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The Susquehanna Sabers learned that progress on the football field takes different forms.
A week after breaking their 34-game losing streak, the Sabers had to deal with the frustration of letting a shot at a major upset get away by giving up a series of big plays.
Undefeated Scranton Prep, the favorite to win the Lackawanna Football Conference Division II title, scored four times from at least 64 yards on the way to a 42-19 victory.
Throughout the past four seasons, the Sabers were unable to compete with teams the caliber of the Cavaliers.
Saturday, the Sabers racked up huge statistical advantages in the first half but still trailed, 21-19, at the break because of a 64-yard pass, an 89-yard kickoff return and a 65-yard run.
Susquehanna led in first downs (13-3), rushing yards (207-65), total offense (319-153) and time of possession (19:46-4:14) at halftime.
The Cavaliers recovered to shut down the Sabers offense in the second half, but Susquehanna still finished ahead in total offense, 369-311.
The Sabers led twice in the first half.
Whereas Scranton Prep covered long distances in a hurry, Susquehanna drove the ball down the field as the option offense showed improved balance from last week's 7-6 victory over Montrose.
Quarterback Anthony Dorunda rushed and passed for more than 100 yards. He carried 16 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns and hit 10 of 15 passes for 142 yards and another score.
Christopher Felter carried 15 times for 74 yards and caught three passes for 37 yards. Ernie Taylor added 12 carries for 39 yards. Nick Ott caught three passes for 43 yards.
The Sabers went 80 yards in four plays to start the game.
Dorunda passed 15 yards to Felter on a screen pass on the first play, then keep around the left side to cover 57 yards for the touchdown. Armonso Vevenzio added the kick for a 7-0 lead with 9:59 left in the first quarter.
Prep answered in one play when Steve Malinchak found Chris Pesota behind the defense for a 64-yard touchdown. After a penalty on the Sabers, Malinchak ran for two points to give the Cavaliers an 8-7 lead.
After the teams traded fumbles, Susquehanna drove 85 yards on 18 plays. Dorunda went 3-for-3 passing on the drive, including a seven-yard touchdown to Cody Norris. Pesota intercepted the two-point conversion attempt, but the Sabers had the lead, 13-8, with 9:26 left in the half.
The lead lasted just the 14 seconds that it took Pat Jochum to return the kickoff 89 yards for the score.
Prep needed only two plays to score on its next possession when Matt Rader took a draw 65 yards.
After intercepting a pass in Prep territory, Dorunda turned a run up inside on an option keeper and went 29 yards for the touchdown to get the Sabers back within three points with 1:11 left in the half.
The Cavaliers took control right from the start of the second half when Jochum returned the kickoff 90 yards.
Malinchak passed 27 yards to Dean Slovon for a touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
The Sabers had their last chance at a comeback with 9:28 remaining when Joshua Jenkins sacked Malinchak and forced a fumble that Zach Pomeroy recovered at the Cavaliers 43.
The ensuing drive reached the 17 before stalling.
Prep tacked on another score with 28 seconds left.
One play after officials ruled Slovon was down, negating an apparent Susquehanna fumble recovery, Rader scored on a 14-yard run.
Dorunda led the defense with five tackles, three assists, the interception and a forced fumble.
Robert Reddon and Taylor were each in on six tackles. Felter had four first hits and Jenkins made two tackles for losses.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Amber Lattner scored four goals in the Lackawanna League North Division opener to help the Montrose girls' soccer team get off to a strong start in league play.
The Meteors, who already had two impression non-league wins, started league play by beating Western Wayne, 4-1, and Forest City, 4-0.
Lattner scored the first two goals of the game against Western Wayne and then needed just 2:03 to answer Western Wayne's score and put the Lady Meteors in front, 3-1, at halftime.
Maggie McNamara, Brittany Ely and Autumn Ely had assists. The Lady Meteors had advantages of 30-5 in shots and 7-0 in corners while getting four saves from Caitlin Ely.
Lattner scored first again in the game against Montrose. Brittany Ely followed with two straight goals in the next 3:50, the second on an assist by Lattner, to create a 3-0 lead less than 18 minutes into the game.
McNamara scored in the second half.
Montrose allowed just two shots while taking 23 shots and 11 corner kicks.
In high school golf, Montrose handled Forest City, 6-3, in a match-up of unbeatens to trim the number of teams with perfect records to two.
It was the third win over a fellow unbeaten in the last two weeks for the Meteors. They were scheduled to face the last of the other unbeatens Monday at Wallenpaupack.
In girls' tennis, Montrose swept Scranton, 5-0, to improve to 3-1.
Sarah Golis, Ashleigh Hinds and Liz Davenport all swept close straight-set singles matches.
Golis took the third seed into the District 2 singles tournament, which was scheduled to start Monday in Wilkes-Barre.
In girls' cross country, Montrose's Tara Chiarella remained undefeated for the season during a win over Valley View.
In high school football, Old Forge kept Montrose winless when Mike Doran threw four touchdown passes in a 33-16 win.
Doran's first two touchdown passes, early in the second quarter, gave Old Forge a 12-0 lead.
Jared Fowler, who ran for well over 100 yards, brought the Meteors back by scoring on an eight-yard run. Fowler then pulled in a two-point conversion pass to cut the lead to 12-8.
Doran threw another touchdown pass before halftime and the Blue Devils extended their lead to 27-8 before the Meteors could score again late in the third quarter.
In professional baseball, Rich Thompson's season was extended just a little longer.
The Montrose graduate was promoted by the parent Pittsburgh Pirates to play in the International League playoffs with the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians after the his Altoona Curve was eliminated from the Eastern League playoffs.
Thompson had a big series, but the Indians were swept in three games by the Toledo Mud Hens.
Thompson hit .500 (7-for-14) in the series.
In the opener, he went 4-for-6 with a run, a triple, a stolen base and an RBI during a 10-8 loss.
Thompson was 2-for-4 with two runs, a stolen base and a sacrifice in a 6-3 loss in Game Two.
Thompson was 1-for-4 with a walk, a run, an RBI and an outfield assist in the season-ending, 8-3 loss.
Jason Skarbez, a 5-foot-10, 258-pound senior from Susquehanna, is an offensive lineman at Wilkes University.
Wilkes went 6-4 last season. The Colonels followed up a season-opening, 21-17 loss to William Paterson with a 13-0 victory over Widener.
Skarbez has not yet appeared this season, but received playing time on offense each of the past two seasons.
The National Hockey League creeps closer to its return with three stops in the region for exhibition games this week.
The Pittsburgh Penguins arrive in Wilkes-Barre for training camp Wednesday and play the Boston Bruins at Wachovia Arena that night.
Pittsburgh then meets Ottawa Friday at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton before the same teams play a rematch Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.
In high school tennis, District 2 doubles play will begin once the singles competition is completed. Singles play is expected to be done Tuesday.
In high school cross country, the Montrose Invitational is scheduled for Saturday.
In high school football, both Susquehanna and Montrose are on the road Friday night in Lackawanna Football Conference crossover games.
The Sabers (1-2) are at defending Division II champion Lakeland (2-1). The Meteors (0-3) are at unbeaten Bishop O'Hara.
Our football predictions for the week were 7-3, making our season record 25-11 (69.4 percent).
This weeks predictions, with winners in CAPS: LAKELAND 22, Susquehanna 6; BISHOP O'HARA 37, Montrose 14; NORTH POCONO 26, Wallenpaupack 7; DELAWARE VALLEY 47, Scranton 15; WEST SCRANTON 32, Valley View 30; CARBONDALE 35, Lackawanna Trail 19; MID VALLEY 34, Dunmore 6; SCRANTON PREP 32, Old Forge 16; WESTERN WAYNE 38, Riverside 23; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 42, Honesdale 8.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
“ROCKET” RYAN Out-duels Tony Stewart
Loudon, NH – “Rocket” Ryan Newman retook the lead in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway from Tony Stewart with two laps to go to win his first race of the 2005 season.
Newman’s win was a strong way for him to open his bid for this year’s 10-race championship chase.
Stewart, who led the most laps had passed Newman just five laps earlier, and appeared to be on his way to victory lane. But the “Rocket” refused to roll over, and as the cars came out of Turn-4, heading towards the white flag, Newman was the new leader.
Stewart tried to catch back up, but he had too little, too late, and Newman had his first Nextel Cup win since Dover of 2004.
“Man, it’s been a long time coming,” said Newman. “We raced today to win. We raced Tony clean and he raced us clean. It’s just a good day for us.”
Roush Racing teammates, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, who finished third and fourth battled each other as the laps wound down.
“I was pushing real bad, and Greg could get more momentum off the top, so it made for an awesome battle,’ said Kenseth.
Biffle remains in second spot, 20 points behind Stewart.
“I hate him (Kenseth),” Biffle said jokingly. “He’s racing me like we’re not teammates. That’s the way we have to do it, and that’s the way it should be.”
The big loser of the race was Roush driver Kurt Busch. Scott Riggs got loose during lap 3, forcing Busch into the outside wall. He finished the race 35th and lost five positions in the points.
The race became emotionally charged during the middle portions of the 300-laps.
Kasey Kahne deliberately ran into Kyle Busch under caution after Busch slipped up and put Kahne’s No. 9 into the wall.
Robby Gordon displayed his frustration by throwing his helmet under caution at Michael Waltrip, after being pushed into the wall.
During an interview after the wreck, Gordon said, “People think Michael is a good guy, but he is a piece of S—t.”
The incident highlighted the fact that TNT did not have the 7-second taped delay in place.
During a red flag after lap 198 for crews to clean debris off the track, NASCAR officials warned all the drivers that if they displayed their emotions on the track, they would not be racing next weekend.
Robbie Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, and Scott Riggs were summoned to the NASCAR trailer after the race ended.
Race For the Chase Contenders after 1 of 10 races: 1. Stewart-5230, 2. Biffle-5210, 3. Newman-5190, 4. R. Wallace-5190, 5. Kenseth-5180, 6. Johnson-5177, 7. Martin-5176, 8. Mayfield-5135, 9. Edwards-5121, 10. Busch-5088.
SARAH FISHER Is Willing To Pay Her Dues – So far, Sarah Fisher’s introduction to stock car racing has not been anything spectacular.
Fisher hasn’t finished better than 12th in her first four starts in NASCAR’s Grand National West series, but she has managed three top-10s in her last five races.
It's been a long, strange journey for her; from most popular driver in the Indy Racing League to NASCAR’s minor leagues.
She came up on the dirt tracks of the Midwest, earning the respect of some of the toughest drivers in American racing. That reputation, as well as a handful of victories in midgets and sprint cars, helped the determined Fisher reach the IRL in 1999 for one race after becoming, at 19, the youngest driver to pass the league's rookie test.
In 2000, she raced in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time and later that season finished third at Kentucky Speedway, the youngest woman in IRL history to lead laps and record a podium finish. The next year, Fisher became the fastest woman qualifier at Indy with a four-lap speed over 229 mph, won a pole at Kentucky and finished a career-best second in Homestead – still the best IRL finish by a woman.
In all, she started five Indy 500s and was voted the series' most popular driver three times. But it wasn't enough to ensure her future in the open-wheel sport.
Even as she became a fan favorite and showed her skill, Fisher struggled to find any kind of sponsorship.
At her bleakest moment, she met Richard Childress in April 2004 at a Chevrolet public relations function in Washington, D.C.
"Richard asked me how things were going and I told him that it could be better," Fisher said. "He said, 'Hey, if you ever decide to drive a stock car, call me, so, I did."
Childress got Fisher a test in a late-model stock car and liked what he saw. He helped her put together a deal for this year, driving in the NASCAR Grand National West series.
"I had followed her career and I knew what kind of driver she was," Childress said. "I knew she wasn't afraid of speed."
The plan for Fisher calls for her to drive a couple of Busch Series races later this season, while she continues to learn a new craft and wait for her chance to move up.
"I'm only 24 and that's still young," Fisher said. "But I have a lot of experience and I think that's playing a big key in this. I'm right where I want to be and, to me, it's not starting over, it's just learning a new style of racing.
"These are a different group of people and I've got to pay my dues all over again. I've got to show them that I have the capability to do this. And I have absolutely no problem doing that."
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Setzer-2756, 2. Musgrave-2697, 3. Hornaday-2553, 4. Spencer-2523, 5. Skinner-2472, 6. Hamilton-2422, 7. T. Bodine-2403, 8. Reutimann-2366, 9. Crafton-2353, 10. Starr-2342.
The Nextel Cup and Busch cars will be at Dover, DE, while the Craftsman Trucks head west to Las Vegas.
Saturday, September 24, Busch Series Dover 200, race 29 of 35, 200 laps/200 miles, 1 p.m. TV: TNT.
Craftsman Truck Series Las Vegas 350, race 20 of 25, 146 laps/219 miles, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, September 25, Nextel Cup MBNA 400, race 28 of 36, 400 laps/400 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: TNT.
Dover Downs Speedway track information: Size: One mile concrete oval; Banking in turns: 24 degrees; Banking on straights: 9 degrees; Length of front/backstretch: 1,076 feet; Grandstand capacity: 145,000.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Dave Blaney driver for?
Last Week’s Question: Does Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Skinner have any NASCAR Winston Cup wins? Answer. Skinner has never won a regular season Cup point’s race, but he won the 1997 and ’98 Exhibition races in Japan.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
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