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Saturday, May 19, 2018
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Wake-Up Call: Giants faithful leave Bucs fans feeling blue

The Wake-Up Call greets you each weekday with news, views and a few Tampa Bay area sports offerings to anticipate for the day and night. We encourage suggestions and contributions. Good morning! With seven minutes remaining, the chant began in the south end zone of Raymond James Stadium. Nah, nah, nah, nah ... nah, nah, nah, nah ... hey, hey, hey ... GOODBYE! .... Nah, nah, nah, nah ... nah, nah, nah, nah ... hey, hey, hey ... GOODBYE!
That chant came from the visiting fans. Red-clad followers of the winless Bucs were leaving in droves, unable to watch the close of Sunday afternoon's 24-0 beatdown at the hands of the New York Giants. Blue-clad fans of the unbeaten Giants, thousands and thousands strong, were bidding farewell. "For a minute there, I thought we were playing at home," Giants wide receiver Sinorice Moss said. Ouch! "This is really hard to swallow," said Tampa's Greg Douglas, who owned season tickets since the 1976 inaugural season before the economy forced him into single-game status this year. "This is like the old days, when the Bear fans and Packer fans would come in here and outnumber us. I never thought I'd see these days again." "I wasn't going to scream and shout, get in their face or egg them on," said Largo's Matt Algeri, wearing a Bucs jersey adorned with sew-on patches from the franchise's Super Bowl XXXVII victory. "You kind of have to sit there and suffer in silence. It's embarrassing to have this happen at our house. I'm angry at all the fans who sold their tickets to Giant fans. All these blue jerseys didn't just show up by accident." The split was about 60-40 - Bucs fans to Giants fans. But on a day when the Bucs gained just 86 yards, third-worst in franchise history, and didn't get their initial first down until less than five minutes remained in the third quarter, there was little to inspire Tampa Bay cheers. "Man, where's the support for this Tampa Bay team?" said Giants fan Dan Stasiukiewicz of Long Island, who made the trip with seven of his New York-bred buddies. "I know it's a bad start, but come on. We were out on the town last night and even then, people were saying, 'Hey, you guys are going to beat us.' We took over this stadium, and it wasn't even that hard to do." "The loudest I heard the Bucs fans was when they finally got a first down - and I think that was more of a sarcastic cheer," said Giants fan Chris North, visiting from Cary, N.C. "I kind of feel for these people." Even the Giants' players noticed the New York fan presence. "We see Giants' fans in every city we play in," Giants tight end Kevin Boss said. "But this? This was a little unusual. It was kind of overwhelming." "Throughout the game, we stayed with the silent count and stuck with what we practiced," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "I think we definitely could've gone into a regular cadence. The Giants' fans were loud. We got off to a good start, controlled the game, and kept them [Bucs' fans] pretty quiet. It worked out well." Not for Bucs' followers. The on-field performance was bad enough. The Big Blue fan-demonium was humiliating. The Bucs allowed 397 yards to the Giants, but two late kneel-downs by reserve quarterback David Carr probably prevented a 400-yard effort. So the Bucs avoided becoming the first Tampa Bay defense since 1986 to surrender three consecutive 400-yard games to opponents. The 1,297 yards allowed by the Bucs' defense is the worst three-game effort to start a season in franchise history, though. The University of South Florida's monumental 17-7 victory against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday was described as a "paradigm shift in the Sunshine State" by Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples. "USF, the pesky little brother that began play in 1997 and rammed itself into a BCS conference using players Florida, FSU and Miami didn't want, has now ascended to the same level as the Big Three," Staples wrote. "Now, when FSU comes to Tampa, Lakeland, Bradenton or Sarasota to recruit a player on USF's list, [Bulls coach Jim] Leavitt can ask that recruit a legitimate question: Why go to Tallahassee when you stand a better chance of winning in Tampa?" Then, there was this great point by Staples. "Saturday's win will help recruiting, but the Bulls won't see any tangible results until at least next year. But USF also proved Saturday it has the athletes to win the Big East. So instead of celebrating the win against FSU, the Bulls need to concentrate on beating Syracuse next week and taking the first step toward the program's next paradigm shift."

Here are some standout performances last weekend by Tampa Bay area athletes in college football: • Eastern Kentucky University defensive back Justin Bell (Chamberlain) had his first two career interceptions, including an end-zone pick, in a 23-13 victory against Murray State. • Bucknell University quarterback Marcello Trigg (Robinson) scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run in a 17-16 victory against Marist. The outcome was assured on a blocked extra-point in the final seconds. • University of Florida running back Chris Rainey (Lakeland), best known for breakaway runs from the UF backfield, blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown during a 41-7 win at Kentucky. • University of Central Florida running back Brynn Harvey (Largo) rushed 16 times for a team-high 71 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown, in a 19-14 loss against East Carolina. • University of Wyoming punter Austin McCoy (Winter Haven) had five punts for a 53.2-yard average, including a 60-yarder, in a 30-27 win against UNLV. • Colorado State University freshman punter Pete Kontodiakos (Countryside) averaged 43 yards on four punts in a 42-23 loss against Brigham Young. • Florida Atlantic University senior tight end Jason Harmon (Riverview) had a career-high 11 receptions for 132 yards in a 27-25 loss to Louisiana-Monroe. FAU receiver Chris Bonner (Gaither) had five catches for 76 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown.

University of Alabama senior Javier Arenas (Robinson) had four punt returns for 59 yards in a 35-7 win against Arkansas. His career punt-return yardage total is 1,531 yards. He needs 165 yards to become the SEC's all-time career punt-return leader (Vanderbilt's Lee Nalley had 1,695 yards from 1947-49). He needs 231 yards to become the all-time career punt-return leader in Division I-A (Texas Tech's Wes Welker had 1,761 yards from 2000-03). Minnesota Twins center fielder and leadoff batter Denard Span (Tampa Catholic), in his second game back since getting beaned, was 4-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs in Saturday night's 11-6 victory against the Kansas City Royals. "You see the ball and it seems like every pitch looks like a beachball," Span said. "When you go to swing, you feel like it's going to fall. I've never had six RBIs in a game at any level." Span, who went 2-for-5 in Sunday's 4-1 loss against the Royals, has improved his batting average to .312. "He's really maturing into a great player," Twins pitcher Scott Baker said. "He's patient. Obviously, he can hit the ball when we've got guys on base. And he plays great defense. There's not a lot he can't do." The Twins, trailing the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers by two games, head into the final week by beginning a series at Detroit tonight.

The Florida Marlins distributed T-shirts on Saturday night that campaigned for left fielder Chris Coghlan (East Lake) to become National League Rookie of the Year. Coghlan is doing little to dispute that possibility. Sunday, he went 2-for-4 in a 4-0 loss to the New York Mets, raising his batting average to .314. His first big-league game was May 8 after getting called up from Triple-A New Orleans, but he has 150 hits with the Marlins, along with 76 runs scored, nine home runs and 44 RBIs. His slugging percentage is .450. He's batting .368 (39-for-106) in September after hitting .385 (47-for-122) in August.

Here are 10 eye-catching performances from the weekend in Tampa Bay area prep football: • Hillsborough quarterback Tarean Austin passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the Terriers' 49-23 win against Alonso. Austin also rushed for two touchdowns. • Venice quarterback Trey Burton accounted for six first-half touchdowns - four passing, two rushing - in the Indians' 41-14 win against Sarasota Riverview. Burton completed five of 11 passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 47 yards and two more scores. • Tarpon Springs running back Adrian Golden rushed for 164 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns in the Spongers' 49-3 victory against River Ridge. • Armwood quarterback Josh Grady completed 13 of 16 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns in the Hawks' 49-0 win against Wharton. Grady also rushed for two touchdowns. • Lakeland wide receiver Javares McRoy had seven receptions for 102 yards and scored an overtime touchdown on a 10-yard reverse to lead the Dreadnaughts past Concord (Calif.) De La Salle 31-30 in a game televised by ESPN2. • Lakewood running back Bernard Reedy rushed for 258 yards (on just 10 carries) and scored five touchdowns in the Spartans' 51-7 rout of Dixie Hollins. • Avon Park wide receiver Alonzo Robertson had five catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Devils' 25-13 victory against Cardinal Mooney. In a two-week span, Robertson has 357 receiving yards. • Lake Wales quarterback Justin Shafer completed 18 of 21 passes for 332 yards and six touchdowns in the Highlanders' 41-0 win against Celebration. • Mitchell running back Ricky Trinidad rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the Mustangs' 57-20 victory against Anclote. • Jefferson quarterback Quentin Williams completed 19 of 28 passes for 297 yards and six touchdowns in the Dragons' 46-0 win against Osceola. Equally impressive - Dragons wide receiver Andre Davis had six receptions for 132 yards and four touchdowns. Jacksonville Providence High School swingman Stacey Poole, Jr., whose father was a star for Lon Kruger's Florida Gators in the early 1990s, has orally committed to the University of Kentucky's basketball program. Poole, 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, also was considering Florida, Indiana, South Carolina and Clemson. Happy belated birthday to former Raiders offensive tackle Henry Lawrence, the all-state performer from Manatee High School and Florida A&M University, who earned three Super Bowl rings. He is now a musical entertainer, specializing in the blues and Motown-influenced tunes. Saturday, Lawrence turned 58. Here's the answer to Friday's trivia question: When Sickles High School opened in 1997, the head football coach was Shannon O'Brien. His brother, Pat, is the current Sickles' head coach. Here's our daily sports trivia question, featuring a Tampa Bay/Florida spin. Try your luck by commenting below. Bucs coach Raheem Morris, the franchise's eighth head coach, lost 24-0 on Sunday to the New York Giants in his third regular-season game. Who was the only head coach in franchise history to never lose by a shutout while with the Bucs? Check for the answer in Tuesday's Wake-Up Call.
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