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Hilton heading up; swimmers finish second

T.Y. Hilton didn't have a Roc Alexander to punk Saturday in the NFL playoffs. He didn't have a Marvin Harrison to suck attention. But he knew how to take advantage of a sitaution for 13 catches, 224 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City Saturday.

When Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne scorched Denver for 10 catches, 221 yards and two touchdowns in the 2004 Wild Card round, Wayne benefitted from the circumstances. After Peyton Manning was nearly perfect in the 2003 playoffs against Denver, the Broncos traded for cornerback Champ Bailey. Denver stuck Bailey on Marvin Harrison in the 2004 playoffs and had a safety checking in also on Harrison, but left rookie Roc Alexander on Wayne. Manning and Wayne buried poor Alexander that day.

Saturday, as has been the case for just over half the season since he went down with a season-ending injury, Wayne was out. Hilton, already drawing occasional double coverage before Wayne went down, has become even more the focus of opposing defenses in a league where winning turns on making or preventing big plays. Hilton owned the Colts first drive. And the 64-yard winning touchdown bomb encompassed the essence of kid football: go long and I'll heave it to you. Or, if the kid throwing happens to be Andrew Luck, I'll whistle it along a wire to you in stride.

Kansas City lost Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers during the playoff game against the Colts, subtracting from an already-banged up secondary. There was clear confusion on the game-winning touchdown. Yet there was also just slow reaction to too much speed. Still, that's a good secondary. KC won't be spending multiple draft picks on cornerbacks, as Denver did after the Manning-to-Wayne beat down.

Hilton's put on size, which he'll need for durability. Because just as Harrison retired and Wayne became the No. 1 guy in Indy for Manning to target, Wayne's years remaining are few and Hilton's next in line to be Luck's main man wideout (if he isn't already).

And with each game, a few people will ask and learn, "What's Florida International?" Good marketing.

SWIMMING & DIVING

FIU finished second to New Mexico in Saturday's 10-team FIU Invite.

Sabrina Beaupre won both diving events, which meant she was a bigger winner in South Florida during break than her beloved Canadiens were on the ice against the Florida Panthers. Freshman Jennifer Alfani won the 50 butterfly and the 200 freestyle relay with juniors Klara Andersson, Johanna Gustafsdottir and freshman Jennifer Deist.

 

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