So, for the sake of argument, let us join Sunny and go into the Badlands, this post-apocalyptic world with vast meadows of roses. Early on, after effortlessly wiping out about a dozen dudes without breaking a sweat, Sunny rescues M.K. (Aramis Knight), a teenager he finds trapped in a chest. It turns out that M.K. can unlock a mysterious power of ass-kicking whenever he bleeds, making you ponder the consequences if he ever accidentally nicks himself. And so, on top of motorcycle-riding assassins armed with Japanese Samurai swords, we also have magical teenagers.The Badlands are also occupied by the sickly Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas, The Lord of the Rings), his eighth wife-to-be (Sarah Bolger), his jealous wife (Orla Brady), Sunny’s pregnant lover (Madelein Mantock), and primitive boys training to become cold, heartless Clippers–and follow in Sunny’s footsteps. Figuring out their names was less concerning than trying to understand why all this cliché drama littered the background of a show loosely based on “Journey to the West,” a 16th century Chinese novel.It all was so odd yet so familiar…Apparently, there was something about Sunny’s martial arts skills that piqued the interest of the Baron–who decided to put it to “good” use–and will supposedly keep us enthralled in the journey ahead.But after Sunny brings M.K. back with him inside the high-walled doors of The Fort, where Baron Quinn runs his adolescent training camp, the drama within turns silly and mundane, and the more obvious it becomes that Into the Badlands is nothing more than an excuse to watch Daniel Wu flex his well-oiled muscles.And then it hit me. After tons of dull dialogue, the closing shots flashed on-screen with the song, “Lead Me Home,” by Jamie N Commons. The tune turned a knob in my brain, opened a door, and flooded out memories dating back to February 2013.“Lead Me Home” also concluded an episode of The Walking Dead (“Clear”, season three), when the protagonist Rick Grimes parted ways with an unhinged underling, Morgan Jones, for the second time in the series.This is another post-apocalyptic world. Humans coping with everyday drama are simply trying to live their lives in an environment that won’t let them. It’s the same formula with a new skin. Even AMC’s promotional commercials of Sunny’s martial arts abilities had shot-by-shot similarities to Walking Dead’s Michonne, Daryl and Morgan’s katana slicing, kicking, and stick wielding against the oncoming zombies. The cable network labeled its Sunday double-bill, “Twice The Fight.”Was AMC trying to make another Walking Dead out of Into the Badlands? Sure, there were no zombies lumbering through the Badlands’ rose meadows, and the characters were a lot more settled in, but paralleling the two shows explained all the out-of-place drama.Each commercial break started with these words, “Coming up on Into the Badlands,” leaving viewers hanging with a suspenseful action scene, as though AMC knew the risk that many (myself included) might change the channel if their curiosity weren’t aroused. Almost 20 million viewers tuned in for The Walking Dead’s season six premiere in October, so it’s no surprise that AMC hopes to draw those numbers with the five remaining episodes of its new series before the show enters the real badlands of low ratings.And that might prove the match for a prized martial arts champion like Sunny no matter how many necks he snaps.(Photo credit: AMC) Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Following Sunday night’s zombie apocalypse as depicted by the latest episode of The Walking Dead, AMC presented badass martial arts mayhem with its season premiere of Into the Badlands.A lot of strange words with no context were tossed around–Clippers, barons, and the Colts–but swift sidestepping, bone snapping, and karate whooshing distracted the brain and glued the eyes to the screen.At least for a little while.Wearing “cool guy” sunglasses and riding a motorcycle in a blood-red trench coat, Sunny (Daniel Wu) hits the trail to brighten nomadic and hostile gangs’ days by snapping their wrists and impaling them with rusted skewers or wielding his ever shiny katana.Evidently, once upon a time, Sunny was one of the aforementioned Clippers, assassins who “just show up, kill people, and leave.” But beneath all his ink, which records each of his many kills (404 and counting), Sunny is supposedly just a nice guy who made a bad career move. Now he’s about to rewrite his job description, as we shall soon see.
In other NBA action:— Jayson Tatum had 33 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics over the skidding Utah Jazz 114-103. Jaylen Brown added 20 points and Marcus Smart had 17 for Boston. All five starters scored in double figures to help the Celtics finish 3-1 on a road trip out West. Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points to lead the Jazz, who lost their fourth straight game — all at home.— Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 63 points as the Houston Rockets sailed to their fifth straight win, 140-112 over the Memphis Grizzlies. Harden piled up 30 points without playing in the fourth quarter and Westbrook, who had 33, sat down for good with about six minutes left. The duo had 46 points by halftime as Houston built a 73-47 lead. Dillon Brooks had 22 points for the Grizzlies, who finished 0-4 on their longest road trip of the season.— Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Marcus Morris added 18 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns 102-92. Los Angeles won its second straight game, bouncing back from a tough stretch that included its only three-game losing streak of the season. Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 25 points and 17 rebounds. All-Star guard Devin Booker had a rough night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting.— Luka Doncic had 26 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for his 13th triple-double of the season, helping Dallas beat San Antonio 109-103. Kristaps Porzingis added 28 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas. — Evan Fournier (FOHR’-nee-ay) scored 28 points, Aaron Gordon added 25 and the Orlando Magic pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 130-120 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The Magic solidified their hold on the final playoff spot in the East, putting the Hawks away with a 14-5 spurt. Fournier scored nine points in the game-clinching run, and Gordon finished it off with a 3-pointer. The Hawks lost despite a 37-point effort from Trae Young. John Collins added 26 points but was blocked twice in the fourth quarter to stymie any hopes of an Atlanta comeback.— Jerome Robinson’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left lifted the Washington Wizards to a 110-106 win over the Brooklyn Nets to snap a three-game losing streak. After Robinson gave Washington a 108-106 lead with his 3, Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie missed a 3-point attempt and Robinson added two free throws as Washington won a game in which it squandered an 18-point lead. The ninth-place Wizards trail the seventh-place Nets by five games in the Eastern Conference.— — Jordan McLaughlin’s layup with just under nine seconds left put Minnesota ahead for good, D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and the Timberwolves added to Miami’s late-season stagger and the Timberwolves beat the Heat 129-126. Malik Beasley scored 21 points, Juancho Hernangomez tied a season-high with 17 and McLaughlin added 13 for Minnesota. The Timberwolves were down by 12 with 3:59 left, then closed on a 20-5 run to get just their second victory in 20 games. Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 24 points. Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 10 rebounds.— Terry Rozier scored 26 points, and the Charlotte Hornets handed the New York Knicks their fifth straight loss 107-101. The slumping Devonte Graham returned from a team-mandated night off and scored 21 points. P.J. Washington and Bismack Biyombo each scored 12 points for the Hornets, who snapped a two-game losing skid. Julius Randle finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks.NBA-NEWS Stanton, Verlander will likely miss opening dayUNDATED (AP) — Oft-injured New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton will likely miss opening day because of a strained right calf. Manager Aaron Boone says Stanton was injured near the end of defensive drills yesterday. Yankees star pitcher Luis Severino needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season. The AL East champion Yankees open on March 26 at Baltimore.The Yankees put a major league-record 30 players on the injured list last year, with Stanton missing most of the season.Meanwhile, Justin Verlander’s spring training debut will be postponed at least a few more days while the Houston Astros ace deals with tightness in his groin. Verlander had been scheduled to start Thursday against Washington. Instead, he will throw a simulated game at the Astros’ complex prior to that exhibition. Houston manager Dusty Baker said the tightness first appeared a couple of days ago. Baker says he isn’t worried about the injury lingering. Verlander won his second Cy Young Award last season by going 21-6 with a 2.52 ERA.Elsewhere in the majors: — St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has been ruled out from returning to play in the regular season or in the playoffs. Bouwmeester spoke to reporters for the first time since he collapsed on the bench in the first period during a game at the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11. The 36-year-old Edmonton native was hospitalized and spent five nights in the hospital.— Montreal Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot. Mete suffered the injury during the game in Detroit on Feb. 18. The 21-year-old Mete had four goals and 11 assists in 51 games this season.— Peter Laviolette (lah-vee-uh-LET’) is returning to the bench after being selected as the coach of the United States men’s national team competing at the world hockey championships in May. The move was announced by USA Hockey on Wednesday, seven weeks after Laviolette was fired by the Nashville Predators. Laviolette ranks 16th in NHL wins with 637 covering four teams over 18 seasons, including the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. He also coached the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.MLB-UMPIRE PROMOTIONAP Exclusive: MLB appoints 1st black umpire crew chief NFL-NEWSPlayer reps send new CBA to union members for approvalUNDATED (AP) — The NFL and its players are closer to a new collective bargaining agreement and the next decade of labor peace that would come with it. There’s still work to be done to get the deal into the end zone, however. Following a late-night vote on the slim majority approval of the 32 team representatives, the NFL Players Association was preparing to send the current CBA proposal to the full union membership for potential ratification. Last week, owners gave their majority-vote approval. Negotiations have been gone on for the past 10 months. The 17-game regular season is the most significant change.In other NFL news:— Former TCU and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges from the 2018 beating of his girlfriend. Boykin and prosecutors agreed to the sentence in return for his guilty plea Wednesday to aggravated assault and witness tampering charges. Boykin’s attorney says his client will be eligible for parole in less than a year. Shabrika Bailey alleged that Boykin broke her jaw in two places in the March 2018 beating. The Seahawks cut Boykin in the wake of the allegation. February 27, 2020 Monk suspendedUNDATED (AP) — Hornets guard Malik Monk has been suspended without pay for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA’s anti-drug program. Monk’s suspension will begin with Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks and continue until he is determined to be in full compliance with the program.In other NBA news:— The NBA fined Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) $25,000 Wednesday, two days after he made an obscene gesture on the court and used profane language during a live television interview. The gesture occurred with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ 129-112 victory over the Hawks on Monday night. With the clock winding down, Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter came from behind and swiped the ball from Embiid, who was trying to dribble it out. Embiid responded by flashing a middle finger at Huerter. He later apologized.MEN’S T25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL NHL-SCHEDULECompher, Francouz lead Avalanche to 3-2 win over SabresDENVER (AP) — JT. Compher broke a tie on a wrist shot with 8:06 remaining, Martin Kaut scored his first NHL goal and the banged-up Colorado Avalanche won their fourth straight by beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Gabriel Landeskog (LAN’-dehs-kahg) also scored to help the Avalanche vault into second place in the Central Division. Pavel Francouz was sharp in stopping 31 shots. Zemgus Girgensons (ZEHM’-guhz GEER’-gehn-suhnz) and Curtis Lazar scored for the Sabres. They’ve dropped five straight to Colorado. In other action:— The Los Angeles Kings spoiled Patrick Marleau’s debut with Pittsburgh in a 2-1 victory over the Penguins. Blake Lizotte had a power-play goal and an assist, Cal Petersen made 36 saves and Trevor Lewis also scored in the last-place Kings’ fourth win in seven games. Tristan Jarry stopped 20 shots in Pittsburgh’s fourth consecutive regulation loss, matching their total regulation defeats in their previous 22 games since Christmas. Bryan Rust scored with 13:18 to play for the Penguins with an assist from Evgeni Malkin, who played his 900th career game. Update on the latest sports Associated Press — 31-year-old left-hander South Korean star Kwang Hyun Kim retired all six Miami batters he faced in his first Grapefruit League start for the St. Louis Cardinals. It came after he threw one shutout inning of relief against the New York Mets on Saturday. Kim struggled with control of his off-speed pitches in the first inning, but he found his rhythm in the second. He kept batters off balance mixing a fastball that touched 95 mph with his curve. The Marlins didn’t get a ball out of the infield against Kim.— Ubaldo Jimenez took another step in his comeback attempt with the Colorado Rockies, pitching two innings against the Texas Rangers. The 36-year-old threw 21 pitches, 14 for strikes. He gave up two hits and one run, with no walks or strikeouts. He last pitched in the majors in 2017 for Baltimore.— Miguel Sano has volunteered to move across the diamond to accommodate Twins newcomer Josh Donaldson. Sano gave up his regular spot at third base, moving to first base, and let Donaldson take his place at third. Sano bounced back from a winter injury last season and hit a career-high 34 home runs. His power helped the Twins set a major league record with 307 homers and win the AL Central.— Houston’s Alex Bregman was hit on the back by a breaking ball from St. Louis reliever Ramon Santos, the seventh Astros player plunked in five spring training games. Some opposing players have called for retaliation against the Astros following Major League Baseball’s finding that Houston broke rules against electronic sign-stealing en route to its 2017 World Series title and again in 2018. Dustin Garneau was hit Sunday against Washington, and José Altuve was grazed Monday against Detroit, when Osvaldo Duarte and Alex De Goti also were hit. Aledmys Díaz and Jake Meyers were hit Tuesday by Miami.— The Houston Astros continued to get booed on the road in spring training as they visited the home of the New York Mets. Former World Series MVP George Springer was heckled as part of Houston’s split squad. Fans are calling the Astros cheaters, and doing it loudly in the wake of their sign-stealing scam. Springer had to hear it for a bit longer on Wednesday. The star leadoff man stepped into the batter’s box a minute before the game was scheduled to begin, giving the crowd extra time to boo him. — Nick Cousins scored in his Vegas debut and the Golden Knights beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 in a matchup between two of the top teams in the Pacific Division. Max Pacioretty and Shea Theodore also scored as Vegas won its seventh straight game. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves to earn his 61st career shutout to tie Turk Broda for 17th all-time. The 16-year-veteran netminder is now 5-0-0 in his last five starts. Vegas improved to 11-3-2 under Peter DeBoer. Edmonton lost for the first time when playing on the second of back-to-back nights, dropping to 6-1-0.NHL-NEWSMuzzin outUNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs have suffered another setback on defense with the loss of Jake Muzzin to a broken hand. The Leafs announced that Muzzin will be out about four weeks after suffering the injury during a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Toronto also is missing defensemen Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci because of injuries.In other NHL news: Maryland squeaks past Minnesota 74-73UNDATED (AP) — Darryl Morsell drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left for No. 9 Maryland to cap a comeback from a 16-point halftime deficit and beat Minnesota 74-73. Jalen Smith had 16 points and 12 rebounds, including a soaring rebound and slam with 14.5 seconds remaining that pulled the Terrapins within 73-71. Anthony Cowan Jr. had 10 points, nine assists and six rebounds for Maryland, which maintained a two-game lead for first place in the Big Ten with three games left. Daniel Oturu had 28 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which missed three foul shots in the final 39 seconds. Then the Terrapins hustled the ball up to find Morsell, who had 13 points and nine rebounds, for the winner from NBA range.In other T25 action:— Myles Dread hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to lift No. 16 Penn State over Rutgers 65-64 after the Nittany Lions blew a 21-point lead. Trailing 40-19 late in the first half, the Scarlet Knights tied the game at 62 with 1:32 left in the game on Geo Baker’s layup. His jumper gave Rutgers a two-point lead with 42 seconds remaining. Dread hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to lift Penn State over Rutgers 65-64 after the Nittany Lions blew a 21-point lead. Akwasi Yeboah missed a 3-pointer the other way and Dread was swarmed by his teammates who snapped a two-game losing streak.— Saddiq Bey scored 23 points and Justin Moore had 21 to lead No. 12 Villanova past St. John’s 71-60 on Wednesday night. Moore hit eight 3-pointers and Bey had seven. The Wildcats honored former Wildcats star Kyle Lowry. Lowry played two seasons for Villanova before he became a five-time NBA All-Star with the defending champion Toronto Raptors. St. John’s were 12 1/2-point underdogs but kept it close until Moore got on a hot streak down the stretch to seal the win. NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has appointed its first African American umpire crew chief, promoting Kerwin Danley to the position this week.A person familiar with the move spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.The 58-year-old Danley has worked two World Series and been on the field for 10 other postseason rounds, including the AL Championship Series last year.He’s also been chosen to call two All-Star Games. Danley called his first game in the majors in 1992 as a minor league fill-in and was hired to the MLB staff in 1998.MLB-STANTON, VERLANDER TO MISS OPENING DAY Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNBA-SCHEDULECavs route 76ers 108-94, Embiid left with sprained shoulderWASHINGTON (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 28 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers routed Philadelphia 108-94 on Wednesday night after 76ers center Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) left in the first quarter because of a sprained left shoulder. The 76ers, already playing without All-Star guard Ben Simmons, never led against the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and fell to 9-21 on the road.Embiid collided with Cavaliers center Ante Zizic while being fouled late in the first quarter. The 7-footer held his shoulder in obvious pain but stayed in the game and missed both free throws.The Sixers pulled Embiid at the next time stoppage and he walked to the locker room while rubbing his shoulder. He briefly returned to the bench in the second quarter but went back for more evaluation and treatment. At halftime, Embiid rejoined his teammates on the bench with a wrap on his injured shoulder.Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Larry Nance Jr. had 13 points for Cleveland.Shake Milton, who replaced Simmons in the starting lineup, scored 20 points. — The New York Giants have released linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin, clearing significant salary cap space with the departure of their two most expensive defensive players. The Giants, rebuilding under rookie head coach Joe Judge, gained more than $13 million in salary cap savings by jettisoning the two. Ogletree was twice elected a team captain and accumulated a team-high 173 tackles as the starter at inside linebacker over two seasons with the Giants.SPORTS-VIRUS OUTBREAKJapan baseball will play in empty stadiums, Irelands rugby match, Asian soccer postponedUNDATED(AP) — Japan’s professional baseball league says it will play its 72 remaining preseason games in empty stadiums because of the threat of the spreading coronavirus. The regular season is to open on March 20. The virus that began in China is disrupting all of the country’s sports schedules and has raised concerns about the Tokyo Olympics. They are to open on July 24. Representatives of the baseball league’s 12 teams made the move at a special meeting.Meanwhile, Ireland’s Six Nations rugby match against Italy in Dublin has been postponed because of concerns about the spreading virus in Europe. The Italians were scheduled to play at Ireland on March 7, part of annual rugby competition that also includes England, France, Scotland and Wales. A women’s game the following day was also postponed. And Asian soccer leaders have postponed two key meetings because of the outbreak.
By Peter HallLONDON (Reuters) – Eliud Kipchoge ran the second fastest marathon time ever to clinch his fourth London Marathon title on Sunday, ahead of Britain’s Mo Farah who struggled in fifth, while Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei impressed to win the women’s race.Kenya’s Kipchoge made it an incredible 11 marathon wins from 12 races, leading from start to finish to come home in a time of two hours, two minutes and 37 seconds — 58 seconds off his own world record set last year in Berlin.The women’s race got off to a slow start, but reigning champion Vivian Cheruiyot ran a fast 15th mile, before Chicago Marathon champion Kosgei took the lead and strode to her first London title with a time of 02:18:20.Kipchoge was expected to be challenged by Farah, but having kept up with the imperious Kenyan early on, Farah struggled in the latter stages.He finished over three minutes behind the winner, who is regarded by many as the greatest athlete of all time.“It feels strange to be considered the most successful elite man in racing, it’s really good and I’m very, very happy to have won four times,” Kipchoge said.“I know how to win this race and I was confident and didn’t feel it was in doubt at any point.”Farah’s pre-race preparations were marked by a dispute with fellow distance-running great Haile Gebrselassie.However, the multi-Olympic, world and European champion over 10,000 and 5,000 metres said the dispute did not act as a distraction ahead of his third London Marathon.“I didn’t think the fuss affected my run and I wasn’t distracted by the build up,” Farah said. “It was all about London today and so I put my head down, did my best.“I don’t regret anything I said and I respect the race.”In the women’s race, three-times winner Mary Keitany was the favourite with the field going for the women’s only record — without the aid of male pacemakers — set by Keitany in London in 2017.Keitany, however, never troubled Chicago Marathon champion Kosgei and last year’s winner Cheruiyot out in front, finishing down in fifth, 2:38 slower than Kosgei.Kosgei broke clear of Cheruiyot to win having ran the fastest second half of a marathon ever.“To smash my personal best is all I could to ask for,” Kosgei said. “I always get tempted to go with the leaders, but now I run better in the second half so I held back and that worked for me.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Zack Mahoney didn’t make his first start under center until the end of the 11th grade. He was asked to become the backup quarterback that year at Lyons Township (Illinois) High School only because other quarterbacks had quit or gotten injured. Mahoney had what he called an “OK,” high school career in which he started only one season and received zero FBS offers.Yet Mahoney has started nine games over the past three seasons as Syracuse’s backup. With starter Eric Dungey’s propensity to get injured late in the year, Mahoney has gone from high-school backup to Syracuse walk-on to the guy the Orange has entrusted with its offense at the end of the past three seasons.Mahoney, a 6-foot-2 senior, has turned in pedestrian performances throughout his career, mostly against conference teams in unfavorable conditions. Saturday was the latest segment, a 56-10 loss at Louisville (7-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast). Mahoney earned his ninth start for SU (4-7, 2-5) and finished 5-for-15 with two interceptions and 49 passing yards. In the second quarter, he was replaced by third-string QB Rex Culpepper.Given the circumstances, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said Mahoney has “been a major contributor,” and “someone people from Syracuse will always remember.” Mahoney didn’t get recruited by Syracuse. He didn’t earn a scholarship right away, yet he came to become one of the more important players in the program over the past three seasons.“It’s been one hell of a ride,” Mahoney said after SU’s loss to the Cardinals, dropping Mahoney’s career record as a starter to 1-8. “Had an OK high school career. Coming here, I had very little expectation, and everything I’ve accomplished, I look back and take it all in.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMahoney has had a lot to take in. In high school, he mostly played receiver and defensive back. He received a handful of Division II and FCS offers, as well as Big 10 walk-on spots, but he “was adamant he would get to a Power conference school,” his father, Rick, said.Mahoney felt the best way he could eventually get there was via junior college. He ended up about 15 miles from where he grew up in Chicago suburbs, at the College of DuPage, where he redshirted as a freshman because he was inexperienced and underdeveloped, DuPage head coach Matt Foster said.“But he never ever stopped believing,” Foster said. “He knew he wanted to play big time as a QB. He was very raw first. He wasn’t as ready as we thought he needed to be. He took that whole year to practice on the scout team and came back the next year. He completely transformed our team.”His redshirt freshman year, 2014, Mahoney, a team captain, threw for 1,943 yards and was named a Top 20 National Junior College Athletic Association quarterback. After the season, he met with Foster about his transfer options. Foster put him in touch with several FCS schools, he said. Mahoney declined all of them. His eyes were set on Power 5, the dream he had all of his life.“I said there are some options (in FCS) and he told me that’s not what he’s looking for,” Foster said. “My mouth dropped. He said, ‘Coach, I want to play at the highest level.’ That’s when I called his dad and asked him to make sure. I said, ‘I just want to make sure we’ll on the same page.’ And his dad said, ‘That’s what he wants to do, coach.’ He turned down 1-AA scholarships.”Foster was incredulous, but he knew who to call. He graduated from an Illinois high school with Tim Lester, who was Syracuse’s offensive coordinator then. Foster said he told Lester over the phone that Mahoney could play at SU’s level. Lester knew he was going to enter spring practice that January with only three quarterbacks, Foster said. He trusted Foster.On Christmas Eve 2014, Mahoney said, while sitting on his cousin’s couch, he received a call from Syracuse asking him to come for the spring 2015 semester. Days later, he applied to the university. Within three weeks, he had sent over his DuPage transcripts and been accepted to Syracuse, only about two days before he would need to arrive on campus to start football on Jan. 3.“I truly remember having only about 48 hours to get him cleared on the academic side, accepted to the university, to driving out to Syracuse to join a meeting at noon on a Saturday,” his father, Rick, said.Mahoney arrived at Syracuse in January 2015 as a walk-on. He was the fifth-string QB. When starter Terrel Hunt went down with a career-ending injury in the first quarter of the first game that fall, Mahoney was added to SU’s travel roster. His path to the Syracuse pocket accelerated from there. Dungey suffered an injury in Week 3 against Central Michigan. Mahoney’s name was called.The next week, he earned his first career start, against then-No. 8 LSU, keeping the Orange competitive with the Tigers in a 35-25 loss. He started four games that season, including the last three. Against Boston College in the 2015 season finale, Mahoney threw a touchdown pass in SU’s victory to send off then-head coach Scott Shafer. In his 2015 starts against LSU and then-No. 1 Clemson, the Orange lost by only 10 in each game and Mahoney threw for a combined 234 yards and three touchdowns. In August 2016, new head coach Dino Babers awarded him a scholarship. Facebook Twitter Google+ “From walk-on, look where he’s at right now,” said Syracuse senior offensive lineman Jamar McGloster. “Whenever I see him, when I’m having a bad day, I get on with the day. There’s no excuse to keep on having a bad day, because Zack never quit.”Last week in a loss to Wake Forest, Mahoney’s first start since a year ago at Pittsburgh, he threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns — in the first half alone. He threw two interceptions and went only 11-of-25 over the final 30 minutes, but he had reaffirmed that he is capable of holding his own for SU. Entering Saturday in Louisville, Mahoney averaged 412 passing yards per game and threw for eight TDs and ran for two others over his past two starts.Mahoney’s career will end soon. On Saturday, he may have started his last game. Throughout much of his football life, he was overlooked, doubted and unproven, yet he stitched together a career he hopes is an inspiration for junior college players. He grew from walk-on to a temporary starter, and he is the president of Syracuse’s Uplifting Athletes chapter, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about rare diseases.“A lot of coaches said I’d never be able to make it, to try a different level or to maybe not even think about football,” Mahoney said. “When you hear that, it pushes you to go reach out and get the goal. A lot of people probably thought I was crazy saying no to FCS schools. Even those who supported me said, ‘You know, you might never play a snap there.’ And I said, ‘That’s fine. I see a goal that I want and I’m going to go take it.’” Comments Published on November 18, 2017 at 10:10 pm Contact Matthew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @MatthewGut21