College Prep Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Rams lose opener, 28-0; face Seahawks Sept. 18

LOS ANGELES — That wasn’t exactly the performance long-suffering Rams fans had been anticipating.

For 22 years since the Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis and for eight months since the announcement that they were moving back to Los Angeles, Rams fans waited for Sept. 12, the opening game of the 2016 season with breathless anticipation.

By the end of the third quarter, many were turning off their televisions or at least switching the channel.

The Rams laid a horrible egg, losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 28-0, in a game that wasn’t that close.

The only Ram who had a good game was punter Johnny Hekker, who averaged 43 yards on 10 punts. No one wants their punter to kick 10 times in a game.

Number one draft choice Jared Goff didn’t even suit up for the game, standing on the sideline in a sweatsuit watching Case Keenum look like the mediocre quarterback that he is.

Keenum completed 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards with two interceptions. He converted three out of 15 third downs.

Running back Todd Gurley never got going, either. He finished with 47 yards on 17 carries with a long gain of 10 yards.

Receiver Tavon Austin had four catches for 13 yards and one carry for two yards.

Defensively, the Rams weren’t much better, allowing 28 points to a team that averaged less than 15 points a game last season.

And things don’t get any easier for the Rams, who play the Seattle Seahawks at 1 p.m. Sept. 18 in their home opener in the Coliseum. The Seahawks are coached by Pete Carroll, who is no stranger to the Coliseum after coaching USC for 10 years.

It will be his first visit to the stadium since he left the Trojans after the 2009 season.

The season is by no means over for the Rams with 15 games still to play. But fans who thought this was a team that could contend for the playoffs this year are sure to be disappointed.

The pressure is now on head coach Jeff Fisher to get his team more prepared to play than they were in the opener. And if Goff isn’t ready and Keenum can’t produce, maybe Fisher needs to see what Sean Mannion can do at quarterback.

The second-year player from Oregon State was the best quarterback on the roster during preseason games.

The Rams front office also deserves some of the blame. They let too many players leave from what was a good defensive team a year ago and the corps of receivers can’t catch.

But the Rams can bounce back after a bad start. After all, USC and UCLA both did.

USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is pushed out of bounds after catching a touchdown pass Sept. 10 in the Trojans 45-7 win over Utah State. (Photo by Nick Koza)
USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is pushed out of bounds after catching a touchdown pass Sept. 10 in the Trojans 45-7 win over Utah State.
(Photo by Nick Koza)

BOUNCE BACK WEEK: Anybody out there wondering what Alabama would do to Utah State?

After getting pummeled by the Crimson Tide 52-6 Sept. 3, the Trojans spanked the Utah State Aggies, 45-7, in week two to regain some of the swagger they lost in the opener.

The Trojans and their fans will know a lot more about what kind of team they have after they play Stanford Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. in Palo Alto. Channel 7 will telecast the game.

Max Browne and Sam Darnold both threw their first career touchdown passes against Utah State, Adoreé Jackson returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown and the Trojans found a new running back.

Aca’Cedric Ware took over after Ronald Jones II bruised some ribs and gained 57 yards in 11 carries and scored a touchdown to complement Justin Davis, who led all Trojan ball carriers with 74 on 16 carries.

Browne completed 23 of 30 passes for 182 yards with an interception and Darnold was five of seven passing in a role that saw him run the offense in the red zone a couple of times. That gives the Trojans a little bit of versatility they didn’t have last year when Cody Kessler took 95 percent of the snaps.

UCLA safety Randall Goforth (3) celebrates his second interception of the game with teammates Josh Woods (19) and Kenny Young during the third quarter of the Bruins win over UNLV Sept. 10 at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins play BYU in Provo, Utah, Sept. 17. (Photo by Mario Villegas)
UCLA safety Randall Goforth (3) celebrates his second interception of the game with teammates Josh Woods (19) and Kenny Young during the third quarter of the Bruins win over UNLV Sept. 10 at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins play BYU in Provo, Utah, Sept. 17.
(Photo by Mario Villegas)

UCLA also had a bounce-back week, overcoming a third-quarter rally to defeat UNLV, 42-21 Sept. 10. Like USC, the Bruins have a tough road game this week, traveling to Provo, Utah, to face BYU at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 17. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

Quarterback Josh Rosen completed 23 of 38 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown without an interception to lead the Bruins and running back Soso Jamabo gained 90 yards in 11 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground to pace the offense.

The defense let down after lineman Eddie Vanderdoes injured his knee, but the injury was declared minor and Vanderdoes could play against BYU.

The Bruins need him defensively against a BYU team that always plays tough, especially at home.

It would be a big win for the Bruins if they can bring one home.

BACK IN NEW YORK: In the 1950, the Dodgers and the Yankees met in the World Series four out of five years from 1952 to 1956. The Dodgers returned to Yankees Stadium this week for a three-game series to find a Yankees team struggling to get into the wild care race.

The Dodgers are four games ahead of the Giants after splitting the first two games with the Yankees Sept. 12 and 13.

After a four-game weekend series in Arizona starting Sept. 15, the Dodgers host the Giants for three games beginning Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium. A sweep of the Giants would practically guarantee the Dodgers their fourth straight West Division championship.

The Dodgers are playing with a quiet confidence lately. The starting rotation is starting to get healthy, putting less of a strain in the bullpen, which has carried the team most of the season.

With four players with more than 20 home runs, the Dodgers have become a power-hitting team that still struggles against left-handed pitching. Fortunately, the Washington Nationals, their likely opponent in the first round of the playoffs, only have one solid lefty in their rotation.

It takes luck as well as skill to get to the World Series and this Dodgers team is starting to remind me of the 1988 team, which was the last Dodger team to go to the World Series. The 28-year drought could end this October.

QUICK TAKES: I was sad to read about the death of boxer Bobby Chacon last week. Chacon, who won featherweight and super featherweight championships in the 1970 and early 80s, was a mainstay at the Olympic Auditorium and the Forum, back in the days when boxing maintained a much higher profile in the sporting world.

Chacon was the headliner in the first boxing match I saw, defeating Jesus “Schoolboy” Estrada on March 1, 1975, at the Olympic to defend his featherweight title. He lost the title three months later to Ruben Olivares at the Forum.

Chacon was from San Fernando and was extremely popular among fight fans in those days. He had long suffered from dementia before he died Sept, 7 in a Hemet care facility after hitting his head in a fall. He was only 64.

Welcome back to Landon Donavan, who came out of a 21-month retirement to help the injury-depleted Los Angeles Galaxy make a playoff push. Donovan came off the bench for about nine minutes in the Galaxy’s 4-2 win over Orlando City Sept. 11. After the game, he admitted he wasn’t quite in game shape. He figures to help the Galaxy as much by tutoring some of their younger players as he will on the field.

And congratulations to Breanna Clark, a Dorsey High grad who won a gold medal in the 400-meter dash at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in the T20 classification, which is a broad classification for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Clark is autistic.

Her mother, Roslyn Clark, won a silver medal for the U.S. Olympic team in 1976 at Montreal, where she ran the 400-meter dash and also ran a leg on the 4-by-400-meter relay.