Grand Valley St. takes Division II title
FLORENCE, Ala. -- David Kircus was determined not to repeat last year's disappointment when Grand Valley State lost to North Dakota in the final minute of the Division II championship game.
Nobody panicked on the Lakers' sideline when Valdosta State scored 11 points in less than 30 seconds to tie Grand Valley State late in the fourth quarter Saturday.
Curt Anes threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kircus with 1:04 left to give Grand Valley State of Michigan its first NCAA Division II title with a 31-24 victory over Valdosta State of Georgia.
''This means a lot after last season,'' Kircus said. ''We set the goal at the beginning of the season to win the national championship and to see it come true is an unbelievable experience.''
Kircus caught 11 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns, extending his all-division record for TD receptions in a season to 35. He finished his career with 76 receiving touchdowns, a Division II record.
Mount Union goes for another DIII title
With Dan Pugh running at peak form, Mount Union of Ohio will go for a third straight NCAA Division III championship.
Pugh ran for a career-high 254 yards and five touchdowns as the Purple Raiders extended the nation's longest winning streak to 41 with a 57-19 victory over Ohio Conference rival John Carroll on Saturday.
Mount Union (13-0) will be trying for its seventh national title in 10 years when it plays Trinity of Texas (14-0) in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl next Saturday in Salem, Va. Trinity beat St. John's of Minnesota 41-34 in San Antonio.
''Going to Salem never gets old,'' Pugh said.
The Purple Raiders have won 95 of their last 96 games; their last defeat was to Rowan (N.J.) in the 1999 semifinals.
Rob Adamson added three touchdown passes and 225 yards for Mount Union, which struck quickly to begin each half, then used time-consuming drives to extend the lead.
America's Cup racing postponed
AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- High wind Sunday forced the postponement of the America's Cup challenger series semifinals for the third consecutive day.
Alinghi of Switzerland leads Oracle of San Francisco 3-0, and OneWorld of Seattle and Prada of Italy are tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven series.
Two shortened races, over 12 1/2 nautical miles instead of 18 1/2, have been scheduled Monday and Tuesday to make up for the loss of racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Yankees close to signing Zeile
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Todd Zeile and the New York Yankees are close to agreeing on a contract worth about $1.5 million.
General manager Brian Cashman said Saturday from baseball's winter meetings that he made an offer to Zeile's agents earlier this week.
''We approached this as a long shot,'' Cashman said. ''But we have a shot to make it happen. We still have some things to work out if it's going to get done. But I'm more optimistic about it than at the start of the process.''
A baseball source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was almost completed. Zeile would also get performance bonuses in the contract, the source said.
Zeile would replace Ron Coomer as the Yankees' backup at third base and first base and would also get time as a right-handed designated hitter. Zeile's playing time could increase if the Yankees deal Nick Johnson to Montreal for one of the Expos' starting pitchers.
Zeile, who spent two years in New York as a Met, batted .273 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs for the Colorado Rockies last season.
Yankees manager Joe Torre is close to Zeile, having managed him in St. Louis. Cashman asked Torre for a report on Zeile and had the manager place a call to his former player earlier this week.
''I asked Joe about it and he thought it would be a terrific idea,'' Cashman said.
Zeile has been a full-time player most of his 14-year career but the Yankees were upfront with him, saying he wouldn't have a starting role.
But Cashman said the 37-year-old Zeile appeared interested in playing on a winning team for Torre. Zeile has a .268 career average with 233 homers and 1,033 RBIs.
After coming up as a catcher, Zeile has played most of his career at third base. The Mets, however, used him at first because they had Robin Ventura at third base. Zeile is very close to Ventura, who is with the Yankees now.
Cashman also talked with the agent for Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui on Saturday and was planning a second meeting with Montreal general manager Omar Minaya.
The Expos are looking to cut payroll and the Yankees are interested in pitchers Bartolo Colon and Javier Vazquez.
''We're a conversation or two from knowing whether we have a match or not on anything,'' Cashman said.
If the Yankees were able to acquire one of Montreal's pitchers, it might mean the end of Roger Clemens' career in pinstripes. Clemens is a free agent and the Yankees already have six starters under contract.
''He wants to stay and we'd like him to stay,'' Cashman said. ''Whether that happens remains to be seen.''
Cashman is under orders from owner George Steinbrenner to cut this year's payroll of about $135 million, by far the highest in the major leagues.
The Yankees estimate they will have to pay $55 million in revenue sharing and luxury tax next year, up from about $33 million they gave other teams this year.
But New York's rivals aren't counting on any major changes in the Yankees' approach.
''The Yankees are still awfully good,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. ''Whether they cut payroll or not -- I'll believe it when I see it.''
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