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MIAMI'S FAST START BURIES PITTSBURGH

Clinton Portis scored on three short runs set up by Ken Dorsey's precision passing and No. 1 Miami, showing no rust from a nearly three-week layoff, rolled past Pittsburgh, 43-21.

The victory -- Miami's 12th in its last 13 meetings with Pittsburgh -- came fast and furious during a 20-point first quarter, with Portis scoring twice and Dorsey throwing an 18-yard TD pass to Andre Johnson on a fade pattern one play after a Pitt fumble.

Portis ran for a career-high 131 yards on 24 carries, with two touchdown runs of 1 yard and another of 4 yards. Dorsey was 18 of 32 for 208 yards and a TD for visiting Miami (3-0, 2-0 Big East).

Miami led, 43-7, in the fourth quarter before Pitt (1-2, 0-1) backup quarterback Rod Rutherford threw for a touchdown and ran for another.

Dawson leads Texas Open,
but Leonard lurks

Facing the prospect of returning to qualifying school yet again, Marco Dawson shot a 7-under-par 64 to grab the first-round lead in the Texas Open in San Antonio.

Dawson, who has fought back from back surgery, had a bogey-free round on the La Cantera Golf Club course. A victory would earn him a two-year exemption on tour.

Defending champion Justin Leonard and Jay Williamson were a shot off the lead, while Scott McCarron, Carl Paulson, Bob Burns and Brandel Chamblee were 5 under.

In Mobile, Ala., South Korea's Mi Hyun Kim, seeking her fourth LPGA Tour victory, shot a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the AFLAC Champions. Dottie Pepper was second after a 67.

Seat belt cases force
NASCAR to change rules

Reacting to the discovery of a partially torn seat belt in Jeremy Mayfield's car, NASCAR announced new rules regarding the placement of belts and manufacturer labels.

Effective immediately, manufacturer labels cannot be located under the adjusting mechanism when the driver is buckled in the seat and has tightened the seat belts and shoulder harness.

If the label is under the adjusting mechanism, the label must be removed or relocated "in a manner that does not affect the integrity of the belt material." The date of manufacture must still remain visible on the belts at all times.

Dale Earnhardt was killed in an accident on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. An inspection of his car found a broken lap belt and investigators later attributed the break to the phenomenon known as "dumping."

Dumping occurs when the webbing is pulled or moved to one side of the adjustment device through which the belt webbing travels. When a dumped belt is under stress, it can separate and tear across the entire webbing.

Although Mayfield's partial tear -- discovered after an accident at Dover, Del., Sunday -- is under investigation, NASCAR believes the belt broke because of dumping. By moving the manufacturer label out from under the adjuster, there is less material that could be affected or dumped.

Stockton takes pay cut
to return to Jazz

John Stockton agreed to take a $3 million per season paycut, accepting a salary of $8 million for each of the next two seasons to return to the Utah Jazz.

Stockton agreed to take less so that the Jazz would not exceed the estimated luxury tax threshold of $54 million.

"I just look at myself mostly as fortunate," said Stockton, entering his 18th season. "It's not like we'll be at the soup kitchen. This is a very good job."

In other news, former Houston Rockets great Clyde Drexler will join the Denver Nuggets as an aide to General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe.

Hall of Famer goes
to bat for Almonte

Hall of Famer Juan Marichal hopes to help develop Little League pitcher Danny Almonte, whose team was stripped of its third-place World Series finish after officials determined his family lied about his age.

Almonte made headlines last month when Dominican officials confirmed suspicions that the star pitcher was too old for New York's Rolando Paulino team. Almonte's family and team said he was 12, but Dominican officials said he was actually 14.

Marichal, who became vice president of the Dominican league team Pollos del Cibao on Wednesday, said he would like the team to sponsor Almonte -- covering the costs for his meals and schooling and providing baseball coaching -- without requiring anything of the Almonte family.

"Danny is a boy that needs protection," said Marichal, who pitched in the majors for 16 seasons, mostly with the San Francisco Giants.

Around & About

Ohio State freshman Connor Senn, who collapsed Wednesday during a soccer match at the University of Akron, died Thursday. Amy Myers, Ohio State's team physician for soccer, said it appeared the 18-year-old Senn died from some type of heart problem.

Anna Kournikova had a setback in her slow comeback from a foot injury when she lost to Anastasia Myskina, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, in the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig, Germany. Third-seeded Jelena Dokic was upset, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-0 by qualifier Daniela Hantuchova.

Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of North Richland Hills, Texas, defeated Leanne Barrette of Pleasanton, Calif., 234-191, in the championship match of the Professional Women's Bowling Association Jacksonville (Fla.) Open.

Monica Polka (Lew-Port) had 44 kills against St. John Fisher to break her single-season school record, but the Buffalo State volleyball team (14-5) lost in five games. Polka has 365 kills; the previous mark was 336.

Defenseman Bryan Berard, who nearly lost his right eye when he was hit by a stick during a game 1 1/2 years ago, has turned down an offer to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team said in a statement "it has been established that Bryan has agreed to terms with a team other than the Toronto Maple Leafs." That team is believed to be the New York Rangers.

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