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Witten makes a splash after returning from broadcast booth

Jeff Birchfield • Sep 12, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Jason Witten showed no signs of rust Sunday in his return to the Dallas Cowboys after serving the previous season as an analyst for “Monday Night Football.”

In his first game back from retirement, the former Elizabethton High School and University of Tennessee star had three catches in the Cowboys’ 35-17 win over the New York Giants. It included a 5-yard touchdown catch in the first half after he faked out Giants safety Michael Thomas by selling it as a run play.

Wide-open, the 37-year-old tight end caught the pass from Cowboys quarterback and easily trotted into the end zone for a 69th career touchdown. He was questioned in the post-game interview why he didn’t celebrate more than raising his fist in the air.

“Act like you’ve been there before,” Witten responded. “I gave it (the ball) back to the official, but there was a lot of excitement for sure. When I retired, I said there is a sense of pride playing for the Dallas Cowboys for one year, let alone 16 years.

“I have so much joy and appreciation and I challenge myself to play well. Getting that touchdown in that moment, that was icing on the cake.”

It was one of three catches for 15 yards for Witten, who was targeted four times. Witten added to his franchise records, now with 1,155 career receptions and 12,463 yards.

“When you come back you want to have some role to help the team,” Witten said. “For me to go out there and be a part of it, there’s so much joy. It’s one thing to go out there and play, another thing when your team plays well. It was a special moment.”

KILGORE STARTS FOR DOLPHINS

Former Dobyns-Bennett and Appalachian State lineman Daniel Kilgore started at center for the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

A fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the 31-year-old played seven seasons with the 49ers before being traded to Miami in March 2018. Kilgore started the first four games for the Dolphins last season before suffering torn triceps in a week-4 loss to the Patriots.

While glad to be back healthy, Kilgore, a team captain, wasn’t happy with the Dolphins’ effort. The team suffered a 59-10 loss, the worst in franchise history.

The Dolphins ended with 200 yards of offense, but gained only 21 yards and one first down on 12 rushing plays.

NORRIS RUN SUPPORT

Daniel Norris suffered another tough-luck loss Sunday as the Detroit Tigers fell 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics.

The former Science Hill standout pitched the first three innings, giving up one hit and one run. Despite throwing 25 of 38 pitches for strikes, he fell to 3-12 after being tagged with the loss.

Norris, a 6-foot-2 left hander, ranks second on the team with 135 1/3 innings pitched and has 116 strikeouts with a 4.72 earned-run average.

For Norris and the rest of the Tigers’ staff, a major problem has been the lack of run support.

Heading into Tuesday’s game with the Yankees, the Tigers ranked last in the Major Leagues in runs scored (517), RBIs (491) and on-base percentage (.293).

That’s over 300 runs less than the Twins and Yankees have scored this season. In addition, the Tigers lead the league in strikeouts and rank 29th out of the 30 teams in batting average.

CRAIG FINISHES WITH INDY

The Pittsburgh Pirates decided not to promote former Science Hill standout Will Craig to the Major League team this season. Craig played the 2019 season with the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians and earlier this year participated in the MLB Futures Game.

The Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Wake Forest, Craig hit .249 with 23 home runs, 23 doubles and 78 RBIs. Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington explained the decision not to call up the 6-foot-3, 235-pound first baseman.

“We need Will to continue to get bigger, stronger, continue to balance out the good hitter with power, not either or on any given pitch,” Huntington said to the Greensburg (Pa.) Tribune-Review. “And continued improvement defensively.”

CARTER AND HAYES

Another pair of former Science Hill standouts, Will Carter and Reed Hayes, also continued their professional baseball dreams.

As a member of the Yankees organization, Carter spent part of the season with Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 1-1 with the RailRiders.

The 6-foot-3 right hander was assigned to the Class AA Trenton Thunder before the Eastern League playoffs on Aug. 31. The Thunder are playing the Bowie Baysox, an Orioles affiliate, in the Eastern League championship series.

Carter is 2-3 on the season with a 5.45 ERA. He has 43 strikeouts over 67 2/3 innings pitched.

Hayes, another 6-foot-3 right hander, finished the season with the Class A (Advanced) Fredrick Keys. He made stops earlier this season with the Aberdeen IronBirds and Delmarva Shorebirds, posting a 3-3 overall record.

He threw 37 strikeouts in 22 game appearances with a 3.22 ERA. Opposing batters hit only .125 in his 11 appearances with Delmarva.

ON THE SIDELINES

Former Dobyns-Bennett star Coty Sensabaugh, who played defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, is currently an unsigned free agent.

Sensabaugh, a seven-year veteran who has also played for the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, worked out with the Buffalo Bills last month.

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