It could be frustrating but it wasn't over the top,'' he said. "Just trying to figure it out.''

    Last season, Johnson earned Browns Player of the Year honors from the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. He led the team with 74 catches for 693 yards with three TD passes. He also rushed 82 times for 348 yards and four TDs.

    After five games last season, he had 23 catches for 270 yards and a TD. This year, he has 10 for 91 yards. At his current clip, he'll finish with 32 catches for 291 yards, and 55 rushes for 240 yards.

    "I don't think these games have to be as hard as they are,'' Johnson said. "I think I can help this team win given more opportunities.''

    Coach Hue Jackson has consistently advocated for more touches for Johnson. In 2016, he finished third on the team with 53 catches for 514 yards. Jackson indicated he could be used more with Rashard Higgins (sprained MCL) out for 2-4 weeks.

    "Duke's skillset allows us to do a lot of different things with him,'' he said. "We split him out a little bit this past week, and I'm sure we will do other things with him as we go. Duke is very talented. Obviously, when he has the ball in his hands, good things happen.''

    Mayfield, 15 takeaways and why the Browns 'ain't no joke'

    Johnson, who apparently hasn't equally impressed offensive coordinator Todd Haley, said his primary job recently has been that of a blocker.

    "I had a bad first week of blocking, I wouldn't call it bad, but it wasn't up to my standards,'' he said. "In these last three or four weeks I've been blocking more than I've blocked since I've been in the NFL and I'm taking pride in it. I'm having fun doing it because it gives Baker (Mayfield) and our team a chance to win.''

    Haley, who played Johnson 51 percent of the snaps last week after he averaged in the mid-30s the previous three weeks, said he's been trying to get Johnson more touches.

    "You want all of your players involved,'' he said. "At running back, sometimes that's a little tougher than others. You can't just run him out there. We've been heavy pass with him in there. We have to make sure that we 're running the ball with him and throwing it to him. At the same time, we are trying to get Nick Chubb carries.

    "He had a little bad luck in there in his opportunities, but when you open the game with Carlos (Hyde) running into the teeth of the defense for 10-11 yards, that gets you excited, too.''

    He said "it's a good problem, and it's all part of the recipe for being a real good offense. Duke, I think he played more plays than normal. We were in third down a bunch and two-minute, and at the end of the game two-minute, we had a lot of situations that got him in there, but I thought he made the most of his opportunities.''

    Johnson, who had one catch for seven yards against the Ravens and five carries for 35 yards, did come through in a big way in the 12-9 overtime victory, rushing for 15, five and four yards to set up Greg Joseph's 37-yard gamewinning field goal.

    With Higgins going down in that game and the Browns not signing veteran Rishard Matthews, Johnson thought he might be called upon this week to play more receiver. So far, he hasn't been told that's the case.

    He said he hasn't marched in to Haley and complained.

    "I've just never been a big fan of going up to coaches and demanding the ball,'' he said. "I've always been the type of guy to let my performance show and my history of making plays do all the talking and at the end of the day it's up to you how much I get the ball if I even get the ball. I'm always going to let my work do the talking.''

    Johnson said if Haley "comes to me and say he needs me, 'yes, coach, I've got you.' Other than that I just don't like to feel like I'm trying to do your job. Because it's your job as special teams (coordinator), offensive coordinator, I don't want them to feel like I'm crossing nobody's boundaries.''

    Likewise, he hasn't volunteered to return punts even though the Browns are struggling in that area.    

    "My one job is to whatever they need from me, whatever they ask of me,'' he said. "I never returned a punt return in my life until I did it here. High school don't count because it's backyard football. My first time doing it was here because they asked me to. They needed me to do it. I would do it again if they wanted me to."

    Johnson, who signed a three-year extension in the offseason worth $15.6 million, was hoping to build on his big 2017 season.

    "You've got to have a lot of hope,'' he said.

    Because of Taylor, he has a little more today.


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    The Brewers had no trouble sweeping the Rockies in the Divisional Round, but the Dodgers have arguably the best pitcher of this generation and a strong starting rotation backing him up. Who advances?

    Playoff baseball gets going on Friday with the National League Championship Series featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers had no trouble sweeping the Colorado Rockies in the Divisional Round, only allowing two runs in the three games. But the Dodgers have arguably the best pitcher of this generation and a strong starting rotation backing him up. Who advances? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    The only problem the Brewers might have is the extra day of rest they got, and even that isn't a real issue. The Brewers dispatched the Rockies in three games, totally dominating the dominating the Rockies on both sides of the ball. 

    Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas, and Travis Shaw are coming into the NLCS hitting over .350 in the NLDS and have a 0.64 ERA as a team. The Dodgers might be talented, but they can't deal with a team this hot.

    The Dodgers had very little trouble with the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS and look to continue that momentum heading into their matchup with a red-hot Brewers team. If Clayton Kershaw continues to throw fire, it won't be hard. 

    The future Hall of Famer didn't let an NLDS Game 1 snub get him down as he threw eight scoreless innings. The Dodgers have also been adept at coming up big when it matters most, with some big hits by Manny Machado and Max Muncy. The Dodgers have been one of the most talented teams all year. The Brewers aren't going to stop them from reaching the World Series for the second straight year.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Landry set the record for most receptions in the first five seasons of a career, but he has an even loftier goal. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Browns receiver Jarvis Landry set an NFL record Sunday for most receptions in the first five seasons of a career at 429, but he has his sights on a loftier goal.

    With three Pro Bowls under his belt at the age of only 25, Landry has Pro Football Hall of Fame aspirations.

    "Absolutely. Absolutely,'' he said Thursday. "That's every kid's, every guy that plays this game's dream to eventually make it to the Hall of Fame and be recognized (with) the guys that paved the way and did it before us. And to have an opportunity to be there in history and that's forever, that's definitely a goal of mine.''

    Through five games, Landry leads the Browns with 29 catches for 381 yards, and is tied for the team lead with one TD. At that pace, he'd finish the season with 93 receptions for 1,219 yards and three TDs.

    But with Baker Mayfied at quarterback and the future looking so bright, are the gears in his mind clicking even more about someday having his bust in Canton, Ohio?

    "It was clicking since the day I put on pads at 12 years old,'' he said. "I made my mind up then and decided then. I don't think it's every a good idea to wait until you get into something to decide you want to be great at it. So I decided a long time ago, and that's been one of my goals though.''

    Duke Johnson, frustrated by lack of chances, gets a pep talk from teammate

    Landry said he didn't know he was close to the record until someone told him last week. With his 429 receptions in 69 games, he surpassed future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who had 426 in 76 games from 2004-08. Fitzgerald, an 11-time Pro Bowler was coached by Todd Haley in Arizona, and was a teammate of Browns backup QB Drew Stanton.

    "It's a great feeling,'' said Landry, who led the NFL with 112 receptions last year. "Larry, being an idol of mine, I hear stories from Haley all of the time, and I talk to Drew about him, as well. To have an opportunity to pass him in that category, it feels really good."

    Early on his Dolphins career, it hit him that he was going to be shattering receiving marks.

    "In my second year, I broke the second-year mark, then the third, the fourth and now the fifth,'' he said. "That's when it kind of hit me my second year. I want to say that my first year, Odell (Beckham Jr.) broke it. That's when it kind of hit me, and it's been like that ever since."

    Landry is in some great company in the top 10 list of players with the most receptions in their first five years, and it includes several Hall of Famers.

    Haley believes Landry deserves to be mentioned in that star-studded group.

    "He's up there with anyone,'' said Haley. "His hands are up there with any of the great ones that I've been around. He's in combative catches up there with the Larrys, the A.B.s (Steelers WR Antonio Brown). The tighter it is, usually, the greater stuff you are going to see from just great focus, great awareness, he is able to block out any potential hits that guys running at him. His focus in tremendous, and those 50-50 balls, I like our chances when they are going up to him."

    The record is nice, but Landry has more pressing issues.

    "We've got a lot of football left, and I want to win games,'' he said. "Obviously if we can get the stats up doing that as well I'm with that, but I want to win games. That's really the big thing for me.''


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    Center Larry Nance Jr. suffered a sprained ankle during Thursday's practice and will be out for the next several days. Isaiah Taylor, one of the training camp standouts, will also be sidelined for a little while with a stress fracture in his left leg.

    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Cleveland Cavaliers will head into their preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night shorthanded.

    Larry Nance Jr. suffered a sprained right ankle during Thursday's practice. He will be out for the final exhibition game and re-evaluated over a period of several days. Isaiah Taylor, one of the training camp standouts, will also be sidelined for a little while with a stress fracture in his left leg. 

    According to the Cavaliers, Nance will undergo a period of treatment and rehab over the next several days and his status will be updated when appropriate. There's no word on his availability for the regular season opener on Oct. 17 in Toronto. 

    Expected to rotate with Tristan Thompson as the team's starting center this season, Nance's setback paves the way for Ante Zizic to start Friday night against Detroit.

    Taylor, who came to camp on a non-guaranteed deal in hopes of landing the final roster spot, was experiencing pain in his lower left leg.

    He underwent an MRI at Cleveland Clinic earlier Thursday and the results revealed a stress fracture. Like Nance, Taylor will undergo a period of rest, treatment and rehab before returning to basketball activities. A timeframe for that return has not been established. 

    In three preseason games, Taylor averaged 4.6 points on 6-of-17 from the field and 0-of-1 from 3-point range to go with 2.3 assists. 


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    The Cleveland Indians fell part in their final games of 2017 and 2018. That's disturbing.

    CLEVELAND -- When it comes to sports, you not only have one chance to make a first impression...

    You also have one chance to make a last impression in any given season.

    That's why what happened to the Tribe in the playoffs is so discouraging.

    If the Indians had been swept by Houston in a bunch of 3-2 games with a few extra innings thrown in, I'd feel better about the team.

    But the Astros demolished the Tribe in the first round of the best-of-5 American League Division Series. The Indians were outscored, 21-6. They scored 2-1-3 runs over three games.

    Starters Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger along with shortstop Francisco Lindor (2 HR) are excused from this discussion.

    But just about everyone else in Wahoo red, white and blue delivered performances that were mediocre at best, and often downright miserable.

    BULLPEN DISASTER

    Maybe part of it was that Andrew Miller was never fully able to overcome his variety of injuries (shoulder, knee, hamstring). And part of it was Cody Allen never being able to find is curveball or his confidence.

    As for Trevor Bauer in the bullpen, that desperation move backfired.

    I still think of Bauer making two throwing errors in one inning.

    Or Miller delivering a pitch in Houston that went BEHIND a hitter.

    Or Allen giving up as many runs (6) as the Indians scored in all three games. And Allen pitched only one total inning.

    FALLING APART

    The Indians actually had a 2-1 lead after five innings in Game 3, and they ended up losing 11-3.

    The last few innings were sloppy, careless baseball.

    The Tribe played the same way in Game 5 of the 2017 season against New York. They were eliminated from the ALDS by a 5-2 count, making three errors in the process.

    They made three more errors in the elimination game against Houston.

    The Indians pride themselves in having good guys who "play the right way." That generally is the case.

    But the collapses at the end of the playoffs in the last two years are disturbing. By the end of both seasons, the players looked mentally defeated.

    The Indians have now lost their last six playoff games.

    The Indians can argue otherwise, but just look at the tapes of Game 5 in 2017 and Game 3 in 2018.

    They were nothing like the 2016 undermanned Tribe, who forced the Cubs into extra innings before losing Game 7 of World Series. The final score of that game was 8-7.

    CHANGES NEEDED

    The Indians are likely to lose Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Donaldson, Josh Tomlin, Miller and Allen. There are other less prominent free agents such as Melky Cabrera and Oliver Perez also headed to the market.

    Of that group, I'd love to keep Brantley. But I expect him to be enticed away by a lucrative long-term deal elsewhere.

    I can't name the last time the Indians had a significant player reach free agency, then re-sign with the Tribe.

    If they reach open market, they are gone.

    But the bullpen needs nearly a complete overhaul. Brad Hand can be the closer. Perhaps Adam Cimber can help.

    But something is very wrong with Miller and Allen.

    Relievers are so inconsistent. Bryan Shaw ($27 million, 3 years with Colorado) and Joe Smith ($15 million, 2 years with Houston) left the Tribe last year -- yet  didn't pitch well enough to make the playoff rosters for their respective teams.

    Houston was the superior team. Clevinger implied the Indians didn't do a good job with their analytic preparation for the playoffs. That came from Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

    No idea if that's true.

    I do know analytics had nothing to do with throwing strikes, catching the ball and playing sound fundamental baseball.

    The personality of the team was a bit strange all season. It's as if they spent six months awaiting the playoffs. September felt like spring training.

    Key veterans Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez, Josh Donaldson, Jason Kipnis and Yonder Alonso combined for 3-for-47 at the plate!

    The Indians had three extra-base hits: Lindor's two homers, a Yandy Diaz double.

    It was just an odd, unfocused year for a team with some flaws that were dramatically exposed in the playoffs. That should lead to a long off-season of soul searching for a talented team that underachieved.


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    Winds and drop in temperature put a dent in fishing on Lake Erie and in Northeast Ohio rivers and streams, but only temporarily.

    CLEVELAND, OHIO -- The local lakes and streams will quickly cool in the days to come, kicking off the fall fishing season on Lake Erie, in the Northeast Ohio Rivers and streams and on local inland lakes and reservoirs. Big winds and a major drop in temperatures this week will put a short-term dent in the fishing success, but the fall fishing season should be percolating in a few days. Expect Lake Erie's walleye, bass and steelhead to head shallower, and steelhead trout to move up the rivers with temperatures in the 50s forecast through October.

    CENTRAL LAKE ERIE

    The big schools of Lake Erie walleye are in 70 feet of water, or more, from Cleveland to Conneaut, and big westerly winds will make those long runs a bit difficult through the weekend. As the big waves settle, expect walleye to move closer to shore and the excellent fishing to return. Trolling diving planers and spoons has continued to produce limit catches, with crankbaits and crawler harnesses also clicking.

    As usual, yellow perch fishing has been in the tank in most central lake areas. Steelhead trout are staging for their spawning runs up the northeast Ohio rivers, with small boat anglers and pier fishermen working the harbor areas with success. Walleye are also being caught around the near-shore waters from Huron to Vermilion.

    WESTERN LAKE ERIE

    Walleye have been moving to shallow haunts around the Lake Erie islands, with a hot spot the waters on the east side of Kelleys Island. Drift-and-cast fishermen are finding walleye gathering around the drop-offs and rock piles, and often ready to chase a weight-forward spinners or mayfly rigs tipped with a nightcrawler.

    The yellow perch fishing has been a little erratic, but jumbo yellow perch are being caught around Green Island in 30 feet of water, and around G Can and H Can on the Lake Erie Firing Range off Camp Perry.

    INLAND LAKES, RESERVOIRS

    The hot spots for channel catfish and rainbow trout can be found around the Cleveland Metroparks, where stocked fish are biting at Wallace Lake in Berea and the Ohio & Erie Canal ponds in Cuyahoga Heights. The Fall Family Fishing Fest is being held on Saturday at the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., a free event for kids and adults. The area is closed to public fishing now through the beginning the Fall Fishing Fest. The derby is free, live bait is available and some fishing tackle can be borrowed.

    FALL BRAWL SET TO BEGIN

    The deadline to enter the popular Fall Brawl walleye derby is Oct. 17, with Lake Erie's largest walleye derby in action from Oct. 19 through Dec. 2. The top prizes are a $100,000 2018 Warrior 21-foot fishing boat with a 300 horsepower Evinrude. The kids are competing to win a 16-foot Hewes Craft with a 40-horsepower Honda. Check out the entry forms on Facebook at Walleye Fall Brawl. Entry is $30, $32 online. Walleye must be weighed at Erie Outfitters in Sheffield Lake. 


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    Cleveland Cavaliers' game plan to make playoffs sans LeBron James who took talents to Los Angeles

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers finish up the preseason in East Lansing against the Detroit Pistons. Then they'll begin the regular season Wednesday in Toronto against the Raptors.

    Meanwhile, coach Tyronn Lue and the Cavs are still trying to figure out how to win games without LeBron James in the lineup.  James, who took his talents to Los Angeles, averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds and 37 minutes per game last year as a Cav.

    The game plan to fill the hole left by James calls for Kevin Love to be the man in an offense that relies more on ball movement. The Cavs won't be able to consistently out score opponents so they'll have to play better defense, rebound and take care of the ball.  

    The Cavs believe they can surprise everybody and make a run at the playoffs this season. We'll see. The last time LeBron left, the Cavs went from winning 61 games with him to winning only 19 without him.

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    How the Cleveland Indians and a bold prediction went very, very wrong.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Talking to myself about the Tribe:

    QUESTION: Indians in four games, nice prediction.

    ANSWER: Guilty.

    Q: How could you pick the Indians in four? If anything, don't you think they'd need five games to beat Houston in the playoffs?

    A: Put a gun to my head and demand a prediction, I would have said Houston in four games. The Astros are the superior team. But if the Indians were going to pull an upset, they needed to win it at home -- and not go back to Houston for a fifth game. That was the thinking.

    Q: Your thinking was about as good as the Indians' bullpen.

    A: The bullpen was a problem for most of the regular season. At the postseason media gathering, Terry Francona said: "If part of your team is inconsistent during the season, it probably will rear its head in a short series."

    Q: Meaning what?

    A: The Tribe bullpen had an 11.70 ERA while being swept in three games by Houston. The Astros had an 0.93 ERA from their bullpen. In the regular season, Houston's bullpen ranked No. 1 in the American League (3.03 ERA). The Indians were No. 13 (4.60). I thought the Trevor Bauer bullpen experiment could cover that hole, but Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and the rest were so bad...you know the story.

    Q: Is that the sound of the Tribe's contention window closing?

    A: They will come back with a much different team. I don't anticipate any expensive off-season acquisitions. But I expect them to be back in the playoffs in 2019.

    Q: Are you going to buy what Chris Antonetti was saying about the core of the team being sound?

    A: The Tribe's president said: "We're in a really good spot organizationally. We're going to have two guys (Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez) in the top five or seven of the MVP voting. We're going to have four guys in the top 10 of American League Cy Young voting."

    Q: Do you believe that?

    A: I'm not going to guess on the voting. I am going to say the Indians have four big-time starting pitchers: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Bauer. Shane Beiber has a chance to be excellent.

    Q: Why dwell on the rotation?

    A: Perhaps the hardest and most expensive talent to secure is starting pitching. The Indians are loaded. Houston (3.16 ERA) ranked No. 1 in that area. The Indians' starters (3.39 ERA) were No. 2 among American League starters.

    Q: Aren't you overestimating the value of starting pitching?

    A: I'm looking at the stats for the top five rotations in the American League: Houston (3.19), Cleveland (3.39), Tampa Bay (3.68), Boston (3.77) and New York (4.05). All but Tampa Bay were among the last four teams in the American League playoffs. A strong starting staff is a postseason ticket.

    Q: You're just saying that because you like the Indians.

    A: I'm saying it because if I could pick any part of a team to be elite -- starting pitching, bullpen, hitting, defense -- I'd go with starting pitching. It can cover up a lot of mistakes in other areas.

    Q: So what happened in the playoffs?

    A: Kluber pitched poorly in the opener (four runs in 4-2/3 innings). But Clevinger and Carrasco allowed only three runs in 10-1/3 innings. In retrospect, Francona should have tried to squeeze another inning out of each of them. The lack of hitting (.144 batting average) and the terrible bullpen were the main issues.

    Q: So why are you upbeat about next season?

    A: Because of the starting pitching. The Indians could even trade one of those starters in a huge deal. Despite their relief problems this season, it's easier to put together a bullpen than a rotation.

    Q: Not that easy, didn't this season prove that?

    A. The Indians had Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, two relievers making a combined $19.5 million. Both were bullpen stars in 2016. Both floundered this season. Now the Indians build with closer Brad Hans. As Francona said: "We have our work cut out to put together a bullpen to get us where we want to go."

    Q: Didn't the Indians discuss Danny Salazar in the bullpen?

    A: The media asked about him. Salazar was out all season with arm problems. He's still not ready to pitch, although he's suppose to be making progress. I'll believe it when he not only pitches, but stays healthy for a few months. Cody Anderson is coming off Tommy John surgery and doing well. He was 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA when healthy in 2015. He could help in the bullpen in 2019.

    Q: Aren't you trying to justify your stupid "Tribe in four" prediction?

    A: I'm looking at a team with superior starting pitching in an inferior Central Division. I'm looking at a team that should win at least 90 games again and should return to the playoffs. I'm looking at the kind of team that I never saw when growing up following the Tribe.

    Q: So where are the Indians going to find all these relievers?

    A: That's the challenge for the front office. They mentioned Tyler Olson, Jon Edwards and Adam Cimber as candidates to go along with Hand. A lot of other names will come up. It's doubtful Miller or Allen will be back, and it will be interesting to see what kind of contracts they receive in free agency.

    Q: Indians in four...really?

    A: I was wrong. But I do think I'm right about how the Tribe's rotation sets them up to be a playoff contender in 2019.



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    Mount Union owns college football's longest active win streak at 20 games.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The No. 10-ranked John Carroll (4-1) and Ohio Northern (4-1) face each other Saturday in a key Ohio Athletic Conference game.

    Marietta and Mount Union sit on top of the OAC, which means neither John Carroll (4-1, 3-1 in OAC) nor Ohio Northern (4-1, 3-1) can afford another loss, with possible playoff appearance or a title crown on the line.

    A John Carroll victory would set up a huge game next week against Marietta (5-0, 4-0).

    In other D-3 action, it's homecoming for Baldwin Wallace, and it will honor the school's 1978 national championship team.  

    The Yellow Jackets will host Muskingum, a team coming off a blowout loss to John Carroll.

    Baldwin Wallace has allowed only seven points in the fourth quarter this season, including zero through the last four games.

    Mount Union, the No. 1 team in the country, plays at winless Capital. The Purple Raiders are ranked 12th in the nation in passing defense. It allows 131.2 yards per game. The Raiders are ninth with 21.0 sacks in five games.  Linebacker Trey Williams is 18th nationally with 10.0 tackles for loss. 

    Mount Union owns college football's longest active win streak at 20 games.

    In D-2 action, Notre Dame College, ranked No. 17 in the country, will host Urbana.

    Ashland will host Michigan Tech on Saturday. The Eagles have only one loss in the conference but they're in an uphill battle because two of the three undefeated leaders (Grand Valley State and Ferris State) are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the nation.

    Saturday's games

    Division II

    Division III

    • John Carroll (4-1) at Ohio Northern (4-1), 1:30 p.m., Live video
    • Kenyon (0-5) at Hiram (1-4), 1 p.m.
    • St. Vincent (1-4) at Case Western (4-1), 1 p.m., Live video
    • Mount Union (5-0) at Capital (0-5), 1:30 p.m., Live stats
    • Muskingum (2-3) at Baldwin Wallace (4-1), 1:30 p.m., Live stats

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    Saturday's noon game between Buffalo and Akron will feature several players climbing NFL 2019 draft boards including Bulls QB Tyree Jackson and Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - In recent years NFL scouts have pretty much camped at Mid-American Conference schools as the league has consistently produced quality high draft picks for the professional ranks. NFL scouts will almost assuredly be in Buffalo, noon Saturday, well represented.

    Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the overall No. 1 draft pick in the 2013 NFL lottery, and Buffalo's Khalil Mack was the No. 5 pick for the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 draft - evidence of two recent NFL drafts highlighted by players drafted high from the MAC.

    Saturday's game between Akron (2-2, 0-1) and Buffalo (5-1, 2-0) will not only be an early defining game for MAC East Division prominence, it will give NFL scouts a look at several of the top prospects in the MAC. Buffalo junior quarterback Tyree Jackson and senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson are both considered talents worthy of selection in the top three rounds for the 2019 draft, if not the first.

    Akron linebacker Ulysses Gilbert is another on the list, as is Buffalo linebacker Khalil Hodge, both as middle or late-round NFL draft picks.

    All the while, other players in that game will be looking to make their impression on scouts as future undrafted free agents who could still make an NFL roster, much like Julian Edelman (New England Patriots) and Roosevelt Nix (Pittsburgh Steelers), both former Kent State players.

    Of the current players, Jackson is the most likely to keep climbing up the charts. He is a draft-eligible junior standing 6-7, 245 pounds.

    He has already passed for 1,331 yards this season with 17 TD vs. 4 INT. Jackson and the 6-2, 210-pound Johnson have also been a solid pass-catch duo throughout the season.

    MAC GAMES THIS WEEK

    • Akron at Buffalo, noon.
    • Toledo at Eastern Michigan, noon.
    • Kent State at Miami, 2:30 p.m.
    • Western Michigan at Bowling Green, 3 p.m.
    • Ball State at Eastern Michigan, 3:30 p.m. ESPN3
    • Ohio University at Northern Illinois, 3:30 p.m.

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    Thistledown and Northfield Park raceways, six miles apart on Northfield Road, have scheduled two of their biggest live programs of the year, on the same day.

    NORTHFIELD, Ohio - The late Ernie Banks, if he was a horseplayer, would have loved to be in Greater Cleveland this weekend. Banks, nicknamed "Mr. Cub" during his Hall of Fame years as a shortstop and first baseman in Chicago, is best known for saying. "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two."

    How about playing at two tracks?

    More by accident than by design, Thistledown and Northfield Park, pari-mutuel raceways for different breeds that are only six miles apart on Northfield Road, have scheduled two of their biggest live programs of the year, on the same day, this Saturday.

    In the afternoon, starting at 1:40 p.m., Thistledown will host the "Best of Ohio," five thoroughbred stakes races worth $750,000 in purse money, while at night, starting at 6 p.m., Northfield will renew the $125,000 Courageous Lady, a one mile test for pacing fillies at one mile.

    Heading the Thistledown program is Mo Don't No, voted the 2017 Ohio Horse of the Year. He tops a field of nine in the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance, a race he has won the last two years, first in Youngstown (Mahoning Valley) and last year in Cincinnati (Belterra).

    The only other Best of Ohio champion on the card is Rivers Run Deep, a three-winner of the $150,000 Sprint. He was denied a fourth consecutive score in the rich dash when beaten a nose by Hijo de Sheltowee in last year's renewal.

    The seven-year-old Rivers Run Deep, the lone millionaire ($1.1m) among the 55 Best of Ohio entrants, is 3-1 second choice in the Sprint. Favored at 2-1 is Altissimo, who is co-bred and owned by Nancy Lavrich of Kirtland. Lavrich is also the co-breeder of Rivers Run Deep. Altissimo has beaten Rivers Run Deep in three consecutive Ohio-bred stakes races.

    Northfield's Courageous Lady is an open stakes race that, at least on paper, appears to be a battle of New York versus Ohio sired fillies.

    Wisdom Tree is the 2-1 morning off her score in the $225,000 New York Sires Stakes Final at Yonkers on Sept. 22. The daughter of Betterthancheddar has won 11 of 15 starts and $415,163 this year.

    Her main rival is the 3-1 Baron Remy who, two weeks prior to Wisdom Tree's romp in New York, was dominant in winning the Ohio Sires Stakes championship in the slop at Scioto Downs. The Yankee Cruiser offspring has won seven of 23 career starts and $402,510.

    "The Courageous Lady is shaping up as a solid race," said Dave Bianconi, Northfield's executive vice-president of racing. "It could come down to a showdown between Wisdom Tree and Baron Remy, but one of the other fillies could have a say in the outcome."

    In a sure sign of their confidence, the owners of Wisdom Tree have paid a $10,000 late fee to supplement her to the race.

    The $125,000 Courageous Lady lineup

    PP   Horse            Trainer                   Driver                    Odds

    1. Cult Icon                 Trent Stohler         Dave Palone          9-2

    2. Dragon Lady Art    Tye Loy                 Aaron Merriman     20-1

    3. Baron Remy           Ron Burke             Chris Page             3-1

    4. Bad Girls Rule        Virgil Morgan Jr.     Josh Sutton           12-1

    5. Kitty Kitty Hawk     Norm Parker          Tyler Smith            15-1

    6. Wisdom Tree          Jeff Cullipher         Matt Kakaley          2-1

    7. Strong Opinion       Ron Burke              Ronnie Wrenn Jr.   8-1

    8. Aims Whisper         William Zendt         Don Irvine Jr.        20-1


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    Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe preview Browns-Chargers. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns and Chargers play at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It's a big game for both teams, as the Browns look to move to 3-2-1, while the Chargers can set up a run in the AFC West. They are 3-2, but their two losses are to the Rams and Chiefs. 

    Mary Kay Cabot and I previewed the game in the video above. We talked about the Chargers on both sides of the football -- especially at quarterback -- and made our predictions for the game.


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    Joseph reiterated to cleveland.com on Thursday that he heard a thud the moment the ball came off his foot.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Mystery solved.

    Ravens safety Tony Jefferson confirmed publicly on Thursday that he partially blocked Browns rookie kicker Greg Joseph's 37-yard game-winnning field goal at the end of overtime.

    Fortunately for Joseph, he hit it hard enough that the kick knuckled over the crossbar, just barely, for the 12-9 victory. It was so close that Browns radio play-by-play man Jim Donovan joked that it had yellow paint on it.  

    "Just coming out of my stance, I kind of slipped," Jefferson, who stormed in off the right edge, told reporters in Baltimore on Thursday. "I think if I wouldn't have done that, I probably would've had an even better opportunity to fully block it. I just didn't get the job done."

    Special teams coach Jerry Rosburg lamented that Jefferson didn't deny the kick in the same way that Browns cornerback Denzel Ward did when he blocked Justin Tucker's 48-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

    "Their guy got four fingers on it, and our guy got three," Rosburg said. "That's the difference between winning and losing sometimes. That particular play turned out to be a huge factor in the game."

    Joseph reiterated to cleveland.com on Thursday that he heard a thud the moment the ball came off his foot. He said "there's no way I could've kicked a knuckleball like that.''

    He added, however, that he had moved past it and was on to his next kick.

    "It went through,'' he said.


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    Doug Lesmerises is joined by three guests on Takes By the Lake to wrap up the Indians' sweep by the Astros, look ahead at the minor league system and future and to examine where the Browns stand at 2-2-1 and whether some assumptions are being made.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Indians are done after a third straight playoff appearance, and the Cleveland Browns actually have some people thinking about the playoffs after a 2-2-1 start.

    So what's next for both teams -- next season and next Sunday?

    On this Takes By The Lake podcast we dipped into two teams and enlisted the help of three guests.

    First, our two voices on the Indians:

    Steven Kubitza writes about the Indians at believelandball.com and joined to discuss what happened in the sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series and how many more championship contention seasons this Indians core has left.

    * Joe Coblitz writes about the Indians and their minor-league system at burningriverbaseball.com and he joined to discuss what minor leaguers are on the horizon and the best way for the front office to use its system to try to win in the next few years.

    Then we hit the Browns with an old friend:

    * Jake Burns is all over the web as a film breakdown expert on the Browns, with his work appearing on The Orange and Brown Report, as well as on Twitter. And now Jake is working with cleveland.com, providing a film breakdown once a week right on this site.

    Make sure you check on his piece this week, and don't miss him each week at cleveland.com.

    Subscribe to Takes By The Lake in any of these ways, and thanks to everyone for listening.

    There's an Apple podcast channel for Takes By The Lake.

    You can subscribe on Google Play.

    If you have an Android device, find a way to subscribe.


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    Taylor said the injury likely occurred at some point during the summer and he played at "probably 50 or 60 percent" during training camp.

    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Isaiah Taylor suffered a setback in his quest for the Cleveland Cavaliers' final roster spot and could miss a month after a CT scan revealed a stress fracture in his left leg. 

    Taylor said the injury likely occurred at some point during summer workouts and he played at "probably 50 or 60 percent" during training camp. Because of the pain in his lower leg, Taylor received X-rays and multiple MRIs, which didn't show anything significant. Finally, the CT scan conducted on Thursday revealed the bad news. 

    There is no timetable for his return, but Taylor told cleveland.com on Friday morning that a month is most likely. 

    "He's played so well, competed every single day even though he has felt this for a while," head coach Tyronn Lue said. "To play the way he has played in feeling that is kind of crazy, unbelievable. Just feel sorry for the kid and the work he's put in. Hopefully he can get through this and get healthy."   

    In his first full season in the NBA last year, Taylor averaged 6.6 points in 17.4 minutes over 67 games. 

    He came to training camp on a non-guaranteed contract and looked to be the frontrunner for the 15th -- and final -- roster spot. 

    Everyone in the organization feels for Taylor, especially given the timing of the injury. Teammates and other members of the organization have raved about his performance in camp, singled out as one of the standouts. But a source tells cleveland.com that the Cavs are still evaluating all their options before finalizing the roster. 

    "I like him," Lue said. "So we will see what happens."   

    The Cavs play their preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons on Friday. With Taylor sidelined, Kobi Simmons, the other player who came to camp with designs on making the roster, will get a bigger opportunity. 


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    UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is threatening to leave if his teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, is fired for his involvement in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl.

    UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is threatening to leave the UFC if his teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, is fired for his involvement in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl. The Russian fighter holds the lightweight title and is quickly becoming one of the most dominating forces in the company. Some believe the UFC needs to keep him around. Others think the company should let him quit if he's going to be jumping out of cages. What do you think? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    The UFC claims it is the best fighting league in the world because it features the best fighters in the world. If it lets Nurmagomedov go, it can longer make that claim. The Russian is undefeated in 26 fights, including five straight wins with the UFC. The league needs to retain him and make him happy.

    Nurmagomedov is only asking that his teammate not be punished for the UFC 229 brawl. It's not a lot to ask and the company gets to keep arguably the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world. Dana White needs to put his ego aside and listen to Nurmagomedov.

    UFC Pound for Pound Rankings: Time to respect Nurmagomedov as best in the world

    Nurmagomedov isn't scaring anyone with this empty threat. He needs the UFC more than the UFC needs him. He doesn't have the personality to carry a fight, let alone an entire league. He is a monster fighter, but the UFC is in the business of making money as well as fights. 

    If Nurmagomedov doesn't have an opponent with some flare, that event is not going to sell. The company should let him walk if he doesn't want to be there anymore. We'll see how far that gets him.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    Willies fractured his collarbone in practice today, and is out indefinitely. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns were already thin at receiver with Rashard Higgins down, and now rookie receiver Derrick Willies is out indefinitely with a fractured collarbone suffered Friday in practice.

    He'll be further evaluated next week, but he'll likely be out for an extended period of time and could possibly land on injured reserve.

    Jackson said Willies came down on it in practice and couldn't finish the session.

    Willies, who replaced Higgins after he went down against the Ravens last week with a sprained MCL, caught the clutch 39-yard catch-and-run from Baker Mayfield in overtime that led to Greg Joseph's 37-yard game winning field goal in overtime. Based on Willies' big catch and his performance in practice, he was a candidate for more playing time with Higgins expected to be out 2-4 weeks.

    Willies needed a home as teenager and found a family

    Signed as undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech, Willies will likely be replaced on the 53-man roster by sixth-round pick Damion Ratley, who was inactive last week. Ratley has played only one offensive snap this season.

    "(Ratley's) another one of our young players, a young, talented player who contributed on special teams early but also who has shown us that he can go into games and play,'' said Jackson. "We like him. He has a bright future. He will keep working."

    The loss of Higgins will also mean more playing time at receiver for sixth-year veteran Rod Streater and for running back Duke Johnson, who told cleveland.com on Thursday that was frustrated by his lack of touches. Johnson, who led the Browns with 74 receptions last season, heads into the game with only 10 in five games.

    "We will work through it,'' said Jackson. "I'd rather keep those things in house. I think that Duke knows that. I understand everybody's frustration when they're not getting the ball, especially when they are used to getting the ball and making plays. I do respect that.

    "We're going to take care of those things behind closed doors with me and everybody else. He's a huge part of what's going to be our success on offense."

    Ratley, who's been inactive for three of five games this season, said not dressing for the Ravens game while Willies was up was a motivating factor.

    "But I can't get mad because he was performing in places that I wasn't performing or doing something like that,'' he said. "It hurts not being active. It killed me. But I've got to do what I can do to help the team win.

    "I work hard every week before every week because every week I go against Denzel (Ward) and it's making me better along with me trying to make him better.''

    Streater said losing a player on a Friday is "definitely an adjustment but that's why we're pros. Coaches tell us to learn every position, learn the whole playbook, so at any moment we can be swapped around and the more you can do, the better you can help this team. So we're all ready, we're handling it like pros and whatever happens, we'll be ready to go."


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    It should be a nice day for football in Columbus as Ohio State takes on Minnesota Saturday in Columbus.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Well, it feels as if fall has finally reached Ohio, which means football weather is on tap.

    No. 3 Ohio State vs. Minnesota - 12 p.m. - Ohio Stadium - Columbus, OH - FS1

    If you're planning on tailgating for the game Saturday, you might need a few extra layers and an extra pot of coffee or cocoa.

    According to the National Weather Service Columbus, temperatures will hover around 38 degrees at 7 a.m. before reaching about 45 degrees at kickoff at noon.

    With little chance of rain or clouds, the sun should be out as the temperatures warms to around 50 degrees during the game.


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    Key games for several Top 25 teams with eyes on College Football Playoffs and or lucrative New Years Day bowl games. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - As the college football season crosses into the second half of the season not only is conference play at a premium, but Top 25 teams have less and less time to make up for any ill-timed loss, particularly if the team is looking to make the four-team College Football Playoff, or land a spot in a lucrative New Year's Day bowl game.

    Several games of note on Saturday could bolster the post season chances for some teams with a victory, or limit them with a setback.

    No. 2 Georgia (6-0) at No. 13 LSU (5-1), 3:30 p.m., CBS - Georgia is in the national title picture as an undefeated SEC team but has a chance to bolster their profile with a triumph over No. 13 LSU. The Tigers suffered an upset loss to Florida last week to fall out of the playoff talk, for now.

    However if former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow can lead LSU past the Bulldogs this week, then No. 1 Alabama two weeks from now, that conversation could change back.

    Considering both game will be played on LSU's home turf, while the odds will be long for that pair of upsets, they should not be considered insurmountable.

    No. 7 Washington (5-1) at No. 17 Oregon (4-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2  - Considering neither team is considered to be in the four-team playoff picture, this game is quite likely to determine the upper hand for Rose Bowl rites.

    Michigan State (3-2) at No. 8 Penn State (5-1), 3:30 p.m., BTN - With Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State still to play, Michigan State could use an upset in that mix to bolster its postseason resume.

    While PSU is on the road, the Spartans get the Wolverines and the Buckeyes at home. Penn State still has some hope of making the four-team playoffs although that likely depends on an OSU stumble along the way as well as the Lions winning out.

    No. 15 Wisconsin (4-1) at No. 12 Michigan (5-1), 7:30 p.m., ABC - There is not much talk about the Michigan Wolverines being the chase for one of the playoff spots, but their lone loss was the season-opener at fast-rising Notre Dame.

    If the Wolverines can make a statement against Wisconsin, that would open some eyes, as there's a sense within the program this team is different from the recent past.

    With games against Penn State and Ohio State still to play, not to mention the rival Spartans, Michigan has a true gauntlet to navigate down the stretch. One plus is the Wolverines get the Badgers and the Nittany Lions at home. Wisconsin, with its home upset loss to BYU, is not considered in the playoff picture.

    But the Badgers could very well be in the Rose Bowl mix if they win out in the regular season.

    Week 7 College Football AP top 25 TV schedule

    FRIDAY

    No. 23 South Florida at Tulsa, 7 p.m. (Friday), ESPN

    SATURDAY

    • Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State, Noon, FS1
    • No. 14 Florida at Vanderbilt, Noon, ESPN
    • Tennessee at No. 21 Auburn, Noon, SEC Network
    • Pitt at No. 5 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC  
    • No. 2 Georgia at No. 13 LSU, 3:30 p.m., CBS
    • No. 7 Washington at No. 17 Oregon, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
    • Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State, 3:30 p.m., BTN
    • Baylor at No. 9 Texas, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
    • No. 10 UCF at Memphis, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
    • No. 22 Texas A&M at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network
    • Missouri at No. 1 Alabama, 7 p.m., ESPN
    • No. 6 West Virginia at Iowa State, 7 p.m., FS1
    • No. 16 Miami at Virginia 7 p.m., ESPN2
    • No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan, 7:30 p.m., ABC
    • USC at No. 19 Colorado, 10:30 p.m., FS1

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    A 31-year-old woman reported she was groped at Progressive Field during the Indians playoff game on Monday.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A 31-year-old woman reported that a man she didn't know groped her at Progressive Field during the final game of the Indians season.

    A 63-year-old Parma Heights man, who police noted bragged he drank a bottle and a half of chardonnay during the game, was identified as a suspect, but has not yet been charged, according to a police report released by the city on Friday.

    The incident happened about 3 p.m. Monday during the Indians 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series.

    The woman told police she was standing in line waiting to use the restrooms near section 174 behind the stands along the left field, police reports say.

    The woman said a man walked up behind her, groped her and said "Is this the men's or women's line?" according to police reports.

    The man left and the woman reported the incident to officers working secondary employment at the ballpark. Security officers obtained video and a still photo of the man and gave them to the officers scouring the park.

    An officer outside the stadium said he spotted the man, according to police reports. Officers noted that he appeared intoxicated and that he was bragging about how much alcohol he drank during the game, according to police reports. 

    Police did not arrest the man. Sex crimes detectives were tasked with investigating the incident and Progressive Field security saved the video of the incident for investigators, police reports say.

    To comment on this story, visit Friday's crime and courts comment section.


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