Lawrence Cager

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No. 3 Georgia holds off No. 7 Notre Dame for 23-17 win

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Before the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) took time wearing down No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) for a 23-17 victory Saturday night. Despite a handful of injuries before and during the game, Georgia managed to overcome an early special teams mistake and shut down the Irish in the second half. Georgia outscored Notre Dame 13-0 after halftime.

Georgia running back D’Andre Swift led all players with 81 rushing yards and scored Georgia’s first touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Jake Fromm gave Georgia a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass to Lawrence Cager. The touchdown lifted Georgia to a 20-10 lead at the end of an 82-yard drive after Notre Dame had gone three-and-out.

Notre Dame’s second-half drive summary was not good, to put it kindly. After halftime, Notre Dame fumbled on the third play of their first offensive series, which led to a Georgia field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to tie the game at 10-10. The Irish then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, leading to another field goal by Blankenship to give Georgia their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. Another punt after losing two yards in three plays led to the Georgia touchdown drive, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was picked off by J.R. Reed on the following possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. That was Notre Dame’s last chance to make things interesting because the Bulldogs began to work the clock. Keeping things on the ground, for the most part, Georgia killed nearly four minutes off the clock before one more field goal by Blankenship to extend the lead to 23-10.

If the atmosphere was a factor, it showed. Notre Dame was called for seven false start penalties in the game. A record crowd at Sanford Stadium of 93,246 was crammed in to watch the events unfold in person. Most of them ended up going home with a smile on their face.

Georgia did suffer some notable injuries in the game. Starting offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (didn’t play; ankle) and Solomon Kindley (left game; left leg injury) were among the injured Bulldogs, and cornerback Eric Stokes left the game after injuring his knee on the second play of the game.

This all sets Georgia up for a playoff run. With a win against a top 10 opponent under their belts and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, Georgia should be a near-lock for a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a possible 12-0 record. A road trip to Auburn late in the year could be the biggest hurdle remaining, and that could be a nice boost to a playoff profile if things fall just right for Kirby Smart and his program.

While it would be premature to suggest Notre Dame has been eliminated in the playoff discussion, it is a safe bet to say they have a much tougher path back into the playoff mix with a loss. With no conference championship game to fall back on and Michigan getting steamrolled earlier in the day to take some of the luster off their late October showdown in Ann Arbor (note: just some luster), Notre Dame is already in a likely position where they will need to take care of their own schedule the rest fo the way to go 11-1 and then hope for a little help from around the country. The good news for Notre Dame is they likely won’t fall back too far in the polls and there will be teams that take losses the next few months. But it will be tougher on the Irish now.

Georgia will get next week off before jumping into SEC play in October. The Bulldogs will play on the road against a Tennessee program that continues to struggle. The Vols were blown out on the road at Florida earlier in the day. For Georgia, all eyes may be looking ahead to November 2 when Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville. That game is expected to decide the fate of the SEC East Division, but Georgia must get past Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky first. Those three teams are a combined 4-8.

there will be no bye week for Notre Dame until mid-October, so the Irish will be back at it next week with a home game against No. 21 Virginia. The Cavaliers avoided a home upset to Old Dominion on Saturday. Notre Dame will play their next three games at home with Bowling Green and USC each visiting after Virginia before Notre Dame reaches their next bye week.

No. 17 Miami storms from 20-point deficit to top Florida State

Associated Press
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At the 11:52 mark of the third quarter, it appeared No. 17 Miami was headed for the most frustrating loss of the Mark Richt era. Florida State wasn’t putting much offense together, but the ‘Noles didn’t need much offense — they used a punt return touchdown, another long punt return, a fumble and an ill-advised fourth down attempt to build a 27-7 lead.

But Miami stopped stepping on its own feet and stomped on Florida State, as the Hurricanes stormed back for a 28-27 win.

The comeback started when Sheldrick Redwine sacked Deondre Francois and forced a fumble, handing the Hurricanes the ball at the FSU 20. N’Kosi Perry hit Lawrence Cager for a touchdown pass on a 4th-and-goal from the three to pull Miami back within 27-14; both of Miami’s first touchdowns came on fourth down passes to Cager.

After the score, Miami (5-1, 2-0 ACC) continued making trouble for Florida State inside Seminoles territory when Michael Pinckney stepped in front of a Francois pass at the FSU 22.

Miami again capitalized on a short field, as Perry needed only one play to hit Jeff Thomas for a 17-yard score and pull the ‘Canes within 27-21 at the 4:17 mark of the third quarter.

After a pair of punts, Florida State (3-3, 1-3 ACC) had a chance to push its lead back to two scores but a 45-yard double pass touchdown was called back upon review for an illegal forward pass, turning a 34-21 lead into a 2nd-and-12. The ‘Noles moved into field goal range, but Ricky Aguayo — good from 42 and 53 yards in the first half — missed a 43-yard try at the 12:42 mark of the fourth quarter.

Another Florida State mistake immediately led to more Miami points, as Perry found Thomas for a gain of 32 yards and then Brevin Jordan for a 41-yard scoring strike, his fourth of the day, giving Miami the lead with 11:52 remaining.

Florida State possessed the ball three times after falling behind 28-27, but all three possessions ended in three-and-outs.

Miami could have added to the lead after obtaining a 1st-and-goal from the 1, but Richt chose to kneel away the final minute rather than punch in another score.

Francois passed for just 129 yards on 30 attempts (15 completions), and the ‘Noles mustered just 70 rushing yards on 33 attempts. The Seminoles gained just 14 first downs and were 5-of-16 on third down, in addition to the two crucial turnovers and the killer penalty.

Perry, meanwhile, completed only 13 of his 32 passes, but those 13 completions went for 204 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The win extends Miami’s all-time lead to 33-30 and hands the Hurricanes consecutive wins over their upstate rivals for the first time since taking six straight from 2000-04.

Upset brewing? Florida State holds halftime lead over No. 17 Miami

Associated Press
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With one traditional, heated mid-October upset already in the books, could another be in the offing? At the half in Coral Gables, Florida State holds a 20-7 lead over No. 17 Miami.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Florida State took over at its own 42 and promptly marched to the end zone to take a 7-0 lead. Deondre Francois hit Tre' McKitty for a 21-yard gain on a 3rd-and-17 from midfield, then found Keith Gavin for a 17-yard scoring strike.

Miami’s equalizer came from that same 17-yard line, as the Hurricanes moved 83 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a 10-yard toss from N’Kosi Perry to Lawrence Cager on a 4th-and-2.

The Canes appeared primed to take their first lead when, on 1st-and-10 from their own 47, Perry was stripped by Brian Burns, and FSU’s DeCalon Brooks hopped on the loose pigskin.

Florida State turned that turnover into a 42-yard Ricky Aguayo field goal, then, after a 44-yard D.J. Matthews return of a 46-yard punt, the ‘Noles took control of the game with another 17-yard Francois touchdown pass, this one to Tamorrion Terry at the 1:32 mark of the second quarter.

Mark Richt curiously chose to go for a 4th-and-3 at the FSU 48 with 41 seconds left in the half, and Perry fired incomplete, turning the ball over to FSU. Perry finished the half hitting just 7-of-18 passes, so it was a curious move that backfired in an obvious way when Aguayo connected on a 53-yard field goal as time expired to give Florida State a 13-point lead.

Florida State receives to open the second half.

Miami WR Lawrence Cager injured, will miss 2016 season

Miami athletics
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It appears Miami’s receiving corps has taken another hit, this one of the, potentially, long-term variety.

Earlier this week, a report surfaced that four-star 2016 signee Sam Bruce, expected to contribute to the Hurricanes immediately in both the passing game and on special teams, could be facing at least a one-game suspension for an incident that happened while he was in high school.  Today brings word that, according to the Palm Beach Post, Lawrence Cager seriously injured his right knee during a 7-on-7 workout recently.

According to the Post, the receiver could miss the entire 2016 season.

UM has yet to address what if any injury issue the 6-5, 215-pound sophomore may be facing.

Cager played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2015, starting one of those contests.  He caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

UPDATED 4:01 p.m. ET: Miami has confirmed that Cager will miss the entire 2016 season after sustained what was described as a right-knee injury.  He suffered the unspecified injury during a workout yesterday.