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SCRANTON - Susquehanna’s 2008 schedule did not include the Riverside team that won Lackawanna Football Conference Division 2 and District 2 Class A championships.
Sabers coach Dick Bagnall saw enough Thursday night to understand how the Vikings carried an unbeaten record all the way to the state quarterfinals a year ago.
“Obviously, Riverside was a very good football team last year and those guys were the reason why,” Bagnall said after eight Riverside graduates led the County past his City team, 29-7, in the 75th annual Dream Game before a paid crowd of 8,147 at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Joe Klebon carried 15 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns to lead the County, but it was the work of Tom Bennie in the middle of the defensive line that did the most to disrupt Bagnall’s plans.
“That kid just ate us up,” Bagnall said. “When the nose guard disrupts your line and dominates the middle of the field, it makes it hard to do much offensively.”
Despite having to split training among the four quarterbacks selected to the game, Bagnall’s option offense moved the ball, only to be hurt by a series of big plays.
“We had a key turnover and we had a penalty on the first drive when it was fourth and a foot,” Bagnall said. “The turnovers were the big thing, but we had penalties, too.
“We moved the ball, then we’d do something dumb.”
When the City was not hurting itself, the Riverside combination on the County was inflicting damage.
Quarterback Jay Velehoski, a second-team Associated Press all-state selection, was 5-for-7 passing for 80 yards. Ryan Chisdock was the top County receiver, catching four passes for 79 yards, all in the first half.
Matt Talerico started at flanker and carried twice for 13 yards while catching a pass for 14. He then moved to defense, where he was a first-team, all-state back, and was in on four tackles.
Ryan Mickavicz started at center and Mike Sobolewski at guard to help open holes for a County offense that churned out 17 first downs and 336 yards total offense.
Collins had four tackles and two assists from his defensive end position. He had a sack and another tackle for a five-yard loss.
The most significant damage, however, was done by Bennie and Klebon.
Bennie, a second-team, all-state choice, had three tackles and two assists. He had one sack for an eight-yard loss, assisted on another and made a tackle for a loss. He also forced a fumble and rushed the quarterback into an incompletion.
Klebon put the City in a hole from the start. He scored on a 2-yard run on the first drive and added a 28-yard touchdown in the third quarter to build the lead to 27-0. In between, he added a 30-yard run to set up another score.
The City lineup included four Susquehanna County players - three from Montrose and one from Susquehanna.
Kyle Bonnice and Andy Burgh of Montrose both started in the defensive backfield.
Bonnice had an interception to keep the game close for a while and also made four tackles, including one for a five-yard loss. Burgh had a tackle and two assists.
“I thought our secondary was OK,” Bagnall said.
Tony Bistocchi of Montrose came off the bench to make two tackles in the defensive line.
Susquehanna’s Tim Gall was a back-up in the offensive line.
The County stretched the lead to 21-0 with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns.
Lakeland’s Randy Nichols, who also kicked three first-half extra points, had a one-yard touchdown run. Pat Griffin of Abington Heights then passed 38 yards to a wide-open Chisdock for another score with 2:27 left in the half.
Old Forge’s Anthony Pero intercepted a pass at the County 5 with his team leading just 7-0 with 1:42 left in the first quarter.
Bonnice made his interception at the 2 with 4:44 left in the half and the City still within, 14-0.
Dunmore’s Miller Holmes passed 20 yards to Delaware Valley’s Hank Neurouter with 27 seconds left to break the shutout.
Holmes ran or passed for eight of the City’s 10 longest offensive plays. He carried seven times for 41 yards and hit six of 13 passes for 126 yards.
Scranton tight end Shane Glacken had five catches for 93 yards for the City.
The County closed the scoring with a sack for a safety on the game’s final play.
“We had a good time,” said Bagnall, who lost in his debut as Dream Game head coach after going 2-0 in the defunct Suburban Conference All-Star Game. “The kids were great kids.
“I look forward to following them in college.”
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript.
Hornaday Gets Fifth Straight Win
NASHVILLE - By winning Saturday night’s Camping World Series Truck race at Nashville, Ron Hornaday became the first driver in any of NASCAR's national series to win five races in a row since 1971, when Richard Petty and Bobby Allison each did it in the Cup Series.
“That's unheard of (five straight) in this time and age,” Hornaday said. “Five, can you believe that?”
Crew Chief Rick Ren and Ron Hornaday.
Hornaday led 115 of 154 laps in the Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet. It was his sixth victory of the season and 45th of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, first on the all-time list.
It was his first win in 13 NASCAR races at the 1.33-mile concrete-surfaced track, five in trucks and eight in the Nationwide Series. He has long coveted winning Nashville's trademark trophy, a Gibson guitar painted by artist Sam Bass.
“I finally got me a Sam Bass guitar,” Hornaday said.
Hornaday led the final 63 laps. He had a 2.8-second lead over Brian Scott wiped out by a late caution, which forced the race into a green-white-checkered overtime finish.
Hornaday easily pulled away from Scott on the final restart and won by .944 seconds.
Rick Ren, the crew chief, also moved up in the history books with his 27th victory as a crew chief in the series. He's done it with five different drivers, but has 16 since the start of the 2007 season with Hornaday.
“We both made history tonight,” Ren said. “It's not much better than this. I think most wins is an honor, but what I really feel good about is I've done it with five different drivers.”
Top-10 points leaders after 14 of 25: 1. Hornaday-2293, 2. Crafton-2077, 3. Skinner-2045, 4. Bodine-1927, 5. Scott-1920, 6. Starr-1867, 7. Malsam-1831, 8. Setzer-1815, 9. Braun-1804, 10. Crawford-1785.
KESELOWSKI OUTDUELS KYLE BUSCH
NEWTON, Iowa - Brad Keselowski passed Kyle Busch with eight laps remaining to win Saturday's inaugural Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway, in one of the best races of the season.
Busch had pitted for two tires late in the race, while Keselowski chose to keep his No. 88 Chevrolet on the track during the caution period. It was a risky move on the part of Keselowski’s team, but it paid off as he won his second Nationwide Series race of the year.
Top-10 points leaders after 21 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-3471, 2. Edwards-3264, 3. Keselowski-3099, 4. Leffler-2955, 5. Allgaier-2493, 6. Bliss-2479, 7. S. Wallace-2423, 8. Logano-2395, 9. Keller-2394, 10. Gaughan-2365.
STEWART CONSIDERING THIRD TEAM
While there might be doom and gloom for many big racing teams, Stewart-Haas Racing is not one of them. Tony Stewart, the current Sprint Cup points leader told reporters at Pocono that his two-car operation was looking to form a third team.
“We are definitely open to it for sure,” said Stewart. “We are interested for sure. We feel like it is a matter of timing, it is everything. I don't know that something would happen for next year. I think we are getting close to the stage of the season where it may get too late to have that opportunity to add a third car for next year. It is something that at least as a company we feel comfortable with and feel like with the right opportunity, that it is definitely possible.”
Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman is seventh in points.
WILL IT BE LOWE’S OR CHARLOTTE
Lowe's Home Improvement Stores announced they would not renew its naming-rights deal at Lowe's Motor Speedway after the present contract expires.
Last week the retailer informed Speedway Motorsports Inc., the track's parent company, of its decision. The initial 10-year, $35 million deal ran through 2008. Last year the two sides agreed on a one-year extension through 2009.
The two sides have not been able to reach an agreement. Sources said it's possible for Lowe's to change its mind, given that five months remain on the current deal and the unpredictable nature of the economy.
Barring a late agreement with Lowe's or the signing of a new corporate partner, the track is expected to go back to its former name, Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010. Industry sources say that SMI initially came to the table asking for close to $9 million annually, and while that number dropped over the course of their discussions, the two sides could not reach agreement.
Lowe's is also evaluating its future with driver Jimmie Johnson, who has won three straight Cup championships. Their deal with Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports expires at the end of 2010 and those renewal talks are expected to begin later this year. Industry sources say that Lowe's will be expected to pay a hefty increase to maintain its position as the only primary sponsor on Johnson's No. 48 car.
The most expensive sponsorships go for the mid-$20 million range annually. Probably the most expensive sponsorship would be that of the No. 88 driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The total package is in the $30-million range.
Lowe's earnings fell 22 per cent in 2008 and 60 per cent in the final quarter.
SMI officials said they are not presently talking with any other companies on the naming rights.
Correction: In last week’s column, we should have said, Jimmie Johnson was a repeat winner at the Brickyard.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at Watkins Glen, NY for their second road course race of the season. The Camping World Trucks do not race again until Aug. 19.
Sat, Aug. 8, Nationwide Series Zippo 200, race 22 of 35; Starting time: 2:30 pm (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Aug. 9, Sprint Cup Series At The Glen, race 22 of 36; Starting time: 1 pm (EDT); TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: BMW is leaving Formula 1. Which series are they considering moving to?
Last Week’s Question: Which RCR driver took over Dale Earnhardt Sr’s Cup ride after his death? Answer. Kevin Harvick.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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