FOOTBALL

Black Bears, Ga. Southern to renew rivalry in 2019

The University of Maine will play Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Georgia Southern in 2019, the Black Bears announced Thursday. The game will be held in Statesboro, Georgia, on a date yet to be specified.

Georgia Southern, which competes in the Sun Belt Conference, completed its third year at the FBS level in 2016. Maine competes with smaller Division I football programs in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Maine and Georgia Southern have met three times before, all in the NCAA playoffs. The Eagles won all three, most recently a 35-23 quarterfinal victory in 2011.

HIGH SCHOOLS: The National Federation of State High School Associations has again stiffened rules in the name of safety.

New regulations are eliminating the blindside block and onside kicks.

A hit on any player who is not carrying the ball and “does not see the blocker approaching” is now punished with a 15-yard penalty.

NFHS also banned “pop-up” kicks, or kicks in which, “the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee,” the rule states.

BASKETBALL

D-LEAGUE: The Atlanta Hawks signed Red Claws forward Ryan Kelly to a contract for the rest of the NBA season.

Kelly was with the Hawks earlier this season but was waived on Jan. 6.

In seven games with Maine, Kelly averaged 27 points and 7.3 rebounds.

AUTO RACING

NASCAR: Chase Elliott won the first Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway while defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin won the second of the 150-mile qualifying races for Sunday’s season opener.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The Alaska Aces of the ECHL will shut down after this season.

Terry Parks, the managing partner, said the Anchorage-based minor league team is losing money, sponsorships are down $600,000, and attendance is down 1,500 spectators per game.

SOCCER

PREMIER LEAGUE: Leicester fired Claudio Ranieri, nine months after the Italian coach guided the club to an improbable league triumph.

GOLF

PGA: Cody Gribble and Wesley Bryan returned to a familiar course at Palm Beach Gardens, each shooting a 6-under 64 to share the Honda Classic first-round lead.

EUROPEAN TOUR: American Paul Peterson birdied four of his last five holes to shoot a bogey-free 9-under 62 before play was suspended because of a waterlogged course in the first round of the Joburg Open in Johannesburg.

LPGA: Ariya Jutanugarn and Amy Yang both shot 6-under 66 in the first round to take a share of the lead at the LPGA Thailand at Pattaya.

TENNIS

DELRAY BEACH OPEN: Defending champ Sam Querrey reached the quarterfinals by hitting 13 aces and winning 24 of 25 first-serve points in a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Jared Donaldson.

OPEN 13: Top-seeded Gael Monfils and No. 2 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals in Marseille, France.

RIO OPEN: Fourth-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta reached the quarterfinals of the clay-court event, defeating Victor Estrella Burgos, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

– Staff and news service report

UPDATE: This file was corrected on Feb. 24 at 8:45 a.m. to show the correct name of the ECHL.