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Lancaster New Era from Lancaster, Pennsylvania • Page 21
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Lancaster New Era from Lancaster, Pennsylvania • Page 21

Lancaster New Erai
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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ma SPORTS Classified C-9 MONDAY MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24,1997 I NEW ERA Mhmd reviews am Jwdgjmeoira: Day Eagles look much better with Hoying in lineup Where has this team been all season? BILL LYON Sports Columnist Kmqht-Ridder News Service PHILADELPHIA He doesn't play on special teams, but since he became a starter theyre playing better. He doesnt play on the offensive line, but since he became a starter its playing better. He doesnt play on defense, but since he became a starter its playing better. In short, the Eagles look like a different team altogether with Bobby Hoying as their quarterback. In only his second NFL start, the poised and unawed rookie took another measurable step forward on Sunday So did the Eagles.

Hoying stood in against the Pittsburgh Steelers sophisticated, blitz-happy defense, which is designed to befuddle and unnerve young quarterbacks, and he looked neither befuddled or unnerved. And the Birds got themselves the most pleasant kind of win there is, the one that is totally unexpected, against an obviously superior opponent. Honk if you had this one as a W. Frankly, the best I thought the Birds could hope for is the kid doesnt get killed. Instead, he makes magic.

So, amazingly enough, the Birds are not dead yet. A playoff wild card is still within their sweaty, underachieving grasp. And with Hoying spinning gold, having produced a tie and a win in his first two chances, you are now reluctant to dismiss them quite so easily. A hot QB can make up for a lot of deficiencies. And heaven knows the Birds are riddled with those.

Of course, the better Hoying plays, the worse Ray Rhodes looks. How could the coach have been so wrong about Ty Detmer and then so wrong about Rodney Peete, and, finally, wrongest of all about Bobby Hoying? These nettlesome questions may have accounted for Rhodes decided lack of enthusiasm when asked to appraise Hoyings performance on Sunday. Then again, perhaps Rhodes, knowing he has a 5-6-1 team, doesnt want them getting full of themselves. And it may be that he doesnt want Hoy-inggetting too inflated. There should be no worry there.

The kid is remarkably composed, whether hunkered behind center or being grilled. He is so taken with himself that he showed up for his postgame media session wearing jeans and a dark blue sweater and a red crease between his eyes, the telltale scar of a helmet jam. The 10-game apprenticeship he served this season just observing was, he says, worth its weight in quarterback sacks. "Just seeing what the starting quarterback goes through around here, that was eye-opening, he said. You try not to become too rhapsodic here.

His career is only nine quarters old. There is, relatively speaking, not much pressure on him, certainly not the sort of load that will be dumped on him next season when he is the franchise. In contrast to Detmer and Peete, he can play without having to look over his shoulder, waiting for Rhodes famously quick hook. And the league doesnt have a book on him yet. Still, having invoked all those cautionary provisos, let me say this: The kid outplayed Slash More HOYING on C-6 1 by Phil Sheridan I Knight-Ridder News Service i PHILADELPHIA File this 1 one under for What Might Have Been.

The team the Eagles were sup- posed to be, the one coach Ray Rhodes called his most talented, materialized on Sunday out of the fog of a lost season. The team that beat Pittsburgh had little but its uniforms in common with the team that has shown up for most i of this season. The real Eagles or were these the imposters? put to-j gether an excellent effort to beat the playoff-bound Steelers, 23-20, I before 67,166 well-behaved fans at Veterans Stadium. 1 With second-year quarterback Bobby Hoying taking another step toward stardom, the Eagles jumped to an early lead and let I their steady defense take care of the rest. The victory, their first since Oct.

26, left them more per- plexed than excited. When you look at this team, safety Michael Zordich said, we have so many playmakers. It was frustrating. Today, we broke out a little bit. But weve been in a desperate situation the last three weeks, and we didnt handle it extremely well against San Francisco and Baltimore the last two weeks.

"I hope this is a sign of things to come, running back Ricky Watters said. Its been frustrating all season, but you cant go back. You cant change anything. I do still want to see the playoffs, though. At 5-6-1, the Eagles are still long shots to reach the postseason.

They gained a half-game on the Dallas Cowboys, who dropped to 6-6 with a loss in Green Bay, but they are in fourth place in the NFC East and 10th in the race for the six NFC playoff spots. We have to win out, Watters said. We cant afford to lose an-otherone. Hoying was clearly the star of this game, playing with remarkable poise and outshining Kordell Stewart, Pittsburghs up-and-coming quarterback. He threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, one to Jason Dunn and another to Irving Fryar, to stake the Eagles to a 14-0 lead.

Playing with a lead was huge, center Steve Everitt said. Ricky broke a big run, and Bobby made a couple of big throws, and it seemed to put (the Steelers) on their heels a little bit. Just for the sake of perspective: The 14 points were not only the most the Eagles had scored in any first quarter this season, they were more than the Eagles had scored in four of their last five games. The first touchdown was set up by a turnover. On the Steelers second offensive play, Jerome Bettis, their super-deluxe-size running back, went careening up the middle.

Linebackers James Darling and William Thomas hit him. knocking the ball loose. Middle linebacker James Willis recovered at the Eagles 42-yard line. Packers end loss streak vs. Dallas with a romp by Jean-Jacques Taylor Knight-Ridder News Service GREEN BAY, Wis.

The Cheeseheads stood in unison oblivious to the 22-degree temperature and swirling wind cheering wildly and singing in honor of their beloved Green Bay Packers as they counted down the final minuteof a 45-17 victory. Who could blame them? After all, Dallas had beaten Green Bay seven times in the past four seasons, including three times in the playoffs. But all those games had been played at Texas Stadium. The Packer fans finally had the Cowboys on their turf, and they wanted to celebrate. The Packers ended an eight-game losing streak to Dallas on Sunday with a powerful display of textbook football that would have made legendary coach Vince Lombardi proud.

Dorsey Levens rushed for a team-record 190 yards and Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes as the Packers routed Dallas before 60,111 at venerable Lambeau Field. We got beat. We got beat bad, receiver Michael Irvin said. The last time I took a beating like that, my father gave it to me." The Cowboys experienced their worst regular-season loss since owner Jerry Jones first game in 1989, when New Orleans beat Dallas, 28-0. It was the most points the Cowboys have allowed in a regular-season game since 1985, when Cincinnati pounded Dallas, 50-24.

"Was it just another game? No, said Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren, whose team won the Super Bowl last season without having to face Dallas in the playoffs. "Like I said during the week, beating Dallas was one of those things we hadn't been able to do since Ive been here. Sunday was ourday. The loss drops Dallas to 6-6 and puts them in third place in the NFC East. The New York Giants (7-4) led the East by a game over Washington alter tying the Redskins 7-7 in their game Sunday night.

The Cowboys, who have not won more than two consecutive games this season, probably need to win More PACKERS on C-2 AP Photo Eagle quarterback Bobby Hoying fires a pass against the Steelers. The judge in the Vet basement kept most Eagles' fans in order While the Eagles and their Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Hoying were putting up 14 points in the first quarter, down in the basement, Philadelphias hanging judge, the honorable Seamus P. McCaffery dressed in his home-black robes was getting off to a quick start with the gavel as well. by Timothy Dwyer Knight-Ridder News Service PHILADELPHIA Well, it certainly was a crazy day at the Vet Sunday. In the corridor leading to the Philadelphia Eagles dressing room, signs warned everyone to keep their traps shut because court was in session.

On the field, the Eagles, who have been emotionally dead since the leaves on the trees were still green, came out and impersonated a real football team. They hit hard. They played emotionally. They made no mistakes and actually put points on the board. Afterward, in the locker rxm, players were searching for answers to why they can look so good against a team like Pittsburgh after playing pathetically for mostof autumn.

Im pretty sure thats what everyone wants to know, linebacker William Thomas said. The answer is obvious. The Eagles just play better in front of a sober crowd. They should move their home games to the Betty Ford Center. Up in the seats, Sunday was far dil ferent from that Monday night game against the San Francisco Pittsburgh Steelers tans, there had to be 10,000 of em, showed up dressed in their colors, armed with terrible towels, and roamed the Vet at will.

Most Eagles game days, that sort of brazenness will get you a beer shower for starters and thats just the warm-up. Swapping spit and punches usually follows. Not yesterday. While the Eagles and their Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Hoying were putting up 14 points in the More JUDGE on C-4 More EAGLES on C-6 Top 25 college fnnfhall nnll football poll first place votes 4' 73 ,.4 2 LAST LAST Penn State seniors go out with a bang GREG GRASA Michigan is in control of national title chase by Andrew Bagnato ANN ARBOR, Mich. College hxitballs annual squabble over No.

1 often requires as much luck as talent. A year ago, Florida needed Nebraska to lose to Texas in the Big 12 title game before the Gators could be admitted to the Sugar Bowl, where they beat Florida State toelaim the national championship. This year, Michigan did everything it could on the field, but it also caught two important late-season breaks. The first came when Nebraska required a luke play to deteat Missouri, a close call that cost the Cornhuskers their No. 1 ranking.

The second came Saturday evening when the twice-beaten Gators stunned Florida St ate in Tallahassee. That upset knocked the Semmoles trom atop the USA Today ESPN coaches poll. On Sunday voters in both major polls gave a resounding endorsement to the 1 1-0 Wolverines, who are poised to grab their hrst national title since 1948. and the Big Tens tirsl since 1968. In the AP media rankings, Michigan was No.

1 on 69 of 70 ballots. In the coaches poll, Michigan picked up 46 ol 59 1 irst -place votes, The other lirst-place votes went to Nebraska, winch closes the regular season Friday at Colorado and then laces Texas in the Big 12 title game Dec. 6. Three years ago. Big Ten boosters griped that the nation's oldest major conlereuce would never be able to win the national football tit le.

For proof, they pointed to unbeaten but uncrowned Penn State. Nebraska wound up No. 1 in both polls in 1994, well ahead ol the second-ranked Nittany Lions. There were whispers that the pollsters were somehow biased against the Big Ten because it wasn't a lull participant the bowl alii More MICHIGAN on C-5 New Fra Sixuls Writer UNIVERSITY PARK The Nittany Lion mascot was on one knee in the south end zone of Beaver Stadium, proposing to a Penn State baton twirler. And she said yes, to the delight ol 96,934 tans.

It wasthat kind of day Saturday in Happy Valley. A day for seniors to celebrate and remember. Nick Indeglio, the senior who has been the man in the Lion suit lor the past tour years, will always remember the way he asked Christine Wolf to marry him. Just as the 16 departing seniors on the Penn State toot bull roster will always remember the way they went out in their lirial game at Beaver St ad mm. Those seniors, especially the 10 who were in the starting lineup, made their Beaver Stadium lure-well a memorable one with a 35-3 rout ol Wisconsin.

It was the Nittany Lions second straight im-ircssivc pertormance since their one loss ol the season, a 34-8 drub-bin" No. Mu lligan, and the decisive win brought them to the brink of a major bowl hid. Penn State (9-1) climbed to No. 4 in the national rankings and most likely will be invited to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 if it can close out its regular season next Saturday with a victory at Michigan State.

"We know hat's at stake and a lot depended on how things More PENN STATE on C-4 ttnAi.

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