Sports briefs: Jan. 1

December 31, 2013 

NFL

Cobb played more than planned in first game back for Packers

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who scored the winning touchdown Sunday against the Chicago Bears, was only supposed to play about 15 snaps in his first game back after missing 10 games with a broken leg. The former University of Kentucky star, who didn't enter the game until the second quarter, was in on 37 of the team's 78 plays on offense.

"Going in we said if we can get him 15 or so snaps, that would be great," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said Tuesday, according to a report on the team's website. "He played more and he felt fine, so I'm sure that's good for his confidence. He didn't have a problem playing the extended number of plays, so that's good."

Cobb was targeted only twice by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He caught both for touchdowns.

Next up for Green Bay is a playoffs matchup against Week 1 opponent San Francisco. Cobb had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in that game, but the Packers lost 34-28 to the 49ers.

"He's dangerous with the ball in his hands," Clements said. "If you can get him the ball, he has a chance to make big plays out of short gains. ... He's used to being a punt returner and a kick returner, running in traffic and making guys miss. That's where he excels."

■ There was some question as to whether Peyton Manning's record for passing yards in a season would stand, but the Elias Sports Bureau ruled that a 7-yard pass from Manning to Eric Decker that occurred in the first quarter of Denver's 34-14 win at Oakland on Sunday was indeed a forward pass.

Manning finished Sunday's win against the Oakland Raiders with 266 yards passing before sitting out the second half. His final throw was a 6-yard TD toss to Demaryius Thomas which gave him 5,477 yards for the season — one more yard than Drew Brees' 2011 record.

■ The Cincinnati Bengals changed punters for the playoffs, waiving Shawn Powell after only two games and signing Zoltan Mesko. Powell was signed after Kevin Huber suffered a season-ending broken jaw during a 30-20 loss in Pittsburgh on Dec. 15. Powell shanked a 10-yard punt during a 34-17 win over Baltimore on Sunday. The Bengals also signed tight end Kevin Brock on Tuesday, giving them a replacement for Alex Smith, who is out for the playoffs with a dislocated wrist.


College basketball

Illinois defeats Indiana in overtime

Illinois sank five key free throws late to knock off Indiana in overtime 83-80 in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Rayvonte Rice, who hit the final two free throws with 2 seconds left, led the host Illini with 29 points and eight rebounds. Indiana was led by Yogi Ferrell's 30 points.

Jerami Grant scored 15 points in his first start of the season, Rakeem Christmas matched his career high with 15 points, and No. 2 Syracuse beat visiting Eastern Michigan 70-48 on Tuesday. Syracuse (13-0) raced to a 20-point lead in the first half, allowed the Eagles to slice it in half before the break, then regained control early in the second and won its 51st straight non-conference game in the Carrier Dome.

LaQuinton Ross finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, both career-highs, and Shannon Scott added a career-best 18 points to help No. 3 Ohio State pull away for a 78-69 win at Purdue.

Andre Dawkins scored 15 points and No. 7 Duke routed Elon 86-48 at Greensboro, N.C. Rodney Hood had 13 points and freshman Jabari Parker had 12 points and a season-high-tying 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (11-2).

Justin Martin led a 13-point run that opened the second half and sent Xavier to a 70-60 victory at home over St. John's in the tip-off game for the reconfigured Big East. One of the league's newcomers beat one of its old guard with a dominant second half.

■ Oklahoma State forward Michael Cobbins will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Cowboys Coach Travis Ford said Cobbins will have surgery on Thursday for the injury he suffered Monday's game against Robert Morris. Cobbins, who started all 13 games, was averaging 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Johnny Orr, the fist-pumping basketball coach who led Michigan to the national title game and Iowa State into national prominence, died. He was 86.

His death was confirmed Tuesday by Iowa State, where Orr led the Cyclones to a school-record 218 wins from 1980 until 1994.

Mr. Orr spent 29 seasons as a Division I coach. Twelve were at Michigan, where he guided the Wolverines to four NCAA Tournament berths, the national title game in 1976 and 209 wins, the most in the school history.

■ Transylvania women's junior Alex McKenzie, a Scott County graduate, scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Pioneers' 68-56 victory over Southern Maine in the championship game of the Scottsdale Shootout in Arizona late Monday night.

Katelyn Smith (Perry County Central) and Nicole Coffman (Casey County) added 17 and 15 points, respectively, and Jordin Fender (Paul Dunbar) had five points and seven assists.


Girls' high school basketball

LexCath girls win Florida tournament

Rachel Blake scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Lexington Catholic (8-3) to a 65-46 victory over Cardinal Gibbons, Fla., in the championship game of the Queen of Palms tournament at Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday night.

The Lady Knights' Bailey Browning, who had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, was named MVP of the tournament.

Lexington Catholic outscored Cardinal Gibbons 18-3 at the free-throw line. Blake was 6-for-6.

Erin Boley had 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in Elizabethtown's 64-50 victory against Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) in the Naples Holiday Shootout on Tuesday. Darien Huff and Reauna Carter added 10 points apiece for the Lady Panthers, who are No. 1 in Dave Cantrall's Rating the State.

■ No. 9 Sacred Heart lost 48-44 to Rogers (Ohio) in the Naples Holiday Shootout in Florida on Tuesday. DaiJia Ruffin led the Valkyries with 14 points and nine rebounds.


Horse racing

Castellano New York's top jockey

Javier Castellano earned his first year-end riding title and David Jacobson topped the trainer standings on The New York Racing Association circuit in 2013.

Castellano won 239 races at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga, including Grade I scores aboard Princess of Sylmar in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, and Beldame Invitational. Castellano's mounts earned $26.3 million, breaking the previous record of $25.6 million set in 2012 by Ramon Dominguez.

Irad Ortiz Jr. was second with 222 wins, with his brother, Jose Ortiz, finishing third with 211 wins.

Jacobson's 164 wins established a record for victories by a trainer in a single year, previously held by Gary Contessa, who won 159 races in 2007. Second-place trainer Todd Pletcher won 117 races. Chad Brown was third with 101 wins.


The last word

John Harbaugh would have preferred to be wearing sweat clothes, standing on the football field and surrounded by a bunch of players. Instead, the Baltimore Ravens coach was sporting a sharp gray suit, light blue shirt and striped tie Tuesday, two days after his team was eliminated from the playoffs:

"I guess I apologize for the fact that we're even having this press conference, that we have to talk about wrapping up the season and the playoffs haven't even started yet. That's not territory that we're very comfortable with or very familiar with or that we're very happy about around here."

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