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The Susquehanna Sabers have relied on their option running attack for many victories through the years.
The Sabers showed Friday night that, if challenged, they can now beat teams through the air as well.
Dan Kempa has already had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons rushing from his quarterback position, but coach Dick Bagnall said from the start of the this season that a strong group of receivers and Kempa’s continued development at the position would make him more of a passing threat.
That was evident Friday when Nanticoke crowded the line of scrimmage and Kempa threw four touchdown passes while running for one to lead the Sabers to a 54-19 rout.
Kempa attempted just six passes, but hit four of them for 151 yards.
The game shaped up as a meeting of unbeatens, with Nanticoke at home trying to add to its surprising start.
Susquehanna ended the suspense early, opening a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and sending the game to the Mercy Rule when it arrived at halftime with a 42-7 lead. The advantage grew to 48-7 after three quarters before Nanticoke cut into the final margin with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
The Sabers were unable to score on their first play for the first time this season, but they quickly went about piling up the points after having to punt the ball away at the end of their first possession.
The first two touchdowns came on consecutive offensive plays with only a Nanticoke fumbled kickoff in between.
Cole Mallery’s running ability finished off a 42-yard touchdown pass from Kempa and Sean Stanley followed with a 38-yard touchdown reception for a 13-0 lead.
Stanley made sure the Sabers were able to strike twice in less than 30 seconds for the second time, making the lead 28-0 with 2:13 still left in the first quarter.
After Greg Price ran 42 yards for a score, Stanley returned an interception for a touchdown.
Nanticoke’s Edwin Agosto, who ran for 115 yards, went 50 yards for the first of his two touchdowns to cut the lead to 28-7 midway through the second quarter.
Susquehanna again produced two quick scores during the final two minutes of the half. Kempa threw 60 yards to Austin Cowperthwait for one touchdown and ran for the other.
The Sabers took the second-half kickoff and added to their lead with a seven-play, 64-yard scoring drive. Kempa and Cowperthwait connected again on an 11-yard touchdown on fourth-and-seven.
In another game, Western Wayne defeated Montrose, 36-6, in a meeting between teams seeking their first victory.
Neither team threw the ball in the first quarter when Western Wayne took the opening kickoff and went the length of the field for an 8-0 lead.
Montrose attempted its first two passes of the season in the second quarter while the Wildcats were stretching their lead to 15-0.
Rob Siclari returned a punt and a fumble for touchdowns less than a minute apart in the third quarter to break the game open and give the Wildcats a 29-0 lead.
Quarterback Brett Johnson, who finished 2-for-3 passing, ran 35 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to break the shutout.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Blue Ridge’s Jacob Hinkley finished third out of 134 varsity boys’ runners during the 17th annual Lackawanna County Commissioners’ Cross Country Invitational at McDade Park in Scranton Saturday.
Hinkley helped Blue Ridge finish seventh out of 19 teams with 198 points. Valley View beat Wallenpaupack, 85-119, for the team title.
Aaron Wilkinson of Valley View won in 15:47 to beat out Pittston Area’s David McLean (16:10) and Hinkley (16:22). Mike Robbs of Blue Ridge finished 10th in 16:51.
Blue Ridge’s Ethan Mansfield won the junior varsity boys’ race, which consisted of 33 runners.
Ivy Christenson of Susquehanna was sixth out of 177 junior high girls’ runners to lead the Lady Sabers to a seventh-place finish out of 22 teams.
Susquehanna was 17th out of 19 teams in junior high boys.
A total of 677 runners competed in six races.
Elk Lake swept its Lackawanna League clusters last week to improve to 6-0 in both boys’ and girls’ cross country.
In boys’ soccer, Carbondale defeated Forest City, 4-2, Friday to end the Foresters’ Lackawanna League Division 3 winning streak at 32 games.
In girls’ soccer, Forest City defeated Elk Lake, 3-0, and Montrose, 5-2, to take over the Lackawanna Division 2 lead with a 2-0-1 record.
In golf, Montrose improved to 9-0 to remain first in the Lackawanna Northern Division.
Three Susquehanna County athletes were included when Keystone College was well represented in the Colonial States Athletic Conference weekly awards that were announced September 13.
Jenna Fancher, a senior from Mountain View, was named Runner of the Week in women’s cross country.
Brackney Brotzman, a junior from Montrose, was named Player of the Week in field hockey.
Leah Simko, a senior from Mountain View, made the Honor Roll in women’s volleyball.
The Giants also had Jeff Poindexter named Runner of the Week in men’s cross country and Jamie Ellis selected to the men’s soccer Honor Roll.
Fancher finished first in 21:42 to lead the hosts to the title of the Keystone College Invitational.
Brotzman scored her first two goals of the season to lead Keystone from behind for a 3-2 win over Wells College. She erased a 1-0 deficit then broke a 2-2 tie with the winning goal with 4:24 to play.
Simko helped the Lady Giants go 3-2, including 3-1 at the Kean University Tournament where she earned all-tournament honors with 112 assists, eight digs and four aces.
THE WEEK AHEAD
While Division 1 of the Lackawanna Football Conference moves into divisional games, the rest of the LFC teams have two more weeks of non-league play.
Division 2 and 3 teams play each other this week.
Susquehanna (3-0) is at Lakeland (2-1) and Montrose (0-3) is at Dunmore (1-2) Friday night.
Last week’s predictions were 12-4 (75.0 percent), bringing our season record to 34-14 (70.8).
This week’s predictions, with the home teams in CAPS: Susquehanna 29, LAKELAND 13; DUNMORE 34, Montrose 0; WEST SCRANTON 39, Delaware Valley 27; VALLEY VIEW 29, Scranton 0; WESTERN WAYNE 37, Mid Valley 12; Holy Cross 25, CARBONDALE 14; RIVERSIDE 21, Lackawanna Trail 3; OLD FORGE 60, Honesdale 0; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 46, Wallenpaupack 23; North Pocono 28, SCRANTON PREP 12.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Bowyer Outlasts Stewart At New Hampshire
LOUDON, N.H. - The first of this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is history, with Clint Bowyer beating Denny Hamlin for the win in Sunday’s Sylvania 300.
But Tony Stewart was the big loser. Stewart, who had pitted earlier than either Bowyer or Hamlin for fuel, rolled the dice and came up two laps short of the finish line on fuel.
Bowyer, who was running second, assumed the lead from the gasless Stewart, and finished the 300-lap race about six-car-lengths ahead of Hamlin.
“I don’t know what happened to my carburetor,” said Bowyer. “I couldn’t get going on the restarts, but that may actually have helped me save enough fuel to finish on.
Clint Bowyer, winner of Sunday's New Hampshire Cup race.
“I didn’t know what was going on with Tony, I was just trying to keep up with him, but things worked out for us.
“I had a funny feeling going into this race that this might be our day.”
Bowyer moved all the way up from 12th to second in Chase points.
Hamlin’s runner-up position made him the new Chase leader.
“We came in and got fuel while those guys stayed out,” said Hamlin. “We had plenty of fuel. We made a charge there at the end, but what can I say, we just came up short. But it was a good run, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position for the Chase.”
Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, and Sam Hornish were the remaining top-10 finishers.
Jeff Burton, another Chase driver was running third, when he ran out of fuel, three laps from the finish. He coasted to a 15th place finish.
Polesitter Brad Keselowski finished 18th.
Tony Stewart’s fuel gamble proved costly. His 24th place finish dropped him from sixth to 11th in points.
“I’m certainly not happy about what happened today,” said Stewart. “It’s hard to lose one like that when you have the fastest car. It’s a tough way to start the Chase.”
Jimmie Johnson got caught up in a wreck on lap 224, which damaged the font-end of his car. He finished 25th.
Top-10 Chase leaders with nine races left: 1. Hamlin-5230, 2. Bowyer-5195, 3. Harvick-5185, 4. Kyle Busch-5168, 5. Jeff Gordon-5155, 6. Kurt Busch-5144, 7. Johnson-5138, 8. Edwards-5135, 9. Biffle-5122, 10. Burton-5118, 11. Stewart-5106, 12. Kenseth-5094
BUSCH WINS NEW HAMPSHIRE TRUCK RACE
LOUDON, N.H. - Kyle Busch raced to his fifth victory this season in the Camping World Truck Series, passing James Buescher on the final restart Saturday at New Hampshire Speedway.
Top-10 finishers: Busch, Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Matt Crafton, Austin Dillon, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Aric Almirola, Todd Bodine, and Bobby Hamilton Jr.
With just six races left before the 2010 truck championship is decided, Todd Bodine has a 257 point lead over Aric Almirola.
Top-10 leaders: 1. Bodine-3036, 2. Amlirola-2779, 3. Sauter-2726, 4. Peters-2683, 5. Crafton-2618, 6. Dillon-2613, 7. Hornaday-2552, 8. Skinner-2458, 9. Starr-2372, 10. White-2254
LITTLE DOGS OUT, BIG DOGS IN DANGER
The underdog is gone in NASCAR, and if sponsorship continues to dry up, some of the big dogs might be on the way out as well.
For those of you who haven’t noticed, Mark Martin’s No. 5 Hendrick Motor Sports Cup car has been running with Hendrickcars.com painted on the side.
Jeff Gordon, another Hendrick team driver is losing DuPont, his major sponsor of 20 years. Gordon recently saw a potential deal with Walmart fall through.
“The Walmart thing was a little disappointing because I feel like everyone wanted to see that company in this sport,” he said.
When Hendrick has problems getting big corporate sponsors, what chance do the little teams have?
And it takes millions and millions of dollars to run a full Cup schedule.
Years ago, you could believe that a small underfunded team could win a big NASCAR race.
Today that would be an illusion.
In the past there was the belief that anything could happen, a driver could win a first race, and a veteran could win his last.
Now that feeling is gone. The sleeping underdogs just lie-dormant, perhaps dreaming of better times, days when there was at least the illusion of a big win.
Races today are too predictable, not because of the new car, or even the racing itself-that’s pretty much the same. There’s just no real hope anymore that this week’s winner might be Joe Nemechek, Kenny Wallace, or Tony Raines.
Those days are past. Now, if the winner doesn’t come from one of the Big Three, he’ll come from close by, or from a heavily funded factory team. He won’t come from the independent ranks, or those of the underfunded. The underdog is gone in NASCAR.
Kyle Busch recently built a large racing facility to house three Camping World truck teams and one Nationwide team.
He lost funding for two teams and has cut back to one truck team and one car team.
“It’s not an advantage to own a race team right now,” said Busch. “We’ve seen two major sponsors leave because of the economy. Without the right sponsor, it’s going to be hard for us to stay in business. The people that have the money to do it, either can't or don't want to do it. The guys that want to do it don't have the money to do it.
“We just won’t be able to put teams together like we have in the past.”
Busch said he now has about 50 employees on his payroll, and expects to layoff a big majority of them as soon as the season is over.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the Dover Monster Mile. This will be the second of ten Chase races for the Cup teams. The Camping World Trucks are at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track.
Sat., Sept. 25, Nationwide Series Dover 200, race 28 of 35; Starting time: 3 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Sat., Sept. 25, Camping World Smith’s 350, race 20 of 25; Starting time: 9 p.m. ET; TV: Speed.
Sun., Sept. 26, Sprint Cup AAA 400, race 28 of 36; Starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: When was the 10-race Chase for the championship instituted?
Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team will Kevin Harvick drive for next season? Answer. He will continue to drive the No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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