Sports Briefs, Oct. 1-2, 2011

Posted Oct. 03, 2011, at 12:42 a.m.

Bears’ Hester returns record 11th punt for TD

CHICAGO — Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears has set an NFL record with his 11th career punt return for a touchdown, running one back 69 yards against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Tied with Eric Metcalf coming in, Hester took over the record early in the second quarter when he fielded a line drive by Jason Baker.

Hester broke a tackle and turned up the left side, performing three somersaults after crossing the goal line for a 24-10 lead. He was also flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The big punt return came moments after he returned a kickoff 73 yards, setting up a 17-yard scoring run by Matt Forte.

A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Hester is the league’s all-time leader for combined touchdowns on kick returns with 15.

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Woods falls out of top 50 in world golf ranking

LONDON — Tiger Woods is out of the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Woods, who hasn’t won in nearly two years, was assured of dropping from the top 50 when Louis Oosthuizen finished in a three-way tie for fifth in the Dunhill Links Championship.

That ends a streak of 778 consecutive weeks inside the top 50, dating to when Woods was No. 61 on Oct. 13, 1996.

Woods, who has not played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, returns to competition this week at the Frys.com Open at CordeValle in northern California.

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Big East OKs ‘aggressive’ pursuit of expansion

WASHINGTON — The presidents and chancellors of the 14 remaining Big East members and TCU have authorized Commissioner John Marinatto to “aggressively pursue discussions” with certain schools interested in joining the league.

The league released a statement after the meeting Sunday at Georgetown University. The meeting had been scheduled before Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced last month they will leave the conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss the conference’s upcoming television rights negotiations, but the defections forced expansion onto the agenda.

“The presidents voted unanimously to authorize the commissioner to aggressively pursue discussions with a select number of institutions that have indicated a strong interest in joining the Big East Conference,” Marinatto said in a statement.

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Andre Ward has stitches removed from right eye

OAKLAND, Calif. — WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward said Sunday he is feeling much better after having stitches removed from above his right eye and is looking forward to his rescheduled fight against Carl Froch in the Super Six super middleweight tournament final.

Ward and Froch were slated to meet Oct. 29 in Atlantic City, N.J., before Ward was injured in training last month. He had seven stitches removed Friday, but the fight was rescheduled for Dec. 17.

Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), who is from Oakland, is the WBA’s 168-pound champion. Froch (28-1, 20 KOs), from Nottingham, England, holds the WBC super middleweight belt.

Ward and Froch dominated the six-man 168-pound tournament backed by premium network Showtime, eliminating favorites Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham on the way to the final.

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Georgia LB Washington suspended after arrest

COMMERCE, Ga. — Georgia linebacker Cornelius Washington was suspended Sunday for at least two games following his arrest and charge with driving under the influence and speeding.

Coach Mark Richt said athletic association policy states that student-athletes will be suspended for at least 20 percent of their competitions following DUI arrests.

“It will be at least that,” Richt said.

Washington’s suspension will begin with this week’s game at Tennessee.

“It’s a setback, but I don’t know if it will deter us from playing hard and playing well,” Richt said. “It’s going to give someone else an opportunity to play well.”

The Commerce Police Department’s incident report said Washington was stopped at 1:48 a.m. Sunday for driving a Dodge Journey at 92 mph in a 55 mph zone. The officer said in the report that the 22-year-old said he had been drinking, but “it had been several hours prior.”

It says Washington failed a series of field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol reading of 0.12 percent on a breath test. The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08.

— From Wire Reports

Items of local interest can be faxed to the BDN at 990-8092 or e-mailed to bdnsports@bangordailynews.com

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