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TMP settles for split -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Shields strikes out 12 as Royals complete sweep -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Indian swimmers seventh in Salina -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

HHS softball splits with Salina South -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

HHS baseball swept at Salina South -4/18/2014, 10:23 AM

Final home games for Tigers -4/18/2014, 10:14 AM

Tiger softball No. 8 in first region rankings -4/18/2014, 10:13 AM

Indian track competes at Valley Center -4/18/2014, 10:13 AM

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Jets land former Titan Chris Johnson -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

HDN Area Track & Field honor roll, April 17 -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Freeman winds up with N.Y. Giants -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Tigers win on grand slam -4/17/2014, 10:16 AM

Weber gets extension at K-State -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

HHS' Weigel becomes a Cowboy -4/17/2014, 10:15 AM

Humburg jumping well for Ness City -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Doubles team rolls at HHS Invitational -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

HHS soccer improves to 6-2, beats Great Bend -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Prep golf results, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger tennis ends MIAA season in loss -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Tiger golfers ninth in St. Charles, Mo. -4/16/2014, 9:59 AM

Track results, Redmen Relays, April 15 -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys win at Ellsworth -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP softball sweeps Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP soccer suffers loss at Garden City -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP boys' golf third at Goodland -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

TMP baseball rolls past Ellis -4/16/2014, 9:58 AM

HHS baseball splits with Junction City -4/15/2014, 9:53 AM

TMP softball swept at Colby -4/15/2014, 10:10 AM

TMP golf begins season today -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

HHS soccer rallies for victory -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Rare time off for Tiger softball -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

KSU, WSU Barnstormers coming to Hays -4/15/2014, 10:09 AM

Watson wins Masters -4/14/2014, 10:08 AM

Royals swept by Twins -4/14/2014, 10:07 AM

Harvick wins at Darlington -4/13/2014, 6:51 AM

Royals ace James Shields struggles in loss to Twins -4/13/2014, 6:42 AM

K-State's Deante Burton feels ready to take his game up a notch -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

Former Jayhawks address football team about facing struggles -4/13/2014, 6:39 AM

HHS basketball camp May 27 to 29 -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

Tigers’ Wolf second at K.T. Woodman -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

FHSU tennis drops pair of MIAA outings -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

FHSU softball 3-1 in weekend -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger offense shines in Spring Game -4/13/2014, 6:31 AM

Tiger baseball 1-3 in series -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

Mattheyer jumps onto scene at Ellis -4/13/2014, 6:30 AM

HHS golf finishes second in Garden City -4/13/2014, 6:32 AM

HHS pitcher, catcher share chemistry -4/13/2014, 7:56 AM

HHS relay team wins Elite -4/12/2014, 6:37 PM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
San Francisco beats Falcons to secure playoff spot

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San Francisco beats Falcons to secure playoff spot

Published on -12/24/2013, 8:52 AM

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By JANIE McCAULEY

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- On a night they cheered "The Catch" and all the San Francisco greats of old, the current 49ers looked ready to move that success right into the future at a flashy new stadium.

In one emphatic finish, NaVorro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick and the Niners sealed their postseason berth in a ceremonious regular-season farewell for Candlestick Park.

Bowman returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown with 1:10 remaining, and the 49ers clinched a playoff spot with a wild 34-24 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in the likely final game at The Stick.

"That's been the best thing I've ever seen happen in a football game," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Might've been close to 'The Catch."'

Tramaine Brock broke up a pass intended for Harry Douglas and Bowman got his hands on the ball and took off. He was joined in the end zone by his teammates for a jubilant dog pile.

"I always say a lot of plays are made when you run to the ball," Bowman said. "That's all I was doing was just running to the ball, trying to make a tackle, and it popped up and I was able to make a play for my team."

Matt Ryan threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White with 8:34 remaining and a 2-yard score to Tony Gonzalez with 2:09 left as the Falcons (4-11) made things interesting until the end.

Atlanta's Jason Snelling recovered the ensuing onside kick as the Falcons got the ball back and were driving for a potential go-ahead score when San Francisco (11-4) capitalized with one of its biggest takeaways yet.

"When we got the onside kick at the end, we had a great opportunity to win but it wasn't meant to be," Ryan said. "Sometimes the ball bounces in the other direction. That's been the case for us."

Kaepernick ran for a 4-yard touchdown and threw a 10-yard TD pass to Anquan Boldin, and Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard touchdown run as the 49ers used a big second half to clinch a third straight playoff season and fifth consecutive victory. They put up 169 yards in the third quarter after managing just 113 in the first half as the sellout crowd fell momentarily quiet.

San Francisco still has a slim chance at winning a third consecutive NFC West crown and earning a first-round bye if St. Louis wins at Seattle and the 49ers beat Arizona on the road. They can win the NFC's top seed with the same scenario, plus a Carolina loss at Atlanta.

During an evening of fanfare and famous faces for Candlestick's ceremonious farewell, Kaepernick took charge as his team made good on Harbaugh's mantra for the week: "We don't want to be the guys who screw up the final game in Candlestick."

"Best birthday present I've ever gotten, second only to being born," quipped Harbaugh on his 50th birthday. "That was awesome."

Boldin had a 10-yard touchdown catch that tied it at 10 with 12:03 left in the third, and Kaepernick ran for a score early in the fourth.

This rematch of the NFC championship game featuring teams headed in opposite directions was another thriller. The 49ers won 28-24 last January in Atlanta to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.

Boldin caught six passes for 72 yards and went over 1,000 yards receiving for the sixth time in his career and first since 2009. Kaepernick was 13 for 21 for 197 yards.

With the future of the 49ers on display, there were plenty of glimpses to the past -- and five Super Bowl titles.

"There's a lot of history in this stadium," Bowman said. "For this to be the last game, we cannot leave it with an L. So I'm glad we got the W."

Joe Montana's winning touchdown pass to Dwight Clark -- dubbed "The Catch" -- was celebrated at halftime as the No. 1 moment during a top-10 countdown during each home game this year. The special spot in the right corner of the north end zone was marked with a gold dot. That victory in the NFC championship game after the 1981 season sent San Francisco to its first Super Bowl title.

The 49ers are set to move into $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium at team headquarters in Santa Clara while Candlestick waits out its implosion day.

White had 12 catches for 141 yards and retiring Falcons tight end Gonzalez eight for 63 yards in his final game back in the Bay Area, where he starred collegiately at California. Ryan wound up 37 for 48 for 348 yards but his late mistakes were costly as has been the case in a 1-7 road showing.

Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice played catch on the field before the game, and two baseball greats with their own Hall of Fame distinction -- Willie Mays and Willie McCovey -- were on hand and waved to cheering fans.

San Francisco's 31 second-half points were its most since scoring 35 against Atlanta on Sept. 15, 1985, according to STATs.

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