December 18, 2006


Vikings can’t stop Pennington


Associated Press/Ann Heisenfelt
Though Chad Pennington lost this fumble after being sacked by Minnesota linebacker Napoleon Harris (58) Sunday, the New York Jets quarterback threw for 339 yards in 26-13 win over the Vikings.

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS — Chad Pennington helped the New York Jets bounce back with a career game. The Minnesota Vikings could only wish for stability like that with their current situation at quarterback.
Pennington kept the Jets in the running for a playoff spot, completing 29 of 39 passes for a personal-best 339 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 26-13 victory over the Vikings on Sunday.
Pennington has had an up-and-down season coming off a second major shoulder surgery, but he has played every week for New York (8-6) — establishing a career high with 14 starts.
“That’s what it’s all about in this league, being available for your team and hopefully being blessed enough that you can stay healthy and stay away from those injuries,” Pennington said. “I am so blessed and fortunate to be healthy.”
On the other side, Brad Johnson got benched for the third time this season. Rookie Tarvaris Jackson livened up a sedated crowd with his first touchdown pass, guiding Minnesota (6-8) on another long drive before being intercepted in the end zone with his team trailing by 13 and less than two minutes left.
“I thought we needed a spark there and a change, and that’s why Tarvaris went in,” said coach Brad Childress, who didn’t name a starter for Thursday’s game at Green Bay.
After losing 31-13 last week to Buffalo, the Jets made coach Eric Mangini smile with a good week of practice and an all-around impressive effort to improve to 5-2 on the road in his first year.
Laveranues Coles had 12 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown, and Mike Nugent kicked four field goals to stretch his streak of makes to 13.
“This was a big game for us — and an even bigger game as far as our mentality and our attitude after you suffer a setback like we did last week,” Pennington said.
The Vikings, who lost for the sixth time in eight games, had a chance to thrust themselves into the wide-open NFC wild-card race. Instead, it was the same old story for a team that has proven wrong the maxim that stopping the run and running the ball well leads to success.
“Mathematically, we’re still in it,” Childress said.
Depends on the perspective.
“Mathematically, that’s a miracle,” said receiver Travis Taylor, who caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Johnson barely two minutes into the game following a jarring, blind-side sack of Pennington by Napoleon Harris that caused a fumble.
After that, Minnesota was completely outschemed. New York didn’t bother running the ball much until late, as most opponents have approached the league’s best rushing defense. But Pennington took what he was given, faking a handoff nearly every time and favoring soft, short throws to slowly move the ball upfield. Coles consistently found openings underneath the coverage.
“That’s Chad around the clock,” Coles said. “Y’all got an opportunity to see how Chad functions when he has the ball in his hands. When he gets going in a rhythm, he throws a nice ball and guys can make plays.”
The Vikings were done in by third downs, letting the Jets convert on seven of 14 chances and moving the chains twice in 13 opportunities themselves.
“We have too many good players to be in the position we’re in,” safety Darren Sharper said. “That’s the most disappointing thing.”
Johnson, who went 10-for-17 for 96 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers, was sacked three times for 28 yards. In the first half, the Vikings had as many first downs as punts (four) and totaled only 91 yards on 24 plays. Though the offensive problems went far beyond Johnson, the Metrodome crowd began booing every time he started a new drive. To the chant “We want Jackson!” the frustrated fans got their wish at the end of the third quarter — confirming as much with a roaring standing ovation.
Jackson, a second-round pick out of Alabama State, completed a 35-yard screen pass to Mewelde Moore with 6:15 left. He finished 14-for-23 for 177 yards.
Notes: Coles was taken for X-rays on an apparent back injury, but he was walking fine. Neither Coles nor Mangini specified the nature or severity of his condition. ... The Jets are 6-1 all-time against Minnesota. ... Chester Taylor returned from bruised ribs and gained 38 yards on 11 carries for the Vikings, but sprained his wrist and went for X-rays. ... Cedric Houston rushed 21 times for 53 yards and a touchdown for New York.


Dryden boys keep rolling along

DRYDEN — “The kids are doing what is needed to succeed.” Those were the words Dryden basketball coach Dan Miller used to describe the hot start of his Purple Lion boys. Dryden improved to 5-1 overall but, more importantly, remain undefeated in Interscholastic Athletic Conference play after a 52-42 Division I over visiting Waverly Saturday. 
In another Saturday contest, Odessa-Montour stopped Elmira Heights Edison 46-35.
In IAC girls play, Waverly dumped 48-27, Lansing rolled over Groton 51-18 and Watkins Glen tripped Trumansburg 26-23.
Dryden 52, Waverly 42: Dryden (2-0 Division I, 4-0 IAC) set the tempo throughout the first half by holding the visiting Wolverines to 15 points. The Purple Lions led 10-7 in the first quarter and 28-15 by halftime.
Waverly cut the deficit to 35-26 by the end of the third quarter and closed to within four points. The home team maintained its poise and built the final margin back to 10 points
“The guys continue to work hard,” said Miller. “We are beating the teams that we are evenly matched against.”
Tim Finnerty continued his strong play inside and led the Purple Lions with a game-high 20 points. The rest of the scoring was again balanced. Chris Streeter scored eight points, Jordan Minnis seven and Rob Solveson six were just part of the addition help.
The bulk of the Waverly scoring came from Mark Kuzma, who also netted 20 points.
Dryden will return to Division I play Tuesday as the Purple Lions travel to Elmira Notre Dame. Watkins Glen will come to Dryden Friday evening.
“We will get a good chance to see where we really are,” said Miller. “We are playing two of the best teams in the division this week.”
Dryden 49, Newark Valley 37: Dryden coach Joanne Holland got her first look at her former player Saturday afternoon and Waverly was glad to have one of the tallest girls in the IAC on their side.
With two of the top scorers away for the day, junior center Shannon Seager scored 23 points to lead Waverly (2-0 division, 5-0 IAC & overall) to a 48-27 win over visiting Dryden (0-2, 1-4 IAC & overall). Seager pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked six of her former teammates shots to aid in the victory.
Waverly led 14-5 after the first quarter and rolled to a 28-11 advantage by halftime.
Megan Leary added 10 points to the winning Wolverine offensive attack.
Mary Holland paced Dryden High with_13 points with Jessica Bush chipping in with eight points.
Dryden will return to Division I play Tuesday when the Purple Lions host Elmira Notre Dame.
Lansing 51, Groton 18: Randi Lyn Randall scored 12 points with eights points each from Kendal Dean and Katie Fenner as Lansing rolled to the easy Division III win. In all, eight of nine Bobcat (2-0 division, 4-1 league & overall) players scored for the winners.
Ellen Reed topped the Groton (0-1, 2-2, 2-4) scoring list with nine points.



Trojans take 7th at tough tourney

INDIAN RIVER — The competition was top-notch as Homer Central wrestlers traveled to the North Country Tournament Saturday at Indian River High School.
With the number of strong programs competing, the young Trojans were able to come away with a seventh-place team finish after scoring 54 points. Adirondack edged Peru 169-168 for the team title with Beaver River claiming third-place with 165 points. In fact, the top five schools were separated by a total of 19 points.
Individually, Mike DiOrio moved up from his customary 215-pound spot and competed in the 275-pound weight class. The Trojan senior held his own by reaching the championship match, where the third seed lost a narrow 2-0 decision to top-seed Ryan Stacey of Peru.
DiOrio scored a 7-0 decision over Jordin Benware from Malone in the quarterfinals before scoring a pin over second-seed Jordan MacDonald of Gouverneur at the 3:55 mark of the semifinal match.
Homer had three other wrestlers place in the top-six by the end of the busy day.
Trojan senior Mark Brenchley wrestled back to grab fourth place after falling to Brian Piarulli from Watertown IHC in the consolation finals at 152 pounds. Brenchley finished 2-2 on the day with both losses coming to Piarulli.  
Ben McBride placed sixth at 112 pounds after posting a 1-2 record, McBride was pinned by Justin Anderson of Carthage in 43 seconds in the bout for fifth-place.
Ryne Austin also posted a sixth-place effort at 160 pounds after posting a 2-3 record. Steve Smallidge pinned Austin in 3:15 during their fifth-place match.
Homer will return to OHSL Freedom Division action Friday when the Trojans travel to Fulton for a 6 p.m. dual match.