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Norm Cookson honored as Lightning Community Hero

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TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Norm Cookson as the second Lightning Community Hero this evening during the first period of tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers. Cookson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay.

For 10 years, Cookson has strived to make a positive impact on the lives of children as a House Parent at A Kid’s Place. Having spent time in foster care as a child himself, Cookson knows firsthand the importance of having a stable, positive influence to get through those difficult times and look ahead to a bright future. Cookson, along with his wife, Heidi, are now able to provide that positive influence to foster children daily at A Kid’s Place, a non-profit dedicated to providing residential services for foster children.

The grant tonight will fund programming at A Kid’s Place that aims to develop age-appropriate independent living. Cookson has been a compassionate and dedicated role model at A Kid’s Place, being a go-to person for staff and kids alike. His efforts are helping to carve bright futures for many local foster children.

Cookson becomes the 453rd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through tonight’s game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $23.7 million to more than 750 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.

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NFL

Brady, Buccaneers Beat the Falcons 21-15

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (#7) gets tackled as he carries for the Bucs in the second quarter. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (#7) gets tackled as he carries for the Bucs in the second quarter. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN) – Brady had never lost to the Atlanta Falcons up to Sunday’s game, and he and the Buccaneers fought hard to keep that record going. Though the Bucs were without wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Julio Jones–who missed the chance to play against his old team–as well as tight end Cameron Brate and backup quarterback Kyle Trask, they made a strong start in the first half.

First Half

Both defenses were stingy all of first quarter, as both teams remained scoreless.

At 9:34 in the second quarter, the Bucs finally got on the board first after Brady’s successful nine-yard pass to Chris Godwin that put them at first and goal followed by Leonard Fournette’s one-yard run into the end zone. The score ticked to 7-0 after the extra point.

By that point in the game, the Buccaneers had clocked a total of 29 plays and 176 yards, averaging 12 minutes of possession time.

Brady and the Bucs piled on more points on the board with two field goals from by Ryan Succop–the first a 21-yard field goal and the closer a 44-yard stunner. The Falcons still remained scoreless at halftime, 13-0.

At halftime, Brady was 25 for 33 on pass completions for 256 yards.

Second Half

Brady stuck with that strategy in the third quarter, passing 40 yards to Mike Evans, who delivered it to the one-yard line. The play originally looked like a touchdown, but after the Bucs challenged the ruling on the field, it stood: Evans ended up out of bounds before making it into the end zone.

Following the ruling, Brady made a one-yard toss to Leonard Fournette, who ran it in for the Bucs’ third score.

Brady did made a successful two-point conversion play to Russell Gage, raising the score to a whopping 21-0 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons finally clapped back near the end of the third quarter with their own touchdown. Quarterback Marcus Mariota handed off to running back Avery Williams, who ran the ball eight yards into the end zone. After the extra point, the score gap closed to 21-7.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons managed to shrink the Bucs’ lead to a single touchdown (or two field goals) by not only scoring a touchdown, but also nailing a two-point conversion, bringing the score to 21-15.

While the scoring ended there, Marcus Mariota and the Falcons made a noticeable comeback in the second half, netting 15 points after being scoreless in the first half.

Mariota gave this assessment postgame about the Bucs defense:

“You have to give them credit, right? They’ve caused havoc through these first few weeks. You know, they’re a great defense. At times, for us, we were just kind of getting in our own way, really. I think when we were able to come in [at] halftime – make some adjustments – guys kind of flew around and made some plays and, you know, as you get going and you get in a rhythm that’s when this offense plays well. We [have] to be able to start better and get in a rhythm earlier so that we’re not in these deep holes when we get in the fourth quarter.”

-Marcus Mariota, Atlanta falcons QB

Bucs coach Todd Bowles gave a brutally honest assessment of the Bucs’ performance.

“…I don’t think we executed in the third quarter. The first half we kept their defense on the field. Second half, our offense was going three-and-out, which kept our defense on the field. Fatigue set in for both sides, I think. It was a tough ball game, and wins are hard to come by in this league. We were playing for first place, and we were happy we could get it.”

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles

The Buccaneers hit the road for the next two weeks, first facing the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 16, then the Carolina Panthers on October 23, with both games kicking off at 1pm ET.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News, part of the FNN News Network. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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NFL

VIDEO: Buccaneers vs. Chiefs Postgame: Coach Todd Bowles, Tom Brady Concede Defeat

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Image: J Willie David III/Florida News Channel (screen capture).

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles and quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged that the Kansas City Chiefs “were the better team” on the field after a 41-31 loss at Raymond James Stadium Sunday night.

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FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Mandola’s Italian Kitchen Opens Third Florida Location in Oldsmar

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Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third Florida location in Oldsmar. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News,
Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third location in Oldsmar, in the Tampa Bay area. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News

Modeled after an Italian marketplace, Mandola’s Italian Kitchen brings its quick service concept to Oldsmar. Named after famed restaurateur Damian Mandola, who founded Carrabba’s with his nephew Johnny Carrabba, the restaurant’s third Florida location is also co-owned by Paul Avery, the former Chief Operating Officer of Outback Steakhouse.

“While in New York or in the North End of Boston or Providence, Rhode Island, I would go to the Italian areas,” Mandola said. “You have the bakery or you have the gelateria or the cafe, or the deli with all the food products and the cheeses and olive oil and things like that.”

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Mandola, who admits his passion lies in the cooking process and fresh ingredients, while Avery is the business mastermind, felt the need to put all of those Italian staples under one roof, so he and his wife opened their first Mandola’s in Austin, TX in 2006. The concept grew rapidly and quickly moved into Florida with its first location in Riverview in 2001 and Carrollwood shortly thereafter.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Guests enter Mandola’s and walk right up to the counter to order where they are greeted by friendly staff who are ready to take them on a culinary journey their taste buds won’t forget. Food is cooked fresh in an open kitchen using the best ingredients and pasta al dente just like Mama Mandola would have prepared it.

The vibrant dining room adorned with red and green chairs, flags from the ceiling, and walls adorned with family photos is a welcome calling. Moments after we were seated, fresh focaccia bread with olive oil and spices for dipping arrived at the table.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Our table ordered the fried mozzarella for the antipasti course. Golden brown triangles with oodles of gooey mozzarella and the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

For dinner, we feasted on traditional favorites: eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti and marinara sauce and chicken parmesan served with fettuccine Alfredo. Equally delicious and the portion size left us with barely any room for dessert!

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

“A lot of these are Mama Mandola’s recipes,” he said. “Chicken parmesan is our favorite and our biggest seller. For me, my favorite is my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. It reminds me of Sundays at my mom’s and we had all the family together.”

No matter what you are in the mood for, the menu features a plethora of salads (with homemade dressing) antipasti, pizza, pasta, and chicken dishes like chicken marsala with a wine reduction from the Lombardi Family in Sicily, as well as daily specials like linguine with clam sauce, and brasato, beef short rib, slow-braised with red wine, aromatic vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Thirsty? No worries. In addition to traditional Italian sodas, sparkling waters, and soft drinks, Mandola’s also offers beer, wine on tap, and specialty drinks such as sangria, bellinis, frose, mimosas, and spritz from the bar.

If we could offer one very valuable piece of advice, it is to save room for dessert! The bakery is a can’t-miss at Mandola’s, with fresh pastries made daily including Italian cookies like lemon ricotta, famous cannolis, specialty cakes, tiramisu, and who could forget sorbetto and gelato?

My guest and I couldn’t decide on one flavor each, so we went with a combo of lemon and raspberry, and almond with cookies and cream. Let’s just say we both agreed it was as good as the ones we enjoyed in Italy.

Mandola’s Italian Kitchen is located at 3138 Tampa Rd, Oldsmar, FL, and is open for lunch and dinner and plans to open future locations in nearby Odessa, Orlando, and Jacksonville as well.

The restaurant is perfect for a family dinner, or date night, or if you want to stop in and grab a coffee and dessert that’s an excellent idea as well!

 

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