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If the Nanticoke Trojans are on their toes, they will keep an extra close eye on Dan Kempa on the first play of Friday night’s game.
The Susquehanna quarterback is averaging 82 yards on game-opening plays through the first two weeks of the season.
Kempa topped his season-opening effort when he went 87 yards for a touchdown Saturday in Wilkes-Barre to fuel a 48-7 romp over Holy Redeemer to move the Sabers to 2-0 on the season.
The touchdown was the first of three by Kempa, who ran for 230 yards on eight carries.
Jesse Pruitt powered in from the 5 to make it 13-0 just 2:32 into the game.
Kempa scooped up a fumble on a botched handoff and turned it into a positive by taking off for a 78-yard touchdown.
That score allowed the Sabers to get out of the first quarter with a 21-0 lead and 215 yards rushing compared to minus-2 by the Royals.
Susquehanna finished with a 407-63 lead in rushing yards.
Greg Price carried 14 times for 106 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
Price ran 33 yards for a score in the third quarter and 12 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
In between, Kempa ran 33 yards for a touchdown. After that score, however, he missed an extra-point kick, leaving the Sabers a point short of invoking the Mercy Rule at 41-7.
Kempa also threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Austin Cowperthwait.
The Sabers shut down Holy Redeemer’s ground game despite facing some injury problems at linebacker and defensive end. Fullback/linebacker Nick Marco did not play Saturday.
“We’re starting to play better defensively, but we’re still making some mistakes,” Susquehanna coach Dick Bagnall said.
Linebackers Pruitt and Price, tackle Jarrett Coleman and end Stephen Skurski led the way defensively against the Royals.
In another game, Isaac Bulkley broke two long second-half touchdown runs but it was too late for Montrose, which fell at Northwest, 41-16.
The defending District 2 Class A champion Rangers opened a 35-0 lead at the half on three of Bret Rutkoski’s four touchdowns. Rutkoski finished with 126 yards on 13 carries.
Bulkley had 159 yards on just seven carries.
While the second half was being played with mostly running time under the Mercy Rule, Bulkley broke a 49-yard touchdown run with 2:28 left in the third quarter. He scored again on an 88-yard run with 10:51 remaining.
Nathan Clark ran for the two-point conversions after both touchdowns to cut the deficit to 35-16.
Rutkoski clinched the win on a 4-yard run with 6:58 left.
Montrose, which has dropped 10 straight dating back to last season, has not attempted a pass in its first two games.
The Meteors outrushed the Rangers, 272-247.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mike Bedell and Elizabeth Trowbridge gave Elk Lake a sweep of the individual wins in a five-team Lackawanna League cross country opener at Riverside.
Elk Lake opened defense of its unbeaten championship seasons by beating Dunmore and Riverside in both boys’ and girls’ races. Montrose and Blue Ridge also ran in the meet but will not be scored against Elk Lake until later in the season.
The Montrose boys joined the two Elk Lake teams by going 2-0 on Opening Day.
In high school golf, Billy Stranburg and Casey O’Reilly made clutch putts on the final hole Thursday to lift Montrose over Western Wayne, 5-4, in a meeting of the final two Lackawanna League Northern Division unbeatens.
In girls’ soccer, Montrose was the only Lackawanna League Division 2 team to win its opener when it defeated Elk Lake, 1-0.
Mimi DiPhillips converted a Sarah Lundy corner kick in the 14th minute and Katelyn Spellman made seven saves for the shutout.
Mountain View and Forest City played to a 1-1 tie.
In professional baseball, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson finished his International League season with a .279 batting average in 99 games with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Thompson finished tied for seventh in the league with 28 stolen bases.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees had their season come to an end in the IL semifinals.
The Yankees split two extra-inning games in Columbus to open the playoffs before the Clippers eliminated them by winning, 1-0 and 11-5, when the series moved to Moosic.
In professional football, Montrose graduate Chris Snee and the rest of the New York Giants offensive line that won a Super Bowl together less than two years ago was intact for the season opener.
Despite Snee and others in the group missing preseason time with injuries, they were in the starting lineup for a 31-18 victory over the Carolina Panthers. They opened the way for 118 yards rushing on 36 carries and protected quarterback Eli Manning, who was sacked just once.
Saleta Oakley suffered through 15 painful losses with the Keystone College women’s soccer team last year when the Lady Giants went scoreless for the entire season.
With help from Oakley, a sophomore midfielder from Mountain View, Keystone needed just 57 seconds to get on the scoreboard this season.
Oakley assisted the first of four goals by Charlcie Brink September 1 to get Keystone started toward a season-opening, 4-3 victory over the College of St. Elizabeth.
Oakley played every game last season and led the team in shots with 15.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Susquehanna will be on the road in a matchup of 2-0 teams and Montrose will be at home in a game between 0-2 teams when non-league football play continues Friday night.
The Sabers are at Nanticoke, a team that has already doubled last year’s win total and is in first place in the AA-A Division of the Wyoming Valley Conference where titles are determined on a point system and include all 10 games.
The Trojans have scored 73 points in the first two games, one less than the Sabers.
“They have good size,” Bagnall said. “They run the wing-T well. They have good backs.
“They’re doing OK and it will be another long ride for us.”
Montrose is home against Western Wayne.
Our high school football predictions were 13-4 last week (76.5 percent), improving our season record to 22-10 (68.8 percent).
This week’s predictions, with home teams in CAPS: Susquehanna 24, NANTICOKE 21; Western Wayne 18, MONTROSE 17; Dunmore 30, WEST SCRANTON 24; NORTH POCONO 12, Riverside 7; SCRANTON PREP 36, Carbondale 6; HANOVER AREA 44, Mid Valley 29; Abington Heights 41, TUNKHANNOCK 7; MEYERS 24, Lackawanna Trail 12; NORTHWEST 22, Old Forge 8; EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH 24, Scranton 23; VALLEY VIEW 15, Coughlin 0; Delaware Valley 23, HAZLETON AREA 9; WALLENPAUPACK 37, Pocono Mountain East 19; EAST STROUDSBURG NORTH 70, Honesdale 0; Lakeland 20, GAR 14; HOLY CROSS 29, Holy Redeemer 27.
In girls’ soccer, Mountain View is at Montrose Monday, September 20.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Hamlin Wins At Home Track
RICHMOND, Vir. -
Denny Hamlin won again at Richmond, which he calls his "home track."
“It's good,” he said. “I definitely feel like we spent the last two weeks trying to gauge where we are going to be and we brought what we had in the shop and said we are going to try to start our Chase early and that way, when we got to Loudon, New Hampshire, we would be in the swing of our momentum, not trying to falsely start it and I feel like we have done that.
Denny Hamlin, Richmond Cup winner.
“We could have had two wins in a row going into the Chase, but last week is in the past and right now I just feel really confident in the team.”
The Virginia native from Chesterfield fought off numerous challenges from Jimmy Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch to win the last event before NASCAR's 10-race version of a playoff begins next Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The victory was Hamlin's second at his home-state track and his series-leading sixth of the season, which gives him the top seed for the playoff races.
Kyle Busch tried hard to get around his teammate in the closing laps, but could never make the pass, and had to settle for the number two spot.
“I felt like the 11 (Hamlin) was just a step ahead of us tonight and they deserved to win,” said Busch. “They gave us our air pressure that we started running about mid race, and we really started clicking off and going forward. It was good.
“We can't be disappointed in a second tonight. We wanted to win, and we fought hard with Denny, but racing teammates clean like that, and you know, not laying a bumper at all, just making sure that the Gibbs cars had a good, solid night, so that we have everything on our side heading into the Chase here next weekend.”
Johnson finished third and will start the Chase as the number two driver in points.
“We had a solid race, ran in a safe spot behind the lead battle,” said Johnson. “Just a solid night. On pit road, on the track, through practice, qualifying, I mean, everything throughout the weekend was nice for us. Could have used a little bit more speed at the end, but if we are running in the Top 3, week-in and week-out, opportunities will come.
“That was really the first goal we had for the 48 team after some of the tough luck and poor races that we had through the summer months. We are doing the right thing.”
Rounding out the top-10 finishers Saturday night were Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, A J Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards.
Jeff Gordon finished 12th and will start eighth in the Chase.
“We have a shot and we had a great regular season, and I know we are missing the bonus points but I still think we have an awesome team that can do an awful lot in these last ten races,” said Gordon.
“Being up in the points, you know, like we have been allowed us to think ahead a little bit more and put a good game plan together. I feel like we have been doing that. So hopefully that all shows when we get to New Hampshire and get this Chase started. But yeah, I'm looking forward to getting it all started and seeing what we can do.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. never ran with the leaders. He finished six laps down, in 34th place, and is 19th in points.
The 12 drivers who qualified for the playoffs had their points reset after Richmond. Each of the 12 drivers get 5,000 points plus 10 bonus points for each win this season. Hamlin's six wins put him atop the list with 5060 points. Jimmie Johnson, who finished third Saturday night, is seeded second with five wins, for 5050 points. Kyle Busch, runner-up Saturday night, will be seeded fourth. Regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick, who was ninth Saturday night, will be seeded third.
2010 Chase Drivers: 1. Hamlin-5060, 2. Johnson-5050, 3. Harvick-5030, 4. Kyle Busch-5030, 5. Kurt Busch-5020, 6. Stewart-5010, 7. Biffle-5010, 8. J. Gordon-5000, 9. Edwards-5000, 10. Burton-5000, 11. Kenseth-5000, 12. Bowyer-5000
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase drivers (l-r): front - Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Clent Bowyer; back - Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon.
Furnished by NASCAR.
HAPPY HARVICK GETS NATIONWIDE WIN
Polesitter Kevin Harvick held off Nationwide Series points leader Brad Keselowski during a 40-lap run to the finish to win Friday night's Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway.
“This is the future of our company, so we put a lot of effort into this program, knowing that all the other cars were going to go away, and knowing that we had to be good with this car,” said Harvick. “It's easy when you get started in the right direction to keep it going that way.”
Harvick crossed the finish line .256 seconds ahead of Keselowski, who extended his championship lead to 373 points, over Carl Edwards, who ran 10th.
“I was just glad that we were able to work on the car and make it better,” Keselowski said. “That's been one of our larger struggles all year with this particular chassis. So I'm glad that we were able to do that - just a real good show for the new car on the short tracks.”
Trevor Bayne finished third, tying his career best. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came home fourth, followed by Reed Sorenson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Edwards completed the top 10.
A miscue in the pits cost Busch a chance for a record 11th win this season. Under caution on Lap 205, the quick-fill nozzle on one of Busch's fuel cans broke off and remained attached to the car as Busch left pit road, resulting in a one-lap penalty.
Top-10 points leaders after 27 of 35: 1. Keselowski-4302, 2. Edwards-3929, 3. Kyle Busch-3719, 4. Allgaier-3572, 5. Menard-3451, 6. Harvick-3268, 7. Bayne-3111, 8. S. Wallace-3030, 9. Leffler-2987, 10. Gaughan-2896
Weekend Racing: The Sprint Cup cars and Camping World Trucks travel to Loudon, New Hampshire. It will be the first race on the 10-race Chase for the Cup teams. The Nationwide teams do not race again until Sept. 25.
Sat., Sept. 18, Camping World Trucks New Hampshire 200, race 19 of 25: Starting time: 2:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed.
Sun., Sept. 19, Sprint Cup Sylvania 300, race 27 of 36: Starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team will Kevin Harvick drive for next season?
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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