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College football

Rally puts W. Kentucky in I-AA final vs. McNeese

By Times wires and staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 15, 2002


STATESBORO, Ga. -- Western Kentucky quarterback Jason Michael scored on a 2-yard run with 46 seconds left to lead the Hilltoppers into the Division I-AA championship game for the first time with a 31-28 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday.

Western Kentucky plays McNeese State, a 39-28 winner over Villanova, on Friday in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Georgia Southern (11-3), which had won 10 straight, was trying to win its seventh national title since 1985.

The Eagles (13-1) rallied from a 17-point deficit to take a 28-24 lead, but Western Kentucky (11-3) went on a 76-yard drive, capped by Michael's winning run.

Michael finished with 38 yards rushing and two TDs; he completed 9 of 15 passes for 149 yards.

MCNEESE ST. 39, VILLANOVA 28: B.J. Sams scored twice and the host Cowboys rallied from a two-touchdown deficit.

Sams put McNeese State up 26-21 in the fourth when he caught a pass, broke three tackles and went 69 yards. He also ran for a 5-yard TD in the third. He finished with 47 yards rushing and had three catches for 90 yards.

Brett Gordon completed 24 of 49 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns for Villanova (11-4) despite playing with a broken thumb.

Division II championship

GRAND VALLEY ST. 31, VALDOSTA ST. 24: Curt Anes threw a 10-yard TD to David Kircus with 1:04 left to give the Lakers its first NCAA title in Florence, Ala.

Kircus had 11 catches for 270 yards and three touchdowns, extending his all-division record for TD receptions in a season to 35.

Besides the winning score, Anes and Kircus connected on scoring passes of 54 and 67 yards.

Anes, who won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the best player in Division II on Friday, completed 23 of 36 passes for 361 yards for the Lakers (14-0).

Division III playoffs

MOUNT UNION 57, JOHN CARROLL 19: Dan Pugh ran for a career-high 254 yards and five touchdowns as the visiting Purple Raiders reached the national title game -- again.

Mount Union (13-0) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 41. It will go for its third straight national championship -- and seventh in 10 years -- against Trinity of Texas in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on Saturday in Salem, Va.

TRINITY 41, ST. JOHN'S, MINN. 34: Roy Hampton's 4-yard run with 2:18 left lifted the host Tigers (14-0) to their first final. Hampton also completed 16 of 26 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for 89 yards.

Kent Crowley ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns for St. John's (12-2). Blake Elliott caught 15 passes for 155 yards and three TDs.

Trinity's Jerheme Urban had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:48 left in the first half.

FSU practices in pads

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State put on the pads for the first time since playing Florida on Nov. 30 and practiced in the early morning with temperatures in the low 40s.

"We had a good practice today but it would have been nice to have some warmer weather," coach Bobby Bowden said.

QUICK RETURN: Freshman defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley practiced despite injuring his MCL against Florida. Bowden said there was an outside chance Bunkley could play in the Sugar Bowl.

UF recruits get tour

GAINESVILLE -- Several recruits attended practice at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. But coach Ron Zook also said he wants his potential signees to see the importance of earning a degree at Florida and that their future teammates genuinely are interested in the recruits choosing the Gators.

"Obviously you try to expose them to as many things around campus as you can," Zook said. "You try to expose them to what it's like during football here. But more importantly, you got 13 or 14 days (to show the recruit what Florida's like.)"

SWAC championship

GRAMBLING ST. 31, ALABAMA A&M 19: Bruce Eugene threw for 413 yards and three touchdowns to lead the visiting Tigers to the title.

PITT: Coach Walt Harris, unhappy with reports he interviewed at Kentucky, said he has spoken to no other school and does not intend to leave.

TEXAS: Receiver Roy Williams will play another year instead of leaving early for the NFL.

-- Times correspondents Jason Schneider and Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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