Plane burns after takeoff mishap in Texas; no one badly hurt

BROOKSHIRE, Texas (AP) — A plane taking passengers from Texas to the AL Championship Series game in Boston burst into flames after it ran off a runway during takeoff Tuesday morning, but no one was seriously hurt, authorities said.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-87 was carrying 21 people when it rolled through a fence and caught fire at the Houston Executive Airport in Brookshire, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Everyone made it off the plane safely and the only reported injury was a passenger with back pain, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said on Facebook. Duhon, who is the highest elected official in the county, told reporters that the group was headed to see Game 4 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Cheryl McCaskill, who lives in the Houston suburb of Cypress, was aboard the plane. She told the Houston Chronicle that she felt “shaky and shocked” after running from the burning jet in her Astros jersey.

“When it finally stopped, everyone went ‘get out, get out, get out.’ We jumped out on that inflatable thing and then everyone went ‘get away,’” McCaskill said.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said a team of agency investigators was expected in Texas by Tuesday night and that they would likely examine the aircraft’s flight data recorder.

The aircraft is registered to a Houston-area investment firm.

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Trabuco Hills football rallies to beat Newport Harbor with huge boost from Perez

MISSION VIEJO — In the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game, Newport Harbor set up to kick a field goal to add to its lead, but Trabuco Hills’ Nick Perez had other plans.

The senior blocked the field goal attempt, scooped up the ball and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown that gave the Mustangs the lead for good in a 23-13 nonleague victory at Trabuco Hills High.

After being behind 13-0 in the first quarter, the Mustangs scored 23 consecutive points.

Postgame interview with Drew Barrett of Trabuco Hills. 139 yards rushing and a TD as the Mustangs come away with a huge victory!@ocvarsity @THHSAthletics @ThhsStampede @THHSMustangs @THHS_Football pic.twitter.com/TLqyFjwFWE

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) September 18, 2021

“It was a team effort,” Trabuco Hills running back Drew Barrett said. “We started off slow, but we were way more conditioned than they were. We just fired off at 100 percent. Up or down, we gave it 100 percent every play and it paid off and we got that W.”

Trabuco Hills (3-1) gambled at the start of the game by going for it on fourth down at its own 17-yard line. The Mustangs were stopped, had to give the ball over to the Sailors, who cashed in the opportunity with a 6-yard touchdown run by Payton Irving.

Newport Harbor (1-3) took advantage of a fumble recovery with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Nick Kim to Kashton Henjum, but that’s all the Sailors could muster.

“Our defense made great adjustments,” Trabuco Hills coach Mark Nolan said. “They played hard and competed. They did a really nice job, especially down the stretch. We held them in a shutout after we gifted them 13 points.”

Trabuco Hills defense with a great night tonight!@ocvarsity @THHSAthletics @ThhsStampede @THHS_Football pic.twitter.com/vX4Xx7TAAp

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) September 18, 2021

Trabuco Hills got on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a 54-yard pass from Will Burns to Ben Holland.

Following a Holland field goal, Newport Harbor was on its way to adding a field goal but Perez rushed in for the block that resulted in an 88-yard return for a score.

Postgame interview with Nick Perez of Trabuco Hills as his field goal block, which he would return for an 88 yard TD sealed the victory for the Mustangs!@ocvarsity @THHSAthletics @THHS_Football @THHSMustangs @ThhsStampede pic.twitter.com/nI5mTkx2Hy

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) September 18, 2021

“I was containing my side,” Perez said. “I saw the block and the ball in the air. I picked it up and ran. I saw a clear path and I took it.”

Barrett rushed for 139 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown, and Will Burns finished 6 of 19 passing for 119 yards with a touchdown. He also had 39 yards rushing on five carries.

Will Kim completed 18 of 29 passing for 199 yards and a touchdown, while Kashton Henjum caught nine passes for 121 yards and a score.

Carson de Avila rushed for 62 yards on seven carries and Robby Crowell had a game-high eight tackles for the Sailors.

Trabuco Hills will host Segerstrom on Friday, Sept. 24. Newport Harbor will host JSerra on the same night.

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OCVarsity football wrap-up: All of Friday’s stories, scores and more from Week 4

This is the place to find all of OCVarsity’s coverage of Friday’s high school football games, plus the stories, scores and photos from Thursday’s games.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

SCORES

High school football: All of the scores from Friday’s Week 4 games

PHOTO GALLERY

High school football: Our top photos from Friday’s Week 4 games

GAME STORIES

Santa Margarita football knocks off Los Alamitos with second-half comeback

Servite football sparked by Fifita and McMillan in victory over Sierra Canyon

Edison football starts fast, beats San Clemente behind defense, special teams

Records broken as Orange football defeats Capistrano Valley in 67-47 shootout

Everything goes right for Foothill football in rout of La Mirada

El Modena football uses late TD and some trickery to beat Aliso Niguel

Mission Viejo football handles Alemany

Rancho Cucamonga’s turnovers prove costly against JSerra football

Trabuco Hills football rallies to beat Newport Harbor with huge boost from Perez

THURSDAY’S GAMES

OCVarsity football wrap-up: All of Thursday’s stories, scores and more

Focused Cypress football sprints past Katella to continue sizzling start

Huntington Beach football scores early, often in win over Marina

Pacifica football routs Buena Park with big plays from Cowens, Ross

Tustin football dominated by Ayala, sophomore QB Bryan Wilson

Defense stars for Laguna Hills football in victory over Northwood

Saddleback football continues hot start with win over Bolsa Grande

High school football: Scores from all of Thursday’s Week 4 games

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Whicker: At USC, the benefit of the doubt is now exhausted, as are its fans

  • Running back Vavae Malepeai #6 of the USC Trojans runs for a first down against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans walks off the field after the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans reacts after a turnover against Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive end Ryan Johnson #23 of the Stanford Cardinal pressures quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans looks on from the bench in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans after the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans walks off the field after the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans runs off the field as the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans drops a pass in the end zone against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans looks on against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans drops a pass in the end zone against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans looks down after the Stanford Cardinal scores in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans drops a pass in the end zone against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Tahj Washington #16 of the USC Trojans drops a pass in front of cornerback Zahran Manley #31 of the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans looks toward the video board against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans looks on from the bench in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Isaiah Sanders #0 of the Stanford Cardinal runs for touchdown against the USC Trojans in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Cornerback Chris Steele #8 of the USC Trojans reacts after being called for a interference call against the Stanford Cardinal in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Stanford Cardinal won 42-28. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans honors those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans honors those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans enters the field prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • A fan holding a US flag as the USC Trojans honors those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans looks on prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • A fan holds a sign “LA Loves NY” as the USC Trojans honors those that lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks prior to a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans runs off the field as the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal walks off the field after the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans runs off the field as the Stanford Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 42-28 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Nathaniel Peat #8 of the Stanford Cardinal runs for first down past linebacker Clyde Moore #36 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Elijah Higgins #6 of the Stanford Cardinal dives for yardage against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal reacts against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans reacts against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans scrambles against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Defensive lineman Colin Mobley #90 of the USC Trojans hands off to running back Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans runs for touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Nathaniel Peat #8 of the Stanford Cardinal reacts after a 87 yard touchdown run against the s in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Qide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans can’t reach a pass against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart #6 of the USC Trojans is called for pass interference against wide receiver John Humphreys #5 of the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Qide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans can’t reach a pass against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Nathaniel Peat #8 of the Stanford Cardinal runs for a 80 plus yard touchdown against safety Calen Bullock #27 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans sliders for the first down against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Elijah Higgins #6 of the Stanford Cardinal catches a pass for a touchdown past cornerback Joshua Jackson Jr. #23 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans is upededend against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans runs for touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Elijah Higgins #6 of the Stanford Cardinal catches a pass for a touchdown past cornerback Joshua Jackson Jr. #23 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart #6 of the USC Trojans is called for pass interference against wide receiver John Humphreys #5 of the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans drops a pass against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Keaontay Ingram #28 of the USC Trojans runs for first down against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans with the quarterback keeper for the first down against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Offensive lineman Courtland Ford #74 of the USC Trojans silhouetted walks toward the bench as they warm up prior to a NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans warms up prior to a NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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A lot of things died on the Coliseum turf Saturday night, including all extenuating circumstances.

USC football has sunk below the water table. The excuses fly out the window like a misguided pass by Kedon Slovis.

There are no unbearable injuries. There are all these gleaming new recruits and transfers. Patience, usually a virtue, descends into blindness if it tries to justify this 42-28 loss to Stanford, which was 42-13 early in the fourth quarter, conducted on the corner of Fiasco and Debacle.

All coaches’ days are numbered, to some extent, but Clay Helton’s tenure at USC seems closer than it’s ever been to the notary public’s signature book.

Some things can’t be helped, like Parker Lewis getting ejected on the opening kickoff for targeting. Lewis is, or was, the kicker himself. The only rational explanation is that Lewis was angling for an NIL endorsement deal with Target. A coach shouldn’t have to warn his players against that.

In any event, this wouldn’t be decided by field goals. But the hail of blunders that the Trojans have often survived in the past are no accident. You don’t have to be a firewater-belching Trojan alum who wonders why it isn’t still 1978 to demand a do-over, complete with the dreaded “culture change.”

Stanford, which had seven points and 233 yards against Kansas State last week, got one touchdown after two USC pass interference penalties. It was happy with a field goal at the end of another drive until Joshua Jackson lined up in the neutral zone, the third critical USC infraction of that drive, at which point Stanford coach David Shaw took the three points off the board and called for a touchdown, which Tanner McKee provided with a pass to Elijah Higgins.

Slovis wound up fielding almost as many as boos as Helton did. On third and five, he ignored one-on-one matchups on the right side and threw left, where the Cardinal had help. The pass was wayward, and Ryu Blu Kelly picked it and scored. Kelly’s dad Brian was a cornerback who did those types of things for USC, once upon a time.

Time and again Stanford’s receivers won simple battles against USC’s defensive backs, a process that was accelerated by the Trojans’ inability to bother McKee, a Corona Centennial alum who spent two years on a church mission to Brazil. Here, he burned USC with 16 for 23 passing and two touchdowns. It helped that he was not sacked or hit by USC’s socially-distant pass rushers.

“They showed a lot of faith in their young quarterback and he was exceptional,” said Helton, who said little about Slovis but otherwise was trying to lip-gloss what 56,945 had just witnessed.

Stanford enjoyed four plays that went 37 yards or more, including the simplest of sweeps by Nathaniel Peat that spanned 87 yards for a touchdown. USC’s so-what flurry at the end of the fourth quarter helped to balance the yardage, but it took Slovis 42 throws to amass 223 yards.

“This is Game 2,” Helton said pointedly. “I’m looking forward to winning some games and hearing how much we’ve improved since this game.”

The problem is that the top tier of the Pac-12 looks unusually strong. Oregon and UCLA have already toppled Ohio State and LSU, and Colorado nearly upset Texas A&M. The Trojans avoid Oregon but play the other two, along with Notre Dame,  Arizona State and BYU. But the presumed underdogs in the other games will see plenty of hope in this particular game tape.

A win would have at least provided some locker room mirth. Alex Stadthaus was the kicker who had to replace Lewis, and he converted both field goal tries.

“Parker is the type of guy who you can see going after people,” Stadthaus said. “He wants to make plays. When it happened, I said, no, it couldn’t be Parker. Then I saw that it was. So it was time to get going, make a few kicks. I told him that I’ll be you for tonight and you can be me.”

A team’s identity isn’t nearly that easy to exchange. In USC’s case it’s also hard to identify. Helton’s muscular 2017 team, the one that won the Pac-12 championship, twice bullied Stanford into submission. Then, once Sam Darnold left, the Trojans got suckered into playing pitch-and-catch, and that’s where they still are.

It does no good to have overflowing talent at tight end when you rarely use one. Jude Wolfe and Michael Trigg made one catch each for a total of 16 yards. But you also can’t change systems in a week or three or six. That’s why Saturday night felt like the end of something.

“It’s early in the season,” Clay Helton kept saying, and no one argued. It’s also late in the program.

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CDC adds 7 destinations to ‘very high’ Covid-19 travel risk list, including Puerto Rico and Switzerland

Switzerland and Puerto Rico are now among the highest-risk destinations for travelers, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s regularly updated travel advisories list.

People should avoid traveling to locations designated with the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.

Seven destinations moved up on August 30 from the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” list to Level 4:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Estonia
  • Guam
  • North Macedonia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Lucia
  • Switzerland

The CDC’s evolving list of travel notices ranges from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria. The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Switzerland has had 659 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past four weeks, according to the country’s Federal Office of Public Health. On August 29, nearly a third of Switzerland’s intensive care units were occupied by people with coronavirus. In North Macedonia, slightly less than a quarter of residents were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of August 30, while 9% were partially vaccinated. And of Saint Lucia’s population of around 185,000 people, it has fully vaccinated 15.1% and partially vaccinated 4.8%.

New ‘Level 3’ destinations

Ten other destinations moved to the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category on Monday.Bermuda, Canada, Germany and Moldova moved up from Level 2. Bahrain, Indonesia, Namibia, Oman, Rwanda and Zimbabwe moved down from Level 4.

CDC guidance for Level 3 destinations urges unvaccinated travelers to avoid nonessential travel to those locations.In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.

You can view the CDC risk level of any destination on the agency’s travel recommendations page.

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Modern California should stop operating by outdated rules

The big narratives around the recall campaign are wrong—because the things we think we know about California governance are wrong.

The Republicans seeking to remove Gavin Newsom from office say the Democrats control, and have ruined, California. Democrats reply that Republicans are determined to seize control of California, so they can transform it into a Trumpian nightmare. #KeepCaliforniaBlue is their war cry.

But these pro- and anti-recall messages fundamentally mislead, because they ignore our peculiar reality: California governance is a thoroughly bipartisan affair…with one important caveat. Our state today is governed both by living Democrats and dead Republicans.

Those living Democrats occupy top state offices, elected and appointed. But they don’t govern with a free hand. They labor under a complicated and dysfunctional governing system constructed over a century of Republican rule.

Almost every significant feature of our state—from regulatory agencies to our budget and tax formulas —were created by Republican officials and voters who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

From nearly the beginning, this state has been a Republican project. John C. Fremont was a key figure in the launch of both California and the GOP. The Republican Leland Stanford linked California to the country by railroad and established the private university that educates an outsized portion of our elites.

Our complicated system of powerful and independent commissions and agencies was produced by progressive Republicans in the early 20th century, and expanded upon by Republicans from Earl Warren to George Deukmejian. As governor, Ronald Reagan, with a boost from President Richard Nixon, established our regime of environmental regulation. Reagan, with his presidential amnesty, also set the template for today’s more welcoming California immigration regime.

But those are just the things that dead Republicans might brag about, if they were around to brag. There’s bad stuff, too. The housing policies that drive homelessness, the systems that can’t pay unemployment, our faltering and incendiary electricity system, and the Prop 13 tax system that distorts democracy and public investment in today’s California are all poorly constructed Republican inventions. They’re also currently being poorly managed by Democrats. But, to be fair to the living, it’s not easy to run a system when you need to hold a séance to communicate with its creators.

The recall is itself a product of this bipartisan collaboration across the River Styx. The recall is a tool of our system of direct democracy, first advanced by the Republican governor Hiram Johnson in 1911, and used aggressively ever since by the GOP. And Newsom’s use of California’s nearly dictatorial gubernatorial authority in emergencies—which has fueled the recall backlash—is the result of efforts by generations of Republican governors, most recently Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to enhance the power of the office.

The resulting ironies run deep, all the way to the molten core of the recall. The Republican candidates are calling California a failure, even though the state is mostly of their own making.   And Democrats are defending a California governing system as their progressive model, even if it isn’t theirs, or particularly progressive. that they don’t really control.

If you internalize these ironies, you’ll understand that it may not matter much whether the recall succeeds or not. And that’s not just because any Republican who takes the governor’s office this fall is all but certain to be replaced by a Democrat in the fall 2022 elections.

(The recall’s one great potential impact would come in Washington, D.C. If 88-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein—whose outdated political positions often seem to occupy the netherworld between living and dead—should die during a short Republican governorship, her replacement would flip the 50-50 U.S. Senate to the GOP.)

The recall is a paradox: a contest to rule a state that no one person or party can rule.

Whatever the result, living Democrats will still dominate public office in California—they hold three-quarters supermajorities in both houses of the legislature, as well as every other significant arm of state power. And the dysfunctional governing system, willed to us by dead Republicans, will remain firmly in place.

What really needs to be recalled is not one politician, but that system. Perhaps this recall will inspire Democrats, finally, to stop accepting governance by ghosts and to join with independents and some Republicans in creating what California desperately needs: a new, modern state constitution that gives democratic power to us, the living.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.

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The war in Afghanistan will forever stain the U.S.

Nearly 20 years to the day that foreign terrorists took down the twin towers in New York City — when thousands of lives were lost and trillions of dollars were spent — the Afghanistan War has ended in utter and complete misery.

Now, the White House is trying to spin this epic collapse as business as usual. This is an incredible defeat and a national disgrace. So much money, so many dead and thousands more in the Veterans Affairs hospital system, and the Afghan President that the U.S. picked hands over Kabul to the Taliban in front of us? How is this possible?

What we are witnessing is the product of failed policy, poor leadership and corruption in our system. When arrogance is coupled with ignorance, you have the formula in place for calamity. We have pushed these failed policies and fostered corruption on the American and Afghan sides for 20 years by deliberate actions. In effect, we set the conditions for failure in 2003. We stayed with a failed policy trajectory for the past 18 years, trying to create Philadelphia on the Hindu Kush. We failed for 20 years to understand the Afghan culture, and tried to remake it into something else.

The exit chaos we see today certainly could have been prevented, had we designed and managed a change in policy and set the conditions for an orderly departure. In the end, the same results would have been produced. We set ourselves and Afghanistan up for this over the last 20 years. A full circle of deeply disturbing events that the modest observer could deduce many years ago.

The bottom line is that, on our current trajectory, we could have stayed for 10 or 20 more years and not have succeeded. We made this mess. There are many factors to explain why we have failed for 20 years, and there is no soft landing for doing this wrong for so long. However, the mistakes over the past six months brought this into focus this weekend. An orderly turnover and exit was possible; more so, it was recommended. However, these immediate events spearheaded by President Joe Biden have brought together our profound lack of good intelligence, objective analysis, planning and leadership to produce this spectacle. Just four days ago, the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department were all saying that there is no imminent threat in Afghanistan and it was stable. The entire 20 years of feckless effort collapsed in mere days.

One only had to look honestly at the facts on the ground to see the collapse coming fast. Postponing the departure would have delayed this but would not have changed the ultimate outcome. The truth is that we lost this war back in 2003 when we became an occupying army in a country we did not want to be in. Together, we are witnessing the product of our cultural ignorance, and our inability to wage war and understand our limitations. With all three of these key factors in shambles, it only made sense that this catastrophe would occur.

We proved in Vietnam we don’t understand other cultures. We have still not learned anything. We just repeated April 1975 in Saigon. Not every country is the United States. We are talking about civilizations and cultures that predate democracy and liberal values. What is the point of forcing your identity on people who do not want it? This misguided mentality has only served to fuel and enrich the military industrial complex that has plagued this country for decades. Nation-building and spreading democracy is a fallacy that the American people can no longer support in any capacity. We need to focus on our country’s deep internal problems, of which there are many.

There is never a graceful or orderly way to lose a war. There is no soft landing. Your mistakes, arrogance and ignorance combine, and you crash headfirst into reality. Now is the time to introspect and learn from this incredible disaster. We must learn how to be better in the future. Why did this fail? What decisions could have been different? How can we prevent corrupt bureaucracies and incompetent military leaders? Can we hold to account those who waste taxpayer money with no clear vision?

The people of America should demand change, accounting and responsibility. Our leaders in Congress should take a stand against any attempts at stopping introspection and take a deep dive into our current system. Our military, intelligence community and State Department don’t know what they are doing. Worse, they failed the American people in the most extravagant of ways. Over 20 years, four presidents, trillions of dollars blown away and over 7,000 American troops dead. Then the entire system collapses, and the Taliban retake their nation and are stronger than they were the day before 9/11? What a true stain on the country.

Armstrong Williams is a syndicated columnist.

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Olympics: Simone Biles wins bronze medal in return

TOKYO >> They stood on the edge of the competition area at the Ariake Gymnastics Center early Tuesday evening, Simone Biles and her coach Cecile Landi, awaiting the scores of the previous gymnast in the Olympic Games balance beam competition to be posted.

Landi put her right around Biles and tried to lighten the moment.

And then Biles was alone, turning to face the beam and a moment the world had waited a week for.

Biles took a deep breath.

She wasn’t alone.

Biles, seven days after she stunned these Olympics by withdrawing in the middle of the team finals, returned to the Games she has been the face of earning a bronze medal on the beam with a solid, if safe, routine.

It was the Hollywood ending her millions of fans –or NBC–might have wanted, but if nothing else Biles has reminded us this past week that life is complicated.

China’s Guan Chenchen, competing last, won the gold medal with a 14.633 score followed by teammate Tang Xijing (14.233) and Biles (14.00).

It was Biles sixth Olympic medal but her presence in Tokyo will be best remembered for her withdrawal from the team final, individual all around, and earlier apparatus finals forcing her country and her sport to have real discussions, often heated, about mental health, especially in regards to young athletes.

“It’s great that she is speaking out about these issues,” said Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault. “It can be tough as an athlete and it’s good that the issues are being raised now.”

And elevating that discussion as she has her sport will be as much of legacy as her four Olympic and 19 World Championship titles.

“I think just recognizing that it’s so hard and the mental aspect is such a big thing and having the confidence to draw the line and say you know I need to step back here and take some time for myself to center myself,” U.S. beach volleyball player April Ross said. “I think that’s really empowering and that’s something that youths should feel like they can do too, so I think what she did will really impact the future generation.”

Biles withdrawal came with the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal still looming over the sport and the Olympic movement.

Biles is a Nassar survivor and has been the highest profile and one of the most vocal critics of USA Gymnastics and its prioritize athlete safety over medals and corporate sponsorships and to fix the culture of abuse within the sport that enabled Nassar, the former Olympic and national team doctor to sexually abuse more than 500 women under the guise of medical treatment.

Biles was not only the ultimate champion in the #MeToo era, with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps retiring after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro she was the face of the Olympic Games.

“I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV, NBC or commercials about the Olympics it was Simone Biles,” golfer Rory McIlroy said. “I mean it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right. To have the weight of what 300 whatever million (people in the USA). So, the weight on her shoulders is massive.”

In the days and weeks leading up to Tokyo that weight became overwhelming, Biles said.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,’” Biles said on the night of her withdrawal from the team competition, referring to the Olympic practice gym. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

The stress contributed to Biles developing spatial awareness issues when she was airborne, what gymnasts refer to as the “twisties.”

“If you struggle with disorientation in the air,” Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari said “it can be very scary. I feel very sorry for her that she struggles with it, as she is such a great gymnast.”

Biles had planned to do a Yurcenko 2½ vault on the opening rotation of team competition final. But only managed 1½ rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she was the reigning the Olympic champion and a two-time World Championships gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Returning the sideline, Biles informed her coaches and teammates she was withdrawing.

People need to understand that athletes are no robots, but humans,” said Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, who succeeded Biles as Olympic vault champion. “The decision she made was the wisest thing to do and it had nothing to do with others.”

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Ricardo Pepi notches hat trick, FC Dallas blanks Galaxy 4-0

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Led by Ricardo Pepi’s three-goal performance, Dallas secured a 4-0 victory over the LA Galaxy on Saturday.

Pepi notched the first goal for Dallas (3-7-5) in the 27th minute, assisted by Andres Ricaurte. Pepi put Dallas ahead 2-0 in the 44th minute.

Pepi gave Dallas a 3-0 advantage in the 50th minute, assisted by Szabolcs Schon. Jader Obrian sealed the victory for Dallas in the 88th minute, assisted by Justin Che.

The Galaxy (8-6-1) outshot Dallas 12-7, with four shots on goal to five for Dallas.

Jimmy Maurer saved all four shots he faced for Dallas. Jonathan Bond saved one of the five shots he faced for the Galaxy.

Dallas’ next match is Saturday on the road against Sporting Kansas City. The Galaxy host the Portland Timbers on Friday.

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Shaq Moore scores 20 seconds in, US beats Canada 1-0 in Gold Cup

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Shaq Moore scored 20 seconds in and the United States beat Canada 1-0 Sunday to win Group B at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Moore’s goal was the fastest since U.S. records began in 1990. Clint Dempsey scored 30 seconds in against Ghana in the Americans’ 2014 World Cup opener.

Both nations already were assured of advancing. The U.S. finished atop its first-round group with a 3-0 record and will play its quarterfinal on July 25 at Arlington, Texas, against Costa Rica or Jamaica, both 2-0 going into their match Tuesday at Orlando, Florida. Canada finished the first round 2-1 and also will play Costa Rica or Jamaica.

The U.S. ended Canada’s team record eight-game winning streak. The U.S. is unbeaten against Canada in 20 home matches since 1957 and extended its winning streak against CONCACAF opponents to 13.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter is using a mostly junior varsity roster for the Gold Cup. Top players such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Zack Steffen will be on hand in when the U.S. hosts Canada in a World Cup qualifier on Sept. 5 at Nashville, Tennessee.

While Berhalter started two forwards in Daryl Dike and Gyasi Zardes, Canada dominated possession and had more scoring chances. Still, the U.S. improved to 38 wins, one loss and four draws in the Gold Cup group stage.

The U.S. scored when Kellyn Acosta passed wide to Sebastian Lletget, who one-timed a pass to the far post. The 24-year-old Moore got behind Tajon Buchanon and redirected the ball in from just inside the 6-yard box for his first international goal.

Walker Zimmerman captained the U.S. for the second straight game but hurt his right hamstring early and was replaced by Donovan Pines in the 15th minute.

After fielding a starting lineup against Martinique that averaged 23 years, 84 days, the Americans’ youngest in a competitive match since at least 1989, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter changed four starters by inserting Sam Vines, Lletget, Acosta and Zardes.

Ayo Akinola started for Canada after making his debut against Haiti on Thursday, but he got hurt and was replaced by Jonathan Osorio in the 24th minute. The 21-year-old Akinola scored for the U.S. against El Salvador in his debut in December, then changed affiliation.

Matt Turner made saves against Cyle Larin in the 48th and Buchanon, his New England Revolution teammate, in the 48th. Reggie Cannon, recovered from a hamstring injury, made his first appearance of the tournament when he replaced Moore at right back in the 58th.

In Group A, Mexico beat El Salvador 1-0 at Dallas on Luis Rodríguez’s 26th-minute goal to win Group A with two wins and a draw.

Mexico will play its quarterfinal on July 24 in Glendale, Arizona, against the second-place team from Group D: Honduras, Panama or invited guest Qatar. El Salvador will play the Group D winner.

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