In Sports from United Press International

Nov. 17, 2002 at 1:17 AM
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Ohio State saves season in overtime

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The Ohio State Buckeyes almost saw their national championship hopes disappear Saturday while the Texas Longhorns' hopes for the No. 1 prize were crushed in an avalanche of touchdown passes from Kliff Kingsbury.

If the Buckeyes and Miami Hurricans can make it the rest of the way through the regular season unbeaten, they will meet in the Fiesta Bowl for the NCAA title. Miami had the weekend off before resuming action next Saturday against Pittsburgh. Ohio State, however, faced a potentially dangerous trap and the Buckeyes came close to falling into it.

It took an eight-yard touchdown run in overtime to give Ohio State a 23-16 victory over Illinois. Ohio State went into the weekend with the No. 1 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series and a victory next weekend over Michigan in Columbus will put the Buckeyes in the title game.

Miami, ranked second in the BCS, and Washington State, in the No. 3 position, both were idle while No. 4 Oklahoma brushed aside the Baylor Bears, 49-9.

Texas, however, will drop from its No. 5 spot after being blitzed by Kingsbury. The Texas Tech quarterback threw six touchdown passes, the last of them coming with 5:14 remaining, to give the Red Raiders a 42-38 victory over the Longhorns. The win kept Texas Tech in the running for the Big 12 Conference title and a spot in one of the BCS bowls.

The Buckeyes improved to 12-0, producing the first 12-win season in school history. But their perfect season was placed in serious jeopardy after John Gockman sent the game into overtime with a 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel, who threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minutes to give the Buckeyes a win at Purdue last week, again remained poised under pressure. Krenzel scrambled 14 yards for a first down on third and 10 from the 25, setting up the touchdown run by Hall two plays later.

Illinois had a chance to extend the game, moving to the Ohio State nine with the help of an 18-yard pass from Jon Beutjer to Walter Young.

Beutjer threw a second-down pass to Aaron Moorehead in the right corner of the end zone that was ruled out of bounds. On the next play, Young bobbled a pass from Beutjer in the left corner of the end zone and was ruled out of bounds before gaining control.

A fourth-down pass from Beutjer was batted down at the line of scrimmage, clinching Ohio State's victory.

In other key action Saturday:

-- Iowa completed an unbeaten Big Ten Conference schedule for the first time in 80 years by running over Minnesota, 45-21. The Hawkeyes set a school record with their 11th win, but completed its regular season Saturday and must watch as the rest of the season plays out before finding out where it will spend the holidays.

-- Georgia wrapped up a berth in the Southeastern Conference championship game with a 24-21 victory over Auburn. Michael Johnson caught a 19-yard pass on fourth down with 1:25 remaining for the go-ahead score.

-- The first bowl berth of the season was determined when North Texas defeated New Mexico State, 38-27. North Texas, as champion of the Sun Belt Conference, will play in the New Orleans Bowl for the second straight year.

Mavericks remain unbeaten

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Shawn Bradley hit a pair of clutch jumpers in the final 5 1/2 minutes Saturday night as the unbeaten Dallas Mavericks continued the best start in team history with their 10th straight win, 96-88 over the New Jersey Nets.

One of the most exciting games of the young NBA season was tied at 83-83 after Nets guard Lucious Harris made a three-pointer with 5:39 remaining. The Mavericks were forced to inbound with one second on the shot clock on their next possession and found the defensive-minded Bradley, who nailed a jumper to give them the lead for good.

The Nets' offense stalled and both teams had several empty possessions before Bradley hit a long jumper over Dikembe Mutombo with 3:44 to go. Steve Nash added a pair of baskets for a 91-83 cushion with 2:24 remaining.

Nash pumped in 11 of his season high tying 30 points in the fourth quarter and Michael Finley had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks, whose 10-game run is the best start in the NBA since Philadelphia won its first 10 games two years ago en route to the NBA Finals.

Nuggets manage just 53 points

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Clifford Robinson scored 17 of his 19 points in the final quarter Saturday night as the Detroit Pistons held the Denver Nuggets to the second-lowest total in NBA history in a 74-53 victory.

The Nuggets had a 29-28 lead at halftime for the lowest scoring half since the inception of the shot clock in 1954. The teams combined for just 87 points through three quarters, but Robinson came to life in the final period.

Robinson made five of six shots and seven of seven free throws in the final period, outscoring the Nuggets by himself. His 17 points were two more than Denver scored in any quarter.

The lowest-scoring team in the NBA, Denver shot just 33 percent from the floor and averted a dubious league record by four points. The Chicago Bulls managed just 49 points against the Miami Heat on April 10, 1999.

Other NBA results: Philadelphia 93, New York 92; Atlanta 89, New Orleans 82; Washington 95, Miami 65; San Antonio 90, Cleveland 77; Indiana 107, Minnesota 101, Chicago 111, Memphis 93; Milwaukee 104, Boston 95; Golden State 135, Orlando 92.

Canadiens break out of slump

MONTREAL, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Yanic Perreault scored twice and Jose Theodore stopped 23 shots Saturday night as the Montreal Canadiens bounced back from an embarrassing loss with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in the finale of a home-and-home series.

After Friday's 5-1 defeat at New Jersey, Canadiens Coach Michel Therrien said his team played without pride. General Manager Andre Savard took it a step further, holding a closed-door meeting Saturday afternoon.

Montreal responded with a solid defensive effort and avoided a third straight loss.

Theodore, who did not play Friday, defeated the Devils for just the second time in 10 career decisions. The reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner took a shutout into the third period and improved to just 2-5-2 since a season-opening victory.

Perreault tallied in the final minute of the second period to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead and padded it early in the third to complete his third two-goal game of the season.

Other NHL results: Ottawa 4, Buffalo 1; Boston 2, Philadelphia 2; Detroit 2, Toronto 1; San Jose 7, Florida 3; New York Islanders 3, Pittsburgh 2; Los Angeles 4, Edmonton 1; Minnesota 1, Washington 0; Nashville 1, Columbus 1; St. Louis 1, Calgary 0; Vancouver 3, New York Rangers 1.

Stewart goes after NASCAR title

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Tony Stewart's path to the NASCAR Winston Cup championship has been much more difficult off the track than in the heat of battle.

Stewart's fiery temper has been the major roadblock on his way to the title entering Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Trouble has a way of finding Stewart and it found him Saturday in the garage area.

As Stewart left a news conference and returned to his team transporter, he bumped into a photographer while trying to avoid a crowd of fans and other photographers. The photographer, Rusty Jarrett, said he took a forearm from Stewart.

Jarrett was not injured.

According to NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter, the dispute is under investigation. A photo of the incident was "inconclusive."

Earlier this year, Stewart was fined $10,000 by NASCAR and $50,000 by sponsor The Home Depot for punching photographer Gary Mook after the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stewart apologized to the photographer and took him to dinner when the Winston Cup series stopped in Kansas City in September.

Stewart also said he was undergoing anger management sessions but still shows the fire that has gotten him in a load of trouble.

He enters Sunday's race with an 89-point lead over Mark Martin. Stewart can wrap up his first Winston Cup championship by finishing no worse than 22nd, no matter what Martin does.

Stewart has won this race twice.

Americans lead in Warburg Cup

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The United States threatened to run away Saturday at the UBS Warburg Cup before the Rest of the World won the last three four-ball matches to stay within a point.

The U.S. claimed the first three four-ball matches for a four-point advantage, but Nick Faldo and Eduardo Romero began the Rest of the World's comeback with a 1-up victory over Curtis Strange and Hale Irwin.

Denis Durnian and Barry Lane then beat Tom Kite and Scott Hoch, 4 and 3, before Rodger Davis and Stewart Ginn rolled to a 4 and 2 triumph over Mark O'Meara and Paul Azinger.

Looking to defend their title at the second annual Warburg Cup, the Americans will take a 6 1/2-5 1/2 point lead into Sunday's 12 singles matches at Sea Island Golf Club.

Packers seek playoff berth

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Just two weeks past the midway point of the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers will try to secure a playoff berth Sunday.

The "family feud" between Michael Vick and Aaron Brooks will resume in Atlanta, where the Falcons host the New Orleans Saints; the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Tennessee Titans in a matchup of old AFC Central Division rivals; and the San Diego Chargers host the San Francisco 49ers in a key interconference battle.

There will also be a battle between the AFC's highest-scoring teams at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills.

Boasting the NFL's best record, the Packers (8-1) could become the quickest team to capture a divisional title since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

Green Bay could win the NFC North on Sunday with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings (2-7), coupled with a loss by the Detroit Lions to the New York Jets.

But beating the Vikings at the Metrodome has been anything but easy for the NFL's premier quarterback as Brett Favre owns a 2-8 career record there, throwing 10 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

Even with the Vikings enduring a 5-11 season in 2001, Favre could not find a way to get a victory under the dome. He passed for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in a 35-13 loss.

Favre has struggled indoors throughout his career, going just 11-18. However, his biggest victory came in a dome when he led the Packers to a Super Bowl title in 1996 over New England at the Louisiana Superdome.

Even though they may say otherwise, the Oakland Raiders (5-4) never will forget last season's controversial playoff loss to the New England Patriots (5-4).

In front of a national television audience on Sunday night, the AFC teams meet for the first time since the Patriots pulled out a 16-13 overtime victory last January 19 in a snowstorm at Foxboro en route to an improbable Super Bowl triumph.

Despite the weather conditions, Tom Brady completed 32 of 52 passes for 312 yards and scored on a six-yard run. Adam Vinatieri tied the game with a 45-yard field goal through heavy snow late in the fourth quarter and won it with a 23-yarder in overtime.

But the Raiders believe it was a snow job. On the drive that led to Vinatieri's tying field goal, it appeared that Brady had fumbled after being hit and the Raiders recovered.

A replay review overturned the fumble, calling it an incomplete pass. The ruling forever will be known as the "no tuck rule" since Brady was in the act of throwing the ball forward when he stopped his motion and did not tuck the ball back into his body.

In the battle of cousins, Vick and the Falcons (5-3-1) meet Brooks and the Saints (7-2) for the second time this season. Vick won the first meeting on Oct. 27 in New Orleans, accounting for 277 yards and matching a team record with 91 yards on the ground and two touchdowns in a 37-35 victory.

The Steelers (5-3-1) and Titans (5-4) both have recovered from tough starts and meet at the Coliseum.

Pittsburgh dropped its first two games but is 5-1-1 over the last seven, moving into first place in the AFC North. Tennessee was mired in a four-game losing streak but has won its last four to tie Indianapolis for first place in the AFC South.

In what could be the highest-scoring game of the day, the Chiefs (4-5) entertain the Bills (5-4).

Led by Priest Holmes, who is second in the NFL with 908 rushing yards, the Chiefs lead the league in scoring at 28.8 points per game. Holmes has 14 rushing touchdowns and 53 catches for 445 yards and two scores.

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe leads Buffalo, which is second in the AFC and third in the league in scoring at 27.6 points. Bledsoe is second in the NFL with 2,802 passing yards to go with 17 TDs.

Trying to avoid a third straight loss, the Chargers (6-3) host the 49ers (7-2), who have a two-game lead in the NFC West.

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