College Football

Branch, Hoyer, Koppen among those cut by Patriots

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Branch, Hoyer, Koppen among those cut by Patriots

FOXBORO -- Meetings at Gillette Stadium began at noon on Friday and the roster started getting shaved down to 53 men shortly thereafter.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer was cut, as confirmed by Tom Curran.
The Boston Globe reports C Dan Koppen, WR Deion Branch, and S James Ihedigbo were also released.

The loss of Koppen isn't surprising considering his struggles this training camp and the three-year, 9.7 million contract Dan Connolly signed in March. But the move does signal an end of an era. The 32-year old center was in New England for the nine seasons since he being drafted out of Boston College.
Hoyer has been Tom Brady's backup since 2009. In 13 games over that span, he went 27-for-43 for 286 yards and one touchdown.
Branch could be back. The receiver has spent six of his 10 NFL seasons in New England and has a valuable on-field connection with Brady. Last season, at 32, Branch started all 15 of the games he played. He had 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns.
Ihedigbo's production in 2011 was limited a shoulder injury. But the 6-1, 214-pound safety did manage a career-high 46 tackles and one pass defensed for the Patriots.
Multiple reports have noted the axing of DB Derrick Martin and DEOLB Aaron Lavarias.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No. 2 Clemson pulls away in 4th quarter to beat Boston College, 34-7

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No. 2 Clemson pulls away in 4th quarter to beat Boston College, 34-7

CLEMSON, S.C. - Adam Choice had a 6-yard tiebreaking touchdown in the fourth quarter and Travis Etienne had two scoring runs in the final six minutes as No. 2 Clemson wore down Boston College in a 34-7 victory Saturday.

The Tigers, who came in off top-15 wins over Auburn and Louisville the last two weeks, were five-touchdown favorites over the Eagles (1-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). But Boston College quieted the large Death Valley crowd on AJ Dillon's 1-yard TD late in the third quarter to tie the game at 7-all.

Clemson finally got going in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kelly Bryant led the Tigers on a 76-yard drive, capped by Choice's go-ahead score. The next series, they were at it once more on a 90-yard series and the speedy freshman Etienne burst through the weary Eagles to finally give the Tigers some breathing room. Bryant added a 4-yard TD before Etienne closed the scoring with a 10-yard run.

Clemson (4-0, 2-0) won its seventh straight over the Eagles and opened 4-0 for a third consecutive season.

Bryant ended with 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. It was the second straight game Etienne, a Louisiana recruited wooed heavily by LSU, broke off a long touchdown run after his 81-yard score against Louisville last week.

Boston College's defense and punter Mike Knoll kept it in the game longer than most figured. Clemson had only 38 yards in the third quarter and Knoll had pinned the Tigers inside the 10 five times.

The effort clearly wore down the Eagles, who were outgained in the final period 213-37.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Pass rush helps sluggish Tennessee outlast UMass, 17-13

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Pass rush helps sluggish Tennessee outlast UMass, 17-13

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Butch Jones often follows closer-than-expected victories by saying that he never will apologize for a win.

This time, he had a different postgame approach.

"At the end of the day, it's all about getting the victory, but (that was) just flat-out unacceptable," Jones said Saturday after Tennessee staggered to a 17-13 victory over 27 1/2-point underdog Massachusetts. "The performance is unacceptable. We'll get back to work tonight and correct it and correct our deficiencies."

Tennessee (3-1) was trying to bounce back from a 26-20 loss at No. 20 Florida in which the Vols allowed a tiebreaking 63-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Jones' staff was roasted all week for everything from Tennessee's red-zone play calling to its defensive strategy on the game's final play.

The Vols' performance against UMass (0-5) won't quiet that criticism. Tennessee struggled to put away a winless team that played the entire game without star tight end Adam Breneman and most of the second half without starting quarterback Andrew Ford due to injuries.

"There's no excuse to come out here and play the way we did," Tennessee offensive tackle Brett Kendrick said.

Tennessee was held scoreless for the game's first 25 minutes and final 22 minutes. The sluggish performance amid summer-like conditions resulted in a sterile Neyland Stadium atmosphere. Although the announced attendance was 95,324, there appeared to be approximately 30,000 or so fewer fans than that in the fourth quarter as UMass attempted to rally.

The Vols survived thanks to a pass rush that recorded seven sacks, their highest single-game total since 2008. Tennessee's John Kelly rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Johnson added seven catches for 123 yards for career highs in both categories.

"We played better than them," UMass linebacker Bryton Barr said. "They're a heck of a team, obviously, but just eliminate a couple of mistakes and we're winning that game."

Tennessee overcame two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including one on Jones that gave UMass first-and-goal on its lone touchdown drive.

"I'll take full responsibility," Jones said of the penalty. "That's on me. I also think it was a byproduct of huddling our sideline and talking to our team. The official thinks I'm talking to him and then did talk to him and, you know, that's on me. (I was) trying to give our team a spark as well."

UMass threatened to take the lead with less than 10 minutes left when Andy Isabella's 42-yard run put the Minutemen at the Tennessee 38. But the Minutemen went backward from there - thanks in part to a Jonathan Kongbo sack - and punted on fourth-and-16 at the 44.

The Minutemen's next drive stalled after UMass got as far as Tennessee's 45. Tennessee clinched the victory when UMass lost the ball on downs at its own 17 with 22 seconds left.

"I'm proud of the way they played," UMass coach Mark Whipple said. "We wanted to get it to a one-possession game in the fourth quarter, and we did. We just couldn't make the play that we needed to, to get us over the top."

Both teams used backup quarterbacks for part of the second half. UMass' Ross Comis took over for the injured Ford late in the third quarter. Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano replaced Quinten Dormady late in the third quarter, but Dormady returned after the Vols failed to move the ball on Guarantano's three series.

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