BOXING—Unbeaten heavyweight RON LYLE stopped Larry Middleton at 2:41 in the third round of their bout in Denver for his 19th win and 17th knockout.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—The bowl season began with seven games, featuring a 35-14 victory by MASSACHUSETTS over the University of California-Davis in the Boardwalk Bowl at Atlantic City. LOUISIANA TECH defeated Tennessee Tech 35-0 in the Grantland Rice Bowl and TENNESSEE STATE stopped Drake 29-7 in the Pioneer Bowl. EAST TEXAS STATE was a 21-18 winner over Carson-Newman in the NAIA Champion Bowl and NORTH DAKOTA beat Cal Poly of San Luis Obispo 38-21 for the NCAA College Division Western Region title. FRESNO CITY COLLEGE upset previously unbeaten Pasadena City College 21-7 in the Potato Bowl and the EAST topped the West 20-7 in the Ohio Shrine Bowl. In a final regular-season game NORTH CAROLINA (10-1) defeated Florida 28-24.
HOCKEY—NHL: Boston had everything going, including a 75-foot goal. Defenseman Carol Vadnais started a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia by flipping the puck in the general direction of the net. It bounced past Flyer Goalie Michel Belhumeur for a goal, and the second-place Bruins were on their way to extending their unbeaten string to 11 games. California, last in the West Division, gave East leader Montreal a rough time before the Canadiens won 2-1 as Jacques Lemaire set up Chuck Lefley for the go-ahead goal late in the second period. Earlier Lemaire fired in his 24th goal of the season. In a meeting of New Yorkers, Bill Fairbairn netted a pair of goals as the Rangers hit three goals in a less-than-three-minute span of the second period to beat the last-place Islanders 4-1. Minnesota held its slim lead over Chicago in the West by whipping Detroit with Goalie Cesare Maniago stopping 31 shots. The win ended the North Stars' three-game losing streak.
WHA: New England increased its winning streak to five, and moved into first place in the East Division with its 4-2 triumph over New York. Terry Caffery broke a 2-2 deadlock early in the third period when he beat Raider Goalie Pete Donnelly. The Whalers received help from West Division leader Winnipeg, a 3-2 winner in overtime against Cleveland, which also lost its top ranking in the East. Milt Black netted the winning goal in the sudden-death period on an assist from Player-Coach Bobby Hull. Earlier Hull drove home the rebound on his own missed shot for his 14th goal of the season. The night before, Hull scored as his Jets broke open a close game with four goals over 5½ minutes of the last period for a 6-2 win over Houston. Los Angeles ran its unbeaten streak to four as Ted McCaskill scored twice to help the Sharks beat Alberta 4-2. Last-place Philadelphia had little trouble with Ottawa 7-1.
HORSE RACING—FORAGE ($6.80) drew away from favored Sunny and Mild on a muddy Aqueduct track for a six-length victory in the $28,425 Discovery Handicap.
PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: In the Central Division Atlanta and Baltimore were tied for first place. Pete Maravich and Lou Hudson combined for 71 points as the Hawks won their fifth straight in defeating the Bullets 134-115 to take a half-game lead, but the next night Baltimore gained its share of first place by scoring 45 points in the first quarter en route to a 120-112 victory over Kansas City-Omaha, even though the Kings' Nate Archibald continued to lead the league in scoring and assists (page 24). It was a productive week for Baltimore's Phil Chenier, who netted a career-high 53 points in a 115-102 win over Portland. The Bullets obtained Guard Flynn Robinson from the Lakers for a draft choice. The Atlantic Division race was a tight one, too, as Boston maintained its one-game lead over New York. In the flip-flopping Midwest Division, Chicago retook first as it defeated Buffalo 105-94 on the same night Detroit was upsetting Milwaukee 107-103. The Bulls won without their regular starting guards, Norm Van Lier, who was ill, and Jerry Sloan, out with an injured knee. Reserves Jimmy King and Bobby Weiss contributed 15 points each. Los Angeles held a comfortable six-game advantage over Golden State in the Pacific Division.
ABA: After a slow start Kentucky is a factor in the East Division race. The Colonels stretched their unbeaten streak to eight, longest in the ABA this season, with a 121-114 victory over Indiana, the West Division leader. Louie Dampier scored two three-point goals among his 25 points and seven assists as Kentucky moved to within 1½ games of first-place Carolina. Carolina's 107-104 triumph over Denver had the home crowd jumping. The Cougars trailed 103-97 with just 1:08 remaining when a three-pointer by Mack Calvin and a Joe Caldwell dunk started a comeback. Billy Cunningham broke free underneath for the go-ahead points. Julius Erving's 30 points led Virginia, third in the East, to a 101-98 win over Denver. Last-place Dallas continued to plague Indiana. This time rookie James Silas sank two foul shots in the last four seconds for a 129-128 victory.
PRO FOOTBALL—NFC: DALLAS (page 20) and GREEN BAY clinched playoff spots, but the Western Division situation remained as wacky as ever—a three-team push into the final week. The Cowboys assured themselves of the wild-card playoff berth with their 34-24 win over Washington, the Eastern Division champion. The Packers took the Central Division title by topping Minnesota 23-7. It was the first time for Green Bay to earn a playoff spot since the days of Vince Lombardi. DETROIT needed a win to stay alive, and could only come from behind to tie Buffalo 21-21. CHICAGO was a 21-12 victor over Philadelphia. SAN FRANCISCO kept the Western Division race going by defeating Atlanta 20-0 to regain first place. The 49ers are 7-5-1, the Falcons 7-6 and Los Angeles, a 24-14 loser to ST. LOUIS, is 6-6-1. San Francisco can clinch the title outright with a final-game victory over Minnesota.
AFC: For the first time in club history PITTSBURGH has a playoff berth—either by winning the Central Division title next week or as a wild card—with its 9-3 triumph at Houston. All the Steeler scoring came on field goals by Roy Gerela. CLEVELAND strengthened its bid for a wild-card spot—or possibly a share of the Central title—by eliminating Cincinnati 27-24. Linebacker Bill Andrews intercepted a Virgil Carter pass on his own goal line in the final 26 seconds to stop the last Bengal drive. Unbeaten MIAMI won its 13th game by stopping the Giants 23-13. NEW ENGLAND topped New Orleans 17-10 and KANSAS CITY posted a 24-10 triumph over Baltimore. Last-place DENVER defeated San Diego 38-13 in another Western Division game.
SKIING—Germany's PAMELA BEHR, 16, raced through a driving snowstorm to win the women's slalom at Val d'Is√®re, her first victory in World Cup competition. She totaled 84.35 seconds on her two runs.
SURFING—JAMES JONES of Hawaii won the Duke Kahanamoku Classic at Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore, taking the $2,000 first prize.
TENNIS—Top-seeded CHARLES PASARELL defeated Pancho Gonzales 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to win the men's singles title in the $75,000 Clean Air Classic in New York. VIRGINIA WADE, also top-ranked, won the women's championship over Rosemary Casals 6-3, 6-3.
MILEPOSTS—AWARDED: The Heisman Trophy, to JOHNNY RODGERS of Nebraska, as the top collegiate football player in the nation; by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York. Rodgers received 1,310 points from the electors and Oklahoma's Greg Pruitt had 966.
FIRED: As general manager of the New England Patriots, UPTON BELL, after 18 months of a three-year contract. Patriot President Billy Sullivan decided that the team would benefit more from having the new head coach, as yet unnamed, also serve as general manager.
HIRED: CHUCK MILLS, as head football coach at Wake Forest, succeeding Tom Harper, who was fired. Mills was the head coach at Utah State, where he was 8-3 the last two years.
HIRED: As head football coach at Clemson University, JIM (Red) PARKER, to replace Cecil (Hootie) Ingram, who resigned with four years remaining on a five-year contract. Parker was the head coach at The Citadel for seven seasons.
RESIGNED: After three years as head football coach at Purdue, BOB DeMOSS, to become assistant athletic director.
WITHDRAWN: From U.S. Olympic Committee membership, the BIG TEN and BIG EIGHT CONFERENCES, following the NCAA's break with the Olympic group in October. The Southern Conference endorsed the NCAA's move, but retained its membership in the USOC.
DIED: Designer of classic racing and cruising yachts L. FRANCIS HERRESHOFF, 83; in Boston.