Phil Pash’s Sports Notes

Boylan Dream Ends: Rockford Boylan’s hopes for a state high school football championship were ended in a 42-14 loss to powerful Mundelein Carmel in the Class 6A quarterfinals at Titans Stadium.

Carmel (12-0), considered one of the top prep teams in the country by USA Today ratings, will face Minooka (10-2) in this weekend’s semifinals. Minooka advanced with a 14-7 victory over New Lenox Providence.

Boylan finished 10-2. The Titans have reached the finals once—in 1975—and the semifinals five other times, in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2000.

Two Rockford-area teams still are alive in the playoffs—Stillman Valley and Galena, both former state champs. Stillman Valley won 2A in 1999 and 2000 while Galena captured 1A in 1997 and played for the title in 1999.

Stillman Valley (11-1) beat Amboy-LaMoille Coop 21-0 in Class 3A and will face Tolono Unity (11-1) Saturday for the right to play for the state title. Tolono beat St. Joseph-Ogden 26-0 to advance.

Galena (9-3) moved on in Class 1A with a 17-0 victory over Ashton-Franklin Center Coop (9-3). The Pirates will face Monmouth Warren (11-1), a 37-14 winner over Annawan, in the semifinals.

Two other area teams, Sterling Newman and Burlington Central, were sent to the sidelines.

Newman was eliminated from the Class 2A chase, bowing to Gilman Iroquois West 22-18. The Comets finished 10-2 while Gilman advances with an 11-1 mark.

In a battle of Class 4A unbeatens, Burlington Central (11-1) came out on the short end of a 45-28 score against Addison Driscoll (12-0).

All eight state title games will be played Nov. 28-29 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign and will be televised live on the IHSA Television Network. This is the third season of eight classes.

A total of 556 teams began the 2003 season with a berth in the playoffs as their goal and 256 (46 percent) qualified for the playoffs.

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Popular Web Site: The Illinois High School Association said its Web site of attracted more than 2.2 million hits on Football Playoff Pairings night, peaking between 8 and 9 p.m. at 142 hits per second.

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Second Loss for NIU: Northern Illinois rallied for 17 points in the third quarter, but Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was just too good as he completed 24-of-27 passes for 301 yards and three scores to lead the Rockets to a 49-30 win over the Huskies in Toledo.

The Huskies (9-2, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) grabbed the nation’s attention just a few weeks ago while rising to No. 12 in the rankings, but they are in danger of not even getting a bowl bid.

They end their regular season Saturday at home against Eastern Michigan. Kickoff is slated for 1:05 p.m.

“If we are 10-2 or anybody in this league is 10-2 and we don’t go to a bowl game, that’s wrong,” said NIU head coach Joe Novak. “That’s where our bowl system is screwed up.”

The MAC has tie-ins with just two bowls—the Motor City Bowl and the GMAC Bowl—and right now No. 25 Bowling Green and No. 23 Miami of Ohio are in better shape than the Huskies. The loss all but eliminated them from a spot in the conference’s championship game.

Toledo (7-3, 5-1), which beat NIU for the 10th straight time, can get to its third straight MAC title game by winning its last two games, including the season-ender at No. 25 Bowling Green.

“We want to win the next game,” Novak said. “We still have quite a bit to play for. A win will give us the third 10-win season in school history and these kids deserve it. This team deserves so much credit. They have fought hard, and our only two loses have come on the road to two good teams.”

With the two losses, NIU dropped out of the top 25 in the both ESPN/USA Today coaches ratings and the Associated Press media poll.

Northern Illinois’ Michael Turner had 32 carries for 181 yards and a touchdown. “The Burner” went over the century mark for the 20th time in his career, tying fullback Mark Kellar for the most 100-yard rushing games in NIU history.

Turner moved into second all-time in MAC career rushing with 4,775 yards. He passed Toledo’s Chester Taylor (1998-2001) who finished his career with 4,659 yards.

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SIU Suffers First Loss: Southern Illinois suffered its first loss of the season as Tom Petrie passed for 422 yards and three touchdowns, including a two-yarder to Marlus Mays with 25 seconds left that gave Northern Iowa a 43-40 victory over the Salukis.

Northern Iowa (9-2, 6-1) rallied from a 40-28 deficit in the final 6 1/2 minutes to claim the Gateway Conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. Southern Illinois (10-1, 6-1) is expected to receive an at-large bid to the playoffs.

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Kory Chapman rushed for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Jacksonville State past Eastern Illinois 36-24, keeping the Gamecocks (7-3, 6-1) ahead in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Travis Glasford ran for four touchdowns as Western Illinois defeated Southwest Missouri State 63-42. Glasford finished with 230 yards rushing on 29 carries for Western Illinois (8-3. 5-2). Southwest Missouri is 4-7, 1-6.

Sha-Ron Edwards ran for two touchdowns as Illinois State beat Indiana State 38-3. Leading 10-3 at the half, Illinois State (6-6, 3-4 Gateway Conference) pulled away with touchdown runs of 2 and 22-yards by Edwards. Edwards finished with 199 yards on 33 carries.

In other games involving Illinois teams, Wheaton edged Augustana 28-27; Illinois Wesleyan beat Millikin 49-31; Carthage topped North Park 21-3, and Lake Forest downed Ripon 30-27.

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Title Game Saturday: Ohio State survived another close call with a 16-13 victory over No. 10 Purdue in Columbus, Ohio.

The victory keeps the Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1) tied with No. 5 Michigan for the Big Ten lead heading into their showdown Saturday in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines (9-2, 6-1) beat Northwestern 41-10.

Purdue (8-3, 5-2) lost its sixth in a row to the Buckeyes in Columbus. Ohio State, the defending national champion, kept alive its streak of winning close calls. The Buckeyes were 7-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less a year ago and are 5-1 this season—the lone setback a 17-10 loss in the rain at Wisconsin.

Ohio State’s Mike Nugent kicked a 36-yard field goal to open the overtime and watched Ben Jones miss from 37 yards out as the fourth-ranked Buckeyes kept alive their national title hopes. The Buckeyes won their first national title since 1968 last season, capped by a triple-overtime win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan can secure at least its first Rose Bowl berth since 1997 with a home triumph in the 100th meeting with Ohio State.

In other Big Ten games, No. 20 Iowa beat No. 19 Minnesota 40-22; Penn State got its first league win by dumping Indiana 52-7; and Wisconsin surprised Michigan State 56-21.

Other Saturday games, in addition to Ohio State-Michigan, have Northwestern (5-6, 3-4) at Illinois (1-10, 0-7); Iowa (8-3, 4-3) at Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3); Purdue at Indiana (2-9, 1-6); and Penn State (3-8, 1-6) at Michigan State (7-4, 4-3).

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EPC Fourth in State: Eastland-Pearl City finished fourth in the Class A girls’ state volleyball tourney, losing twice, 25-21, 24-17 to Wheaton St. Francis in the semifinals and 25-18, 25-18 to Bloomington Central Catholic in the third-place game.

St. Francis won the Class A title while perennial football power Joliet Catholic captured the Class AA crown.

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Packers in Contention: Even though they are just a .500 team at 5-5, the Green Bay Packers still are alive for a playoff spot. They beat Tampa Bay 20-13 while NFC North leader Minnesota was losing at Oakland 28-18. The Vikings now are 6-4, only one game ahead of Green Bay.

This Sunday the Packers will be home to San Francisco while the 3-7 Bears play at Denver. The Bears lost to St. Louis 23-21 in Soldier Field on Jeff Wilkins’ 31-yard field goal with 38 seconds left.

The Bears (should we start using the adjective hapless?) led 14-3 at the half. But the Rams turned it around in the second half, even though Chicago managed to fight ba

ck to lead 21-20 with 5:58 left.

The Bears were scoreless again in the first quarter and have managed only nine points in the opening period all season.

Brett Favre, playing with a broken right thumb and shrugging off five years of futility at Raymond James Stadium, led a 98-yard second-half drive that dealt the Bucs (4-6) their third straight loss.

The victory was Favre’s 120th as a starter, moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas into sole possession of fourth on the career list behind John Elway (148), Dan Marino (147) and Fran Tarkenton (125).

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