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WWAY's Sunday night sports - August 25; Blizzard heads to Italy for another hoops season

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We invite you to follow WWAY Sports on Twitter @WWAYSports.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- WWAY Full Court Press co-host Brett Blizzard is going to take another leave of absence from Wilmington in order to play professional basketball for Prima Veroli, a team in the Italian Basketball League( A2 Gold Division).

Blizzard took a year off from pro basketball this past winter. During that time he co-hosted WWAY's Full Court Press high school basketball show along side John Rendleman and Kevin Schneider. Blizzard said the opportunity to play basketball in Ital again was too good to pass up. That was Blizzard's second season of co-hosting the show.

Brett Blizzard currently owns and operates the Blizzard Athletics training facility.

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CHARLOTTE, NC (UNCW) -- Junior Amanda Jones scored 92 seconds into the contest to lead Charlotte to a 1-0 victory over UNCW in collegiate women's soccer action Sunday at Transamerica Field.

The 49ers improved to 2-0 on the young season with its second straight 1-0 triumph while the Seahawks slipped to 0-2. UNCW continues its six-game road swing Aug. 30 as it faces Western Carolina in a 5 p.m. contest at the ECU Soccer Tournament in Greenville. Charlotte is back in action Tuesday as it entertains Gardner-Webb in a 7 p.m. start.

"We cannot give good teams like Charlotte a one-goal start," said UNCW Head Coach Paul Cairney. "Our young team needs to snap in quickly. Give credit to Charlotte for finishing their chance."

Jones got Charlotte on the board at the 1:32 mark as she took advantage of a ball played by senior SarahAnn Waugh near midfield to create separation from the Seahawks defense before beating freshman keeper Carolyn Huddy for her second goal of the campaign.

Charlotte keeper senior Alex Kubrick recorded her second shutout of the season as she recorded four saves. Huddy got the start in goal for the Seahawks and ended the contest with four saves.

Both teams finished with 11 shots as the Seahawks held a 7-4 advantage in the first half and the 49ers posted an identical margin in the second frame. Senior Nicole Costa led the Seahawks with three shot attempts, including two tries on target.

"After the goal, I felt that next 88 minutes were an even battle with two well-matched teams," said Cairney. "We gave great work rate today, especially in the 2nd half. We will get better this week in training and bounce back to win the next game."

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TAMPA, FL (USL PRO) -- The semifinals of the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs were set on Saturday night, with the top three seeds each taking the first step toward a championship with victories against their lower-seeded opposition. The regular-season champion Richmond Kickers will host the No. 5-seed Charlotte Eagles at City Stadium in the semifinals as they look to add a second piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet, while No. 2-seed Orlando City will host the No. 3-seed and defending USL PRO champion Charleston Battery in the other semifinal.

The Kickers had to overcome a stern challenge from first-time playoff participant the Dayton Dutch Lions in their quarterfinal as a finish by Joseph Ngwenya provided the only goal in a 1-0 victory at City Stadium. Andrew Dysktra and the Kickers defense were able to withstand a strong Dutch Lions' attack, with the game remaining in the balance until the final whistle.

Orlando City had no such difficulties with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the Florida Citrus Bowl, with goals in the opening five minutes from Long Tan and Renan Boufleur giving the Lions a quick lead on their way to a 5-0 victory. Tan finished with two goals and an assist, his second goal coming three minutes into the second half before he set up Dennis Chin for a fourth in the 68th minute. Anthony Pulis capped the victory from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to play.

Defending champion Charleston was made to battle for its 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Blues, with the visitors going close to opening the scoring as Matt Fondy hit the post in the 21st minute. Goals on either side of the break by Dane Kelly and Mike Azira, both on counter-attacks, proved to be enough for the Battery, however, as a late deflected goal by Mohammed Roknipour was just a consolation for the Blues.

Charlotte recorded the only upset of the opening round as the Eagles took a 3-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders at Skyline Sports Complex, with their leading scorers from the regular-season leading the way. Both Christian Ramirez and Jorge Herrera found the back of the net for the Eagles to give their side a 2-0 lead with just less than 10 minutes to go, and while Lucky Mkosana was able to pull a goal back for the City Islanders in the 85th minute, Samuel Asante's finish late in stoppage time wrapped up the win for Charlotte.

The 2013 USL PRO Playoffs continue Friday night as Orlando City hosts the Charleston Battery at the Florida Citrus Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET. On Saturday night, the Richmond Kickers host the Charlotte Eagles at City Stadium at 7 p.m. ET for a place in the 2013 USL PRO Championship game.

Stay up to date with all of the action in the 2013 USL PRO Playoffs through the league's free online streaming service, USLNation.com, and also follow the race for the playoffs via Twitter (@USLPRO), Facebook and Google+ for live updates from every game, plus news, previews and recaps of all the action.

2013 USL PRO PLAYOFFS

Quarterfinals

Saturday, August 24

No. 1 Richmond 1, No. 8 Dayton 0

No. 2 Orlando 5, No. 7 Pittsburgh 0

No. 3 Charleston 2, No. 6 Los Angeles 1

No. 5 Charlotte 3, No. 4 Harrisburg 1

Semifinals

Friday, August 30

No. 2 Orlando vs. No. 3 Charleston, 7:30 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl

Saturday, August 31

No. 1 Richmond vs. No. 5 Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- There will be football in the region on Monday night. At 6pm Topsail and Trask will resume the game that had to halted on Friday night due to lightning. Topsail currently has a 12-0 lead in the second quarter. 6pm start in Rocky Point. West Bladen will host South Robeson on Monday at 7pm. That game has yet to start. It was postponed originally last Friday morning due to a wet field.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Hoggard High School has two football players currently in the NFL. Both will be watching from the sidelines in street clothes this year. There's a chance former Hoggard standout Jonathan Cooper will be able to come back later in the season. Cooper broke his left leg Saturday night during the second half of Arizona's preseason game. Connor Barth's season ended several weeks ago. Barth won't be able to return until 2014. We've posted a story below from the Arizona Cardinals website.

Photo courtesy: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

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GLENDALE, AZ (CARDINALS) -- When asked about the good, the bad and the ugly of training camp earlier this week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the bad would be injuries but “we haven’t been that bad.”

That changed Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Cardinals suffered a laundry list of injuries in a 24-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers, the most devastating being a broken left fibula for starting left guard and first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper. Cooper could be out for the season, although Arians said there remains hope Cooper could come back later on.

MRIs are coming for running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee), tight end Rob Housler (ankle), tight end D.C. Jefferson (knee), linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (ankle), wide receiver Andre Roberts (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Dan Williams (ankle). The seriousness of those problems vary, but it was a brutal night with which to deal.

“We can correct the way we played,” Arians said. “We can’t correct the injuries.”

Cooper’s injury will be the hardest. There was a reason Cooper was taken seventh overall, the linchpin of an offensive line overhaul. Now, for a second straight season, the Cards lose a starting offensive lineman long-term during the preseason – tackle Levi Brown went down last year – and the Cards must scramble.

Veteran Chilo Rachal has been Cooper’s backup and would be one option to step in. Starting right guard Daryn Colledge was last year’s left guard and could move back with his backup, Paul Fanaika, getting into the lineup on the right side.

“I’m not taking anything off the table yet, but right now, I’m the right guard,” Colledge said. “Chilo stepped in and played and we scored a touchdown. I would assume tomorrow he’s the left guard but I’d also assume that it’s an open competition between him and every other guard available.”

Arians said he didn’t know what direction the Cardinals would go yet.

“That’s why they preach depth,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “But we’re all hurting. It’s territory we are familiar with and we wish it didn’t happen.”

That will be the lingering problem from Saturday. The Cards (2-1) at least can immediate flush the rest, which featured what Arians called “probably the dumbest first 30 minutes of football I’ve ever seen.”

“You never see that kind of game coming the way we had been practicing,” Arians said. “It’s disheartening but we will come back. We will learn from it.”

There were missed blocks and dropped passes, poor routes and bad throws. Cornerback Jerraud Powers was flagged for three pass interference calls by himself. The special teams was anything but, allowing a blocked field goal, a blocked punt and a 44-yard punt return.

“We’d take one step forward and two steps back it felt like the whole day,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

The sequence that underscored the problems of the first half came late. Trailing 7-0, the Cardinals put together a good offensive drive, reached the red zone and should have ended with a touchdown when facing third-and-goal from the San Diego 8.

Palmer hit an open Rob Housler cutting across the end zone – except the tight end had the ball ricochet off his body for a painful incompletion. On the next play, the 26-yard field goal by new kicker Dan Carpenter was blocked with pressure up the middle.

The Chargers methodically moved down the field and had a first down at the Arizona 1. With 36 seconds left in the half, defensive end Calais Campbell hit running back Ryan Mathews to force a fumble bouncing well wide of the line of scrimmage. Safety Rashad Johnson got out to scoop it up, but when he got hemmed in, he somehow decided to lateral to linebacker Sam Acho.

Acho caught the ball, but was immediately hit by tight end Antonio Gates, forcing a second fumble. The ball popped in the air at the Arizona 3, where tight end John Phillips grabbed it and rumbled into the end zone.

“That,” Arians said, “was absolutely asinine.”

Said Johnson, “Just a dumb play. No excuse with what happened.”

There was a bright spot, with the Cardinals running for 120 yards on 18 carries. Mendenhall, before he left the game, gained 47 yards on six carries. Ryan Williams got back on the field finally and gained 10 yards on two carries, while Alfonso Smith was the choice as No. 2 running back and he responded with 44 yards on five carries.

Carson Palmer (12-for23, 122 yards) also completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd. Defensively, there were two more turnovers forced, including an interception by linebacker Jasper Brinkley. The other was Johnson’s ill-fated fumble recovery.

Arians wasn’t happy with the performance, but acknowledged he wasn’t overly concerned because the Cards had done well in camp and the preseason up until this point. His message? “Don’t do it again. Please don’t do it again.”

The injuries can’t be asked away, however, not even nicely. The loss of Cooper not only is a blow to the offensive line, but it’s an emotional blow the Cards much quickly overcome.

“That’s the price you pay in preseason sometimes,” Arians said.

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