Sports Briefs 12-6-13

GARY FINEOUT Associated Press Published:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A prosecutor's decision to not bring charges against Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite Jameis Winston has removed a cloud from over the team, which is focused and prepared to face Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, Coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Winston is ACC player of the year and the leader in the Heisman race. Many voters were waiting to see whether he would be charged before casting their ballot with the deadline approaching Monday. State Attorney Willie Meggs told a news conference Thursday there was not enough evidence to win a conviction against Winston, mostly because there were too many gaps in his accuser's story.

Winston, 19, practiced as usual Thursday and traveled with the team to Charlotte in the evening. There are no more doubts about his availability for the ACC title game and he is scheduled to be on the field for a bowl game. Florida State is heavily favored against Duke (10-2) and a win puts the Seminoles in the BCS championship game.

• Football

H.S. player dies: Arizona officials have determined that a high school football player who collapsed on the field last month died of blunt force trauma to his head. The Maricopa County medical examiner's office released its finding Thursday in the death of the 17-year-old Hopi High School senior who took a hard fall during the fourth quarter of a Nov. 9 game and later died in Phoenix hospital.

Charles Youvella had scored his team's only touchdown in a 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran Academy in the state playoffs.

UCF gets BCS bid: No. 15 UCF qualified for the school's first BCS bid with Louisville's victory over Cincinnati.

The Knights wrapped up at least a share of the first American Athletic Conference championship last week. The league's automatic BCS bid was locked up Thursday night when the 19th-ranked Cardinals beat the Bearcats 31-24 in overtime.

Two more sue NCAA: Two former Missouri football players are suing the NCAA in federal court over the lingering effects of head injuries they say they suffered decades ago, joining a cascade of recent lawsuits against college sports' governing body related to traumatic brain injuries.

Tony VanZant and Sharron Washington, a pair of former St. Louis area prep stars, filed the suit Tuesday in Missouri's eastern federal district.

Extension possible: Missouri athletic director Mike Alden addressed the likelihood coach Gary Pinkel will be sought for the Washington opening, raising the possibility of a contract extension after the season.

Campbell cleared: Browns quarterback Jason Campbell has been cleared to practice after sustaining a concussion and could play Sunday against New England if cleared by a neurologist.

• Basketball

Huskies hold on for win: Darrell Bowie scored six of his 12 points in the final four minutes and Northern Illinois held on to defeat Dartmouth 64-57 Thursday night.

Jordan Threloff scored 11 points. Pete Rakocevic added 10 for the Huskies.

Wright State falls: Richard Pack scored 15 points and Lamont Middleton added 14 as North Carolina A&T edged Wright State 62-59 on Thursday night.

Matt Vest led Wright State with 15 points.

• Elsewhere

Johnson leads: Zach Johnson birdied four of the par 5s and shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Thursday over Matt Kuchar in the World Challenge.

Tiger Woods had a new driver in the bag and missed only two fairways. The problem was his putter, including a short birdie attempt that missed on the last hole. He had a 71.

Earnhardt Jr. sets record: Dale Earnhardt Jr. set a record Thursday with his 11th consecutive win as NASCAR's most popular driver. Earnhardt, who was presented with the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award at the annual Myers Brothers luncheon, broke a tie with 16-time winner Bill Elliott for the most consecutive years as winner.

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