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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 29, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Unicorn quarterback Zach Rhodes looks for a receiver. SPORTSThursday, December 29, 2005 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 5A Herald-Zeitung COMING SUNDAY \ f a»- ■ Best in football The H -Z’s all-Comal County grid teams. To have your sports event publicized, contact Will Wright at 625-9144, ext. 223, or by e-mail at [email protected] Armstrong named top male athlete AUSTIN (AP) — Lance Armstrong takes fewer bike rides these days. He even describes himself as out of shape since retiring after his seventh consecutive Tour de France victory in July But he remains unbeatable. Armstrong was honored Wednesday as The Associated Press Melle Athlete of the Year for the fourth straight year. He is the only athlete to be selected by sports writers four times since the honor first was awarded in 1931. Armstrong received 30 of the 83 votes cast. I leisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush of Southern California was second with 23 votes, and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was third with eight, followed by tennis star Roger Federer and golf’s Tiger Woods with seven each. “It’s nice to win,” Armstrong said. “ITI never win again.” No, he won t. Not unless his new hobby of kiteboard-ing — yep, think of a small surfboard or ski attached to a kite — becomes a mainstream sport. “I may have to take up golf,” he said. "Take on Tiger.” Also Wednesday, Annika Sorenstam was selected as the AP Female Athlete of the Year. The 34-year-old Armstrong retired after deciding there were no more mountains to conquer on his bike. “I’d hoped to go out on top,” he said. “As a sportsman it’s really hard to do, to time it right.” T he Texan calls his 2005 season “a dream.” I lis final Tour was another dominant performance — he won by the comfortable margin of 4 minutes, 40 seconds. Stepping off the winner’s podium for the final time, his goal was to kick back “with a beer, having a blast” and play with his three young children from his first marriage. But it wasn’t long before things turned sour. In August, barely a month after he stepped into the Parisian twilight, the French sports daily L’Equipe reported that six urine samples Armstrong provided during his first Tour win in 1999 tested positive for the red blood cell booster EPO. It was the most serious challenge to the legacy of an athlete who survived testicular cancer, which spread to his lungs and brain, to become one of the most inspirational athletes of his generation. HE DAILY -l-C-K-E-T Rangers begin 26-5A Smithson Valley boys begin league play in second game of DH vs. Churchill. Time: 7:30 p.m. Cowboys throw Hail Mary Dallas hopes to keep its playoff hopes alive| when St. Louis visits in season finale. Time: 7:30p.m. (ESPN) Texans play in Bush Bowl Houston visits San Francisco knowing a loss would guarantee a date with Reggie Bush. Time: 3:30 p.m. Nebraska rallies past Michigan to capture Alamo Bowl SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Zac Taylor threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Nunn with 4:29 left as Nebraska overcame a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat No. 20 Michigan 32-28 in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night. The game ended on a bizarre play, with Michigan's Chad Henne throwing a short pass and his teammates later-aling no fewer than five times up and down the field before the play fizzled out with many extra players and coaches on the field. The Huskers (8-4) won the Alamo for the third time in six years and finished a season with three straight victories for the first time since 1999. The loss spoiled an outstanding performance by Henne, who threw three touchdown passes and also ran for a score. His 7-yard scramble with 11:40 left gave the Wolverines a 28-17 lead. But Nebraska used a long punt return and a turnover to end Michigan’s season with another disappointment. The Wolverines, ranked as high as No. 3 in September, finished 7-5, with their losses coming by a combined 21 points. Cory Ross ran 28 times for 161 yards, including a 31 -yard touchdown that pulled Nebraska to 28-25 with 8:08 left. That score was set up by Cortney Grixby’s 28-yard punt return to the Michigan 38. The I luskers took the lead after Henne fumbled and Ola Dagundaro returned the ball to the Michigan 17. Three plays later, Taylor connected with Nunn for his third touchdown pass and second to Nunn. Michigan drove to the Nebraska 18, but Zackary Bowman tipped away Henne’s fourth-down pass to Mario Manningham. Taylor was 14 of 31 for 167 vards, with two interceptions. ' Henne, 20-of-42 for 219 yards, erased a 17-14 deficit in the third quarter with a 21 -yard pass to Manningham. I lenne’s touchdown run made it 28-17. Nebraska, back at a bowl after having its NCAA-record mn of 35 straight postseason appearances end last year, ran its record to 5-0 in games at the Alamodome. The Huskers have won three bowls in San Antonio and two Big 12 championships. Mike Hart, who was injured most of the season, led Michigan with 74 yards on 19 carries. The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, and Michigan benefited from a third-quarter video review that overturned a Nebraska touchdown and forced the I luskers to settle for Jordan Congdon’s 20-yard field goal. Taylor’s 3-yard pass to Nunn was disallowed when it was ruled that Nunn reeled in the ball after it hit the ground. The Wolverines then marched 58 yards in six plays to take a 21-17 lead. Henne completed passes of 12 and 18 yards, and got 15 more yards on Titus Adams’ rough-ing-the-passer penalty, before Henne hit Manningham for a touchdown. Nebraska opened the scoring when Nunn caught a quick slant pass from Taylor, slipped out of Brandon Harrison's grasp and finished a 52-yard touchdown play. Steve Breaston returned the kickoff an Alamo Bowl-record 69 yards to the 30, and five plays later it was 7-all after I lenne threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyler licker. After his first TD pass to Nunn, Taylor missed on eight straight attempts and was intercepted twice on consecutive plays by Leon Hall. Taylor’s first interception in 85 attempts over three games set up Michigan at the Nebraska 39, but Garrett Rivas missed a 25-yard field goal. Up, then down for Canyon After opening win, Cougarettes struggle against No. 2 DeSoto From staff reports The Canyon girls basketball team opened the Bastrop Tournament with a 55-29 victory over Smithville, but then the Cougarettes ran into the second-ranked 5A team in the state. Canyon was unable to match-up with the DeSoto Eagles, falling 79-20. Canyon used a dominant defensive effort to pound Smithville in tile opener. The Cougarettes jumped in front 11-5 after one quarter and held Smithville to just two baskets in the second to take a 26-9 lead at the half. Katie Koriath led the Cougarettes with 15 points. Joan Friesenhahn added 13, Kendra Clayton had 11, Bo Warm scored 8 and Kristen Mueller had six. DeSoto was simply too much in the nightcap, opening a 29-8 lead after one quarter and a 45-15 advantage at the half. Clayton led the Cougarettes with six points in the game while Friesenhahn had four. Canyon will face Flour Bluff at 3 p.m. today. Canyon 67, St John’s 60 OT After seeing a 14-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, the Canyon boys basketball team regrouped to beat St. Johns in the opening round of the Houston Second Baptist Eagle Holiday Classic. Canyon (14-1) found itself down by four at halftime but rallied to take tile lead by four after three quarters. In the fourth, the Cougars went up 14 before shooting problems at the free throw line and a flurry of three-pointers by St. Johns made the game close. As the final seconds ticked off, St. John’s missed a three-pointer but got the offensive rebound and tied the game as the buzzer sounded. In the extra period, Canyon hit 7 of Herald-Zeitung file photo Canyon guard Bo Warm moves the ball up the court during a game earlier this season.The Cougarettes split two games in the Bastrop Tournament Wednesday. 12 free throws and limited St. Johns to a single basket to take the win. Isaiah Jackson led the Cougars with 22 points. In his first game back from injury, Austin New pitched in with 18 and Matt Zachary and Cody Conving-ton had eight each. The Cougars will face Houston IICYA at 4 p.m. today. New Braunfels 78, Pleasanton 48 Four Unicorns scored in double fig ures Tuesday as the New Braunfels boys basketball team thrashed Pleasanton 78-48. Shane Fisher scored 16 points, Tony Valadez scored 11, Mitchell Lawrence had ll and Spencer Jergins had IO for New Braunfels (5-12). Abel Campos scored 27 to lead Pleasanton (5-11). New Braunfels will return to District 27-4A play at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Lake Travis. This year, Texas hopes trip to Rose Bowl brings national title BEVERLY I HEES, (Mf. (AP) —Tile exas Longhorns arrived in California ist year feeling unwanted, dismissed ly their West (Coast hosts as tile swagging braggarts who bumped the •ac-IO out of the “Granddaddy” of (owl games. Things certainly have changed rith their return. Texas is being welcomed with ipen arms, or least as warmly as ould be expected in the hometown if Rose Bowl opponent Southern Cal, and the only thing everyone’s alking about this year is the natchup unbeaten college football itans. “It’s the matchup everybody wanted since last year,” Longhorns coach Mack Brown said before his team broke for Christmas break in Austin. “The two teams have the responsibility to make sure the game lives up to its billing.” The Longhorns finished practice on Dec. 22 with instructions for the team to meet at its hotel by Wednesday night Practice resumes Thursday morning and the ceremonial pregame countdown begins with both teams being welcomed at Disneyland. Tens of thousands of Texans will be pouring into the Los Angeles area over the next week to give Hollywood a distinctive bumt-orange hue. Many of diem came last year for the novelty of watching their team playing in the Rose Bowl. They hope this trip will end with Texas’ first national championship in 36 years. “We all said our ultimate goal was to get back there and win,” defensive tackle Frank Okam said. “You could see each piece of the puzzle fitting into place. The biggest piece is still sitting out there and that’s the national championship.” Last season, the Trojans played in the BCS title game in the Orange Bowl in Miami, 2,700 miles and three times zones away. With the Trojans practicing and playing within a few miles from home for this one, the Longhorns expeci a circus of celebrities and media hype around the game. “It’s going to be a Super Bowl-type atmosphere,” defensive end Brian Robison said. The Longhorns earned their Rose Bowl berth by going 12-0 for the first time in school history. They started the season ranked No. 2 and kept pace with No. I Southern Cal by winning at Ohio State, beating Oklahoma for the first time in six years and averaging 50.9 points per game. Like most their games, Cowboys’ season comes down to the end IRVING (AP) — T he Dallas Cowboys go into their final game still uncertain about the season’s outcome. Will they make the playoffs or not? That’s just like most of their games this season, when they didnt know if they would win or lose until the last few minutes. “This last game will just epitomize the whole season,” linebacker Brache James said. "It’s been going down to the wire. You definitely couldn’t have too many heart conditions to watch our games.” Dallas (9-6), which plays its regular-season finale Sunday night against St. Louis, has played an NFL-high 11 games decided by seven points or less. The game-deciding points in nine of those games were scored with 3:06 or less left in regulation — two of them in overtime. The Cowboys have won six of their close games (all by four points or less), twice scoring touchdowns in the final 24 seconds. T hat included Drew Bledsoe’s 2-yard TD pass to Terry Glenn in Saturday’s 24-20 victory at Carolina that kept them in playoff contention. TWo Dallas victories were sealed by interceptions in the final minute, including Aaron Glenn in the end zone in the season-opening 28-24 win at San Diego. The Cowboys lost twice on last-play field goals. “It’s not really a bad thing,” coach Bill Parcells said. “Your team can eventually train itself to reduce the pressure feeling when you’re in enough of these games. ... It can be very beneficial to be in hard-fought games all the time.” T he Cowboys will know before they kick off the NFEs final game of the regular season if they have a chance to get in the playoff s — of if they are just playing for their second IO-win season in three years under Parcells. There are 13 different possibilities for Dallas to get in as one of the NFC wild cards. All tile scenarios are contingent on a victory over the struggling Rams (5-10), who have lost four straight and six of seven. T he least complex is for Carolina (at Atlanta) or Washington (at Philadelphia) to lose earlier Sunday. “We're in Week 17, and we’ve got a chance to do something," Parcells said. lf tile Cowboys make the playoffs, they won t give a second thought to all their close games. But if they don’t make it to the postseason, the near-misses will be all they remember. “If we don’t get in, we have nobody to blame but ourselves,” tight end Dan Campbell said. “We had our chances. We had our chance to beat New York at New York for the division lead.” After falling behind 17-0 against the Giants on Dec. 4, when they were tied atop the NFC East, the Cowboys got within 17-10. But Drew Bledsoe threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted with 1:47 left, leaving Dallas with its fifth loss of the season by a touchdown or less. ;