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With their perfect season and a spot in history on the line, the New England Patriots went with man-to-man pass coverage across the field.
Everyone else's job: get to New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
When Montrose graduate Chris Snee and the rest of the offensive line did its job, the Giants found a way to pull off a stunning upset in Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants picked up the blitz, giving Manning time to calmly loft a pass toward the left corner where Plaxico Burress pulled in the 13-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining Sunday night, rallying New York to a 17-14 victory in a game that will go down as one of the most memorable in National Football League history.
Snee, the first Susquehanna County player to make it to the NFL, was not just there, he played a key role.
"What it came down to on the last play was protecting against the blitz and man-to-man coverage on Plaxico Burress," former coach and current analyst Jimmy Johnson said on Fox television minutes after the Giants rallied pulled off the victory.
The performance by the Giants linemen on both sides of the ball turned the game. Regular season Most Valuable Player Tom Brady picked himself up off the ground much more often than Manning, who wound up outperforming Brady to take the Super Bowl MVP award.
"These five guys up front have done an unbelievable job," Manning said in a post-game interview on the NFL Network. "…All year, they've protected me and established the running game, being physical.
"They did the same thing tonight."
Snee was part of that pass protection and perhaps the biggest part of the run blocking.
When the Giants faced fourth down and a yard at their 37 in the game-winning drive, they gave the ball to ball to Brandon Jacobs and sent him behind Snee at right guard for two yards to keep hope alive with 1:34 remaining.
"The fourth-and-one play was huge," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on the NFL Network. "Obviously, the game was over right there if we don't make it."
The Giants had to fight for their 91 rushing yards on 26 carries, but they were effective enough to control the ball for 19:27 of the first half, compared to the Patriots' 10:33. That helped keep the Giants within, 7-3, and showed they could be competitive with a team that was nearly a two-touchdown favorite.
The Giants opened the game with a drive that took 9:59 off the clock, making it the longest drive – in terms of time of possession – in Super Bowl history. That drive featured four third-down conversions, the third of which came from the New England 37 when the Giants ran Ahmad Bradshaw off the right side when they needed a yard. They got eight instead.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Elk Lake went out in the same semifinal round of the District 2 Class AA Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament, but the Warriors significantly closed the gap from a year ago.
The Warriors fell to host Lake-Lehman, 37-33, in a tense semifinal that went down to the final bout before the Black Knights lost to Berwick by the same four-point margin in the final.
A year ago, Elk Lake won its quarterfinal match before getting pounded by eventual champion Berwick, 46-17, in the semifinals.
Both Elk Lake matches involved comebacks.
The Warriors won four of the last five bouts and seven of the last nine to eliminate Hanover Area, 44-27, in the quarterfinals.
Hanover Area led, 18-3, before a pair of forfeits and a Brent Salsman pin at 160 put Elk Lake ahead, 21-18.
The Hawkeyes rallied to tie before the Warriors dominated the final five bouts.
Devin Fiorentino (119) and Josh Ralston (285) had pins in under a minute, Keaton Bennett (103) added a pin and Jacob Eastman (215) won by technical fall.
Elk Lake erased an early 12-0 deficit to take a 27-19 lead before Lake-Lehman won four of the final five bouts, including James Rosencrance's deciding pin at 125.
Blue Ridge also competed in the tournament, but lost in the quarterfinals, 49-9, to Berwick.
Hazleton Area won the District 2 Class AAA championship.
Elk Lake received the Lackawanna League's top seed in the tournament after winning the league's Division 2 title with a 6-0 record. Western Wayne was second at 4-2; Susquehanna, Montrose and Blue Ridge all went 3-3; Valley View was 2-4; and Mountain View was 0-6.
In boys' basketball, Forest City and Lackawanna Trail headed into the final week of Lackawanna League Division 3 second-half play tied for first place at 4-1 with Mountain View right behind at 3-1.
First-half champion Elk Lake maintained an outside shot at forcing a second-half playoff with a 2-2 record.
Elk Lake knocked Forest City out of a share of first place with a 65-55 victory early in the week before Susquehanna had three players score more than 20 points in a wild, 86-81 victory over Lackawanna Trail Saturday night.
Jeff Madrak had 34 points in Elk Lake's win.
Craig Soden hit four 3-pointers while scoring 28 points to lead Susquehanna over Lackawanna Trail. Kirk Fallon added 24 points and Brent Keyes had 21.
The Sabers, who fell out of title contention when they lost their first three games of the second half, opened the week with a 35-33 win over Montrose.
Keyes had seven of his 11 points and Soden had five of his seven in the third quarter when Susquehanna turned a 14-11 deficit into a 25-21 lead.
Montrose recovered to beat Carbondale, 50-31, behind Bill Stranburg's 16 points.
In girls' basketball, Blue Ridge and Montrose finished the week with just one second-half loss each, but they remain behind Carbondale, which has just one non-league loss all season.
Montrose gave Carbondale its toughest league challenge of the season before falling, 46-44, Thursday night.
Julia Koloski had 16 points, Chelsea Lunger had 10 points and nine assists and Monica Turner had 10 rebounds in the loss.
Roseanne Clister went 9-for-11 and Cassie Catanzaro went 8-for-9 from the line to lead Carbondale.
Earlier in the week, Montrose shut out Susquehanna in the first quarter of a 47-35 victory.
Koloski led the defensive effort and finished with 21 points and 10 steals. Turner had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Christy Glidden led Susquehanna with 20 points.
In professional hockey, the Canadian All-Stars defeated PlanetUSA, 9-8, in a shootout in the American Hockey League All-Star Classic at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton.
Manchester Monarchs rookie Teddy Purcell scored three goals and then had the deciding goal in the shootout to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
T.J. Hensick, another rookie from the Lake Erie Monsters, led PlanetUSA with two goals and two assists.
Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin Toby Petersen, now playing for the Iowa Stars, scored on the first penalty shot in the history of the game and also had two assists.
Denis Hamel of the Binghamton Senators was captain of the Canadian team and had a goal in the shootout.
Mountain View graduates L.B. Feduchak, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, and Nick Stoud, a 5-foot-9 freshman, are guards on the Marywood University men's basketball team.
They have similar totals in minutes played and points scored but have gotten there in a different way. Stoud had 31 points in 165 minutes while coming off the bench in all but one game. Feduchak has 28 points in 174 minutes while appearing in seven games, including six as a starter.
Feduchak is averaging 4.0 points per game by going 8-for-20 (40 percent) from the floor, 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) on 3-pointers and 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) from the line. He has 16 assists and eight steals.
Stoud has been struggling with his shooting from the floor while going 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) from the line. He also has 14 assists.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Regular season basketball play comes to an end in the Lackawanna League this week.
Depending on which teams win the second-half championships and whether there are any ties in the second-half standings, there could be playoff games on the weekend.
As first-half champion, Elk Lake is guaranteed of no worse than a playoff game for the all-season championship in Division 3 boys' basketball.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
2008 Racing Season Opens With ARCA Race, Daytona Beach, FL – Are you ready for some racing?
SPEEDWEEK, the week long racing celebration leading up to the February 17 Daytona 500, kicks off this Saturday with the ARCA 200.
As it has since 1964, the ARCA RE/MAX Series will open its season at Daytona Int’l Speedway with the 45th running of the ARCA 200.
Bobby Gerhart, five-time ARCA 200 winner.
Photo courtesy of ARCA
The event, live on SPEED at 4 p.m., serves as a show-opener for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star race, the Budweiser Shootout.
Expected entrants include nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel and five-time ARCA 200 winner, Bobby Gerhart. The event will mark Gerhart’s return to the driver’s seat following injuries sustained in a 2007 wreck at Pocono Raceway.
Kimmel, who parted ways with longtime car owner Larry Clement late in 2007, is paired up with Cunningham Motorsports for the Daytona season opener. And for the first time in his career, Kimmel will be in a Dodge rather than a Ford.
Cunningham Motorsports will also be entering rookie Tayler Malsam, the newest development driver for the Dodge Driver Development program. Malsam has also announced he would be running the entire 2008 ARCA schedule.
In addition, driver development entries are expected from a variety of high-profile teams including one from Roush Fenway Racing with rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Stenhouse is expected to run the full series schedule in 2008. Stenhouse was fourth quickest overall in recent Daytona testing.
Eddie Sharp Racing is expected to file two entries, one with Formula 1 veteran Scott Speed at the helm, and the other with Ken Butler III. In one career series start, Speed finished seventh at Talladega in 2007. Butler, in 11 career starts in 2007, has one victory at Toledo Speedway. His career-best superspeedway finish was seventh at Michigan Int’l Speedway. Both drivers will be in Toyota Camrys for the Daytona event.
Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, in a Ganassi Racing Dodge, is also expected to enter.
Entries from the Driver Development teams also include one from car owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who is listed as the car owner for rookie driver Landon Cassill. It marks the first time that Earnhardt, Jr. has participated in the ARCA RE/MAX Series as a car owner.
At present, 74 entries have been received.
Only seven different drivers have won from the pole in the ARCA 200 at Daytona: Gerhart ’05 and ’06, Benny Parsons '69, Andy Hampton '72, Iggy Katona '74, Woody Fisher '77, Jeff Purvis '93 and Andy Hillenburg '97. Only Gerhart has repeat wins (‘05, ‘06 and ‘07) in consecutive years.
Toyota Doing Good, Johnson Not So Good – There has been a lot of talk about how well Toyota teams will fare this season, especially after the bust they experienced last year.
Joe Gibbs Racing, which switched from Chevrolets to Toyotas at the end of last season, continued to show the way in Cup tests last Thursday. JGR teams posted four of the seven fastest laps in the day's first test session at California Speedway.
Denny Hamlin turned the two fastest laps, topping out at 182.523 mph on the 2-mile Fontana track. Ryan Newman, driving a Penske Racing Dodge, was next at 181.511 mph.
Two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson struggled. His Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was 38th among 56 cars that tested at 177.940 mph. “It's not driving worth a damn,” said Johnson. “The car had a major push in it.”
Other drivers were satisfied with the way the car was handling.
“I'm really pleasantly surprised at how well the car drove around here,” said Carl Edwards, who followed this week's solid showings at 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the 10th-fastest lap (180.496 mph) in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. “I was pretty nervous about running cars on these bigger racetracks because I wasn't sure how they'd handle, but our engineers are doing a good job.”
Johnson said his team's primary difficulties stemmed from the lack of downforce and inability to find the correct height for NASCAR's new chassis.
He also said it might be time for NASCAR to look at factors other than the cars when it comes to improving competition. Johnson said creating track conditions that add multiple grooves would produce more side-by-side racing than NASCAR can create by putting further restrictions on its cars.
The strong showing the Toyota teams have made during tests at Las Vegas and California could mean they will be ready for the season-opening, Daytona 500, on February 17.
But Johnson said he’s keeping an eye on teams rather than manufacturers right now.
“I think you have to rule out some of the manufacturer influence and think of the race teams,” Johnson said, pointing to Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
“We know that Gibbs is strong. The Hendrick cars have been good... but I don’t think we’re where we want to be yet. We’re still learning and developing things.
“The one that has impressed me really is Carl Edwards. Those Roush cars have been good, especially Carl. He’s been real fast, not only for one lap, but over the course of the run he’s been really impressive, and I think the best car so far.
“But every year’s a new year, and I know this year is going to be a totally different discipline. I saw a lot of teams at the end of last season coming on strong.
“Jack Roush is going to be somebody to worry about. And I don’t think Tony had the year he wanted last season; Denny had two-thirds of the year he wanted, but the end didn’t turn out how he would have liked. Kyle is going to be fast, we know that.
“The sport is so humbling. We’re struggling our butts off right now, 18th on the board. So we’ve got a lot of learning.”
Saturday, February 9, ARCA RE/MAX Daytona 200, 80 laps/200 miles, 4 p.m. TV: Speed.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout is a non-points race for drivers that won a pole during 2007, and previous Shootout winners. Starting time: 8 p.m. TV: Fox.
Sunday, February 10, Daytona 500 Qualifying, 1 p.m. TV: Speed. Note: Drivers will qualify for the top-two starting positions only. The remainder of the 43-car Daytona 500 starting field will be determined through twin 125-mile races on February 14, and NASCAR provisionals.
The 2008 Budweiser Shootout may be the last one. Budweiser will no longer be the series pole sponsor. The new contract with Coors did not include any announcements for future shootout races.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Daytona 500s did Dale Earnhardt, Sr. win?
Last Week’s Question: Which NASCAR series will Erin Crocker race in this season? Answer: She will be in the Craftsman Truck Series.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Date Race/Location Laps
1. Feb. 15 Chevy Silverado 250, Daytona Beach, FL 100
2. Feb. 23 San Bernardino County 200, Fontana, CA 100
3. March 7 American Commercial Lines 200, Hampton, GA 130
4. March 29 Kroger 250, Martinsville, VA 250
5. April 26 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, Kansas City, KS 167
6. May 16 N.C. Education Lottery 200, Charlotte, NC 134
7. May 24 Mansfield 250, Mansfield, OH 250
8. May 30 AAA Insurance 200, Dover, DE 200
9. June 6 Sam’s Town 400k, Ft. Worth, TX 167
10. June 14 Michigan 200, Brooklyn, MI 100
11. June 20 Milwaukee 200, West Allis, WI 200
12. June 28 O’Reilly 200, Memphis, TN 200
13. July 12 Kentucky 225, Sparta, KY 150
14. July 25 Power Stroke Diesel 200, Clermont, IN 200
15. Aug. 9 Toyota Tundra 200, Lebanon, TN 150
16. Aug. 20 O’Reilly 200, Bristol, TN 200
17. Sept. 6 Dodge Ram Tough 200, St. Louis, MO 150
18. Sept. 13 New Hampshire 200, Loudon, NH 200
19. Sept. 20 Quik Liner Las Vegas 350, Las Vegas, NV 146
20. Oct. 4 Talladega 250, Talladega, AL 94
21. Oct. 18 Martinsville 200, Martinsville, VA 200
22. Oct. 25 Atlanta 200, Hampton, GA 130
23. Oct. 31 Chevy Silverado 350k, Ft. Worth, TX 146
24. Nov. 7 Phoenix 150, Phoenix, AZ 150
25. Nov. 14 Ford 200, Homestead, FL 134
NOTE: The Feb. 23 race at Fontana, CA will be televised on Fox. All others will be shown on SPEED.
Montrose Meteors' Nate Hotchkiss works on his winning decision moves against GAR. Montrose claimed the match.
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