NIU WINS MAC'S WEST DIVISION: Jordan Lynch threw for 407 yards and three touchdowns Wednesday night and Northern Illinois defeated Toledo 31-24 to claim a spot in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Lynch, a Mount Carmel graduate, Times 2008 offensive player and 2009 Times male athlete of the year, also ran for 162 yards for the Huskies (10-1, 7-0), who extended the longest home winning streak in Division I to 21 games. The defending MAC champions won their 10th straight game and wrapped up the West Division title to advance to the conference championship Nov. 30 in Detroit.
Toledo (8-3, 5-2) led 14-7 at halftime, but 18 seconds into the third quarter Lynch hooked up with Martel Moore for a 74-yard touchdown pass, their second scoring connection of the game. NIU went ahead 21-14 on Lynch's 6-yard TD pass to Ashford Perez.
The Rockets trailed 31-14 but got within seven points after Jeremiah Detmer's 34-yard field goal with 5:57 left. The Huskies picked up three first downs and ran out the clock.
Moore had 153 yards receiving for NIU. Terrance Owens threw for 265 yards and ran for a score for Toledo.
BALL STATE WINS SHOOTOUT WITH OHIO: Zane Fakes' 13-yard touchdown catch with 8:14 to play Wednesday night gave Ball State a three-score lead and a chance to breathe easy against an Ohio squad looking to win their ninth contest of the season.
In front of a national audience, a rarity for teams out of the Mid-American Conference, Ohio and Ball State went toe-to-toe until the fourth quarter when Ball State outscored the Bobcats 21-3 on their way to a 52-27 victory.
Fakes caught seven passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns, the most important coming in the fourth quarter to give Ball State (8-3, 5-2 Mid-American) a 45-27 lead. Ohio (8-3, 4-3) never recovered and have lost three of their last four games after starting the season 7-0.
Jahwan Edwards had 17 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown, while Horactio Banks had 14 carries for 135 yards and a score for the Cardinals.
KAWANN SHORT HEADED TO SENIOR BOWL: Purdue defensive tackle and E. Central grad Kawann Short has accepted an invitation to play in this season's Senior Bowl.
Short has started 47 games for the Boilermakers (4-6, 1-5 Big Ten) and is considered a possible first-round pick in April's NFL draft.
He leads the conference in tackles for loss (13.0) and is tied for fourth in sacks (5.0) this season. He also has set a school career record by blocking six field goals. He has blocked eight kicks overall.
The game will be played Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala., and is one of the top showcases heading into the draft.
It is the seventh consecutive year a Purdue player has been invited to the game.
HASSEBROCK COMMITS TO PURDUE CALUMET: Evansville Reitz's Rosalyn Hassebrock has committed to play for Purdue Calumet. The goalie is a two-time ISCA All-District selection.
SMITH COMMITS TO PURDUE CALUMET: Setter/defensive specialist Haley Smith has committed to Purdue Calumet. Smith was the team captain at Bradley Bourbonnais (Ill.) High School. She had 261 digs and 89 assists as a senior.
GOULD BLASTS SOLDIER FIELD, THEN APOLOGIZES: Bears kicker Robbie Gould ripped the surface at Soldier Field and then apologized for it.
Gould blasted the field on Wednesday, saying he might have to think about re-signing with Chicago when his contract expires after next season. He told reporters he hopes to remain with the Bears but isn't sure he wants "to deal with that as I get older as a kicker."
He says the field has been "a lot softer" than in previous years.
Later, however, the Bears issued a statement from Gould in which he apologized to the grounds crew and said he has "since learned a lot more about the NFL's policies and the measures that are taken at Soldier Field to ensure a reliable and safe playing surface."
BOOZER HELPS BULLS OUTLAST SUNS: Carlos Boozer had 28 points and 14 rebounds to help the Bulls outlast the Phoenix Suns 112-106 in overtime Wednesday night.
Luol Deng added 21 points, and center Joakim Noah had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
JENNINGS, ELLIS LEAD BUCKS PAST PACERS: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis scored 16 points each to help the Milwaukee Bucks cruise to a 99-85 victory over the struggling Pacers on Wednesday night.
Tyler Hansbrough scored 17 points for the Pacers, while Gerald Green and Paul George added 12 points apiece. Indiana lost its fifth straight on the road.
PRICE, DICKEY WIN CY YOUNG AWARDS: David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets won baseball's Cy Young awards on Wednesday.
Price barely beat out 2011 winner Justin Verlander for the American League prize in one of the closest votes ever. Dickey was an easy choice for the NL honor in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The 38-year-old Dickey became the first pitcher who relied predominantly on a knuckleball to win the Cy Young Award.
Runner-up two years ago in the Cy Young race, Price was the pick this time for the AL's top pitching prize. He received 14 of 28 first-place votes to edge Verlander, chosen first on 13 ballots.
Other than a 1969 tie between Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain, it was the tightest race in the history of the AL award.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney got the other first-place vote and came in fifth.
JEFTICH TO BE INDUCTED INTO ISCA HALL OF FAME: Danny Jeftich's weekend plans were altered Wednesday, but the veteran Valparaiso boys soccer coach doesn't mind.
Jeftich received a morning message that he is going to be inducted into the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association's Hall of Fame. Jefitch was planning on being in Indianapolis for Saturday's Soccer Showcase to watch Valpo's Yamen Atassi, Chase Holford, Ethan Lehnen and Luke Kovar play. Now he will stay an extra day for the induction ceremony.
"I usually go down every year, but I didn't expect this," Jeftich said. "It was a pleasant surprise."
Jeftich coached at Munster for three years, and he's been at Valparaiso the last 22. The Vikings have won 10 sectionals, five regionals, three semistates and the program's lone state title in 2004.
"It's nice to feel like something has thought of you," he said. "It makes me feel like everything has been worthwhile." !~ Jim Hunsley
HOYS TO HOLD TRYOUTS: Hammond Optimist Youth Sports will hold tryouts for its 10-and-under, 11U and 12U Bulldog baseball teams Saturday at Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex, 1245 North River Drive.
Tryouts for the 12U team will be at 10 a.m. on Field 5; tryouts for the 11U and 10U teams will be at noon at Field 3. The teams will play a travel schedule, including tournaments and regular in-house Cal Ripken Baseball. Professional instruction is included during the winter months.
The 12U Bulldogs will be the host team for the United States 2013 12U Cal Ripken World Series. For details, contact Tim Bell at (219) 484-0568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.