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CHAPMAN LAKE - Susquehanna’s perfect football record was spoiled by a near-perfect effort from the Lakeland defense Friday night.
The Chiefs scored 29 first-half points, but the point total produced in what wound up as a 35-8 victory was all about what happened on the defensive side of the ball.
Lakeland did not pick up a first down in the second quarter, but still managed to score 20 points in an outburst that took just 1:23. Turnovers and field position allowed the Chiefs to dominate the game between teams that could meet again in the District 2 Class AA playoffs.
“Defensively, we played well,” Lakeland coach Jeff Wasilchak said. “We were disciplined and did what we were supposed to do.”
The Chiefs did what seemed impossible in the first three weeks of the season. They destroyed a high-powered Susquehanna option attack that had produced 42.7 points per game.
“I really was pleasantly surprised,” Wasilchak said.
Alex Filarsky went 37 yards and Derrick Hanley went 26 with second-quarter interceptions that they returned for touchdowns to start and end the 20-point burst.
In between, Al Tuzze ran 3 yards for his second touchdown on the second play after a fumbled kickoff gave Lakeland possession at the Susquehanna 6.
Tuzze had a 1-yard touchdown run just 2:10 into the game after Cody Delfino recovered a Susquehanna fumble on the game’s first play.
The Chiefs needed to move just 24 yards to jump in front.
The defense played so well that the Chiefs actually had chances to score more in the first half.
Steve Munley brought Susquehanna’s Greg Price down for a 5-yard loss and safety with some help from Kyle Kiehart for a 9-0 lead with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
The Chiefs got the ball right back after the free kick at the Sabers 33 but could not add to their lead.
It was the second straight drive that started in Susquehanna territory but did not produce any points. Lakeland ended the half with just two first downs and 62 yards total offense.
Overall, Susquehanna’s average possession started at its 22 while Lakeland’s average possession started at the Susquehanna 42.
Lakeland put the game into the Mercy Rule with its longest scoring possession, covering 60 yards in four plays after the second-half kickoff. Tyler Brady ran for the final 33 yards for a 35-0 lead with 10:07 still remaining in the third quarter.
With the clock running, the pounding ended soon after.
The Sabers ran just three offensive plays in the first 20 minutes of the second half. They had only 65 yards total offense at that point before hurrying down the field to score with 2.4 seconds left on Dan Kempa’s 39-yard pass to Sean Stanley and two-point conversion to Cole Mallery.
Kempa also threw a 38-yard pass to Mallery in the drive. Kempa was the game’s leading rusher with 52 yards on 14 carries.
Susquehanna played well defensively to keep Lakeland from piling on even more points in the first half.
Despite holding the ball for almost 27 minutes, Lakeland managed just 188 yards total offense.
The Sabers defense was led by linebacker Nick Marco, who made eight tackles and assisted on six others. Marco made three tackles for nine yards in losses.
Price, Jessie Pruitt, George Wilkes and Eric Onyon all had five tackles and made other contributions.
Price had four assists and broke up a pass. Pruitt had a tackle for a six-yard loss and three assists. Wilkes had a sack, another tackle for a loss and rushed the passer into an incompletion. Onyon had a sack for a 10-yard loss.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Dunmore scored on the first five possessions to keep Montrose winless with a 40-8 non-league football victory.
Daiquon Buckley carried 15 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns for the Bucks, who opened leads of 20-0 after one quarter and 33-0 at halftime.
Ethan Jones carried 20 times for 100 yards and scored Montrose’s only touchdown with 4:08 remaining.
In high school golf, Honesdale defeated Montrose, 5 1/2-3 1/2, in the final regular-season match to spoil the Meteors’ unbeaten record.
Montrose still went 10-1 to tie Western Wayne for first in the Lackawanna League Northern Division and gained the division's top seed because of the head-to-head victory over the Wildcats earlier in the season.
The Meteors received a bye in the 12-team playoffs and were scheduled to open at home against Montrose Monday in the quarterfinals.
Final Northern Division standings were: Montrose 10-1, Western Wayne 10-1, Wallenpaupack 8-3, Honesdale 7-3-1, Lakeland 7-3-1, Lackawanna Trail 7-4, Forest City 5-6, Mountain View 4-7, Carbondale 3-8, Elk Lake 2-9, Blue Ridge 1-10, Susquehanna 1-10.
In girls’ volleyball, Mountain View ended Dunmore’s 41-match Lackawanna League winning streak, 15-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-18.
The win allowed the Lady Eagles to tie the Lady Bucks for second place at 5-1, one-half match behind Lackawanna Trail (6-1).
In cross country, defending champion Elk Lake swept another Lackawanna League cluster, leaving the Warriors among four boys’ and two girls’ unbeatens.
Brad Sparks, a senior from Forest City, is part of the University of Scranton golf team that is alone in third place at the midway point of the Empire 8 Conference Championships.
The Empire 8 conducts its golf championships with two rounds in the fall and two more in the spring.
Each team counts its best four scores out of six in each round.
Sparks tied for the fourth-best Scranton score in the opening round with a 9-over-par, 80 at the Yahnundasis Country Club in Whitesboro, N.Y. His 81 was not part of the team score in the second round. Sparks is tied for fourth best on the team at 161 through 36 holes.
Moravian will host the final two rounds April 16-17.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Susquehanna (3-1) plays its only home night football game of the year Friday against Carbondale (0-4).
Montrose is also home, playing Honesdale in a meeting of winless teams. The Meteors will try to snap their 12-game losing streak against a team that has lost 21 straight.
Last week’s predictions were 8-2 (80.0 percent), bringing our season record to 42-16 (72.4 percent).
This week’s predictions, with the home teams in CAPS: SUSQUEHANNA 40, Carbondale 0; MONTROSE 37, Honesdale 20; Lakeland 33, LACKAWANNA TRAIL 8; SCRANTON 16, Scranton Prep 10; Dunmore 27, MID VALLEY 8; RIVERSIDE 30, Old Forge 12; NORTH POCONO 39, West Scranton 18; WALLENPAUPACK 29, Valley View 21; Abington Heights 39, DELAWARE VALLEY 8; Western Wayne 23, HOLY CROSS 8.
In golf, Lackawanna League players will try to qualify for the District 2 tournament when the boys play Wednesday and the girls Thursday at Elmhurst Country Club.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Johnson Bounces Back At Dover
DOVER, Del. - Jimmie Johnson showed all the fans that thought his No. 48 team was washed up how wrong they were.
In addition to qualifying first, leading the most laps, he won Sunday’s Sprint Cup AAA 400 race by over two seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Burton.
“I feel like a huge obstacle has been lifted from my shoulders,” said Johnson, who moved into second in the Chase. “We rebounded from last week. We’ve won a Chase race, and I think we did a great job today.
Jimmie Johnson, winner of Sunday's Cup race at Dover.
“We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
Car owner Rick Hendrick agreed with Johnson.
“I think a lot of people were counting the 48-team out,” said Hendrick. “It’s been a great day for us, and I believe everyone can see what a great team we are.”
Runner-up Jeff Burton was never able to challenge Johnson in the closing laps.
“We had a good car,” said Burton. “We didn’t have a good qualifying effort. It’s been one of those years where we’ve been really good and haven’t been able to capitalize on it.
“The 48-car was fast today. We put the pressure on him, but we couldn’t stay with him.”
The remaining top-10 finishers were Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, and A.J. Allmendinger.
Denny Hamlin’s lead over Jimmie Johnson is now 35 points.
“It was a decent day,” said Hamlin. “We didn’t have the best car, but we did what we needed to do. If we can continue to do like we did today, we’ll be O.K. Today we overcame one of our obstacle tracks. This track has bitten us before, so to leave here with the lead feels great.
“I believe that from here on out, we’ll do better.”
Top-12 Chase leaders after 28 of 36: 1. Hamlin-5368, 2. Johnson-5333, 3. Kyle Busch-5323, 4. Kurt Busch-5309, 5. Harvick-5303, 6. Edwards-5295, 7. Burton-5288, 8. J. Gordon-5285, 9. Biffle-5228, 10. Stewart-5206, 11. Kenseth-5203, 12. Bowyer-5133
A MONSTER NATIONWIDE FINISH FOR BUSCH
Kyle Busch led 172 laps of the 200-lap Nationwide race at Dover Raceway for his 11th victory of the season. The win allowed him to surpass his mark of 10 wins in 2008, and break the tie he had for wins in the Nationwide Series with Sam Ard.
“It’s very special,” Busch said of the record. “Sam is a great individual and was a great driver in his time (early 1980s). For myself to be able to come out and compete at that level and get as many wins in a season is hard enough to do, but then to go out there and beat a record is really great.
“From where Sam Ard was in his day and where we are today, I feel like a lot has changed in this sport, and, of course, it’s always challenging to go out and get a win on a given weekend. But for us to win 11 this year is very, very special to me, and that’s why I say it’s so special to (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and to all these guys on the team, because they’re all part of it.”
Despite a vibration that gave him some nervous moments in the closing laps, Busch beat polesitter and JGR teammate Joey Logano to the finish line by .400 seconds, marking the 11th time JGR cars have finished 1-2 in the series.
Top-10 points leaders after 28 of 35: 1. Keselowski-4414, 2. Edwards-4094, 3. Kyle Busch-3914, 4. Allgaier-3656, 5. Menard-3597, 6. Harvick-3423, 7. Bayne-3261, 8. S. Wallace-3157, 9. Leffler-3129, 10. Logano-3047
ROOKIE DILLON WINS VEGAS TRUCK RACE
Rookie Austin Dillon won Saturday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas for his second truck win of the season.
Top-10 points leaders after 20 of 25: 1. Bodine-3196, 2. Almirola-2934, 3. Sauter-2896, 4. Dillon-2808, 5. Peters-2773, 6. Crafton-2773, 7. Hornaday-2687, 8. Skinner-2549, 9. Starr-2504, 10. Lofton-2379
WHEN A WIN, IS NOT A WIN
By now everyone knows that Clint Bowyer’s No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was found to be illegal by NASCAR after the New Hampshire race, and he was docked 150 points, dropping him to 12th in the points.
This story is not about NASCAR’s decision to penalize Bowyer, but who the real race winner should be.
The point I wish to make in this story is NASCAR allowed the win to stand, which makes no sense to me.
After Bowyer’s win, some drivers came up and gave the 33-car “love taps” to congratulate him. As most winners do, Bowyer did a burnout that was shortened because he ran out of fuel. A large tow truck pushed his car to victory lane.
Before and after the race the car went through technical inspection and the template clearance was passed. The car passed post-race inspection and was then taken by NASCAR to its Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. where it underwent additional testing.
Here’s where the rub comes in. It was discovered that the left rear of the car was 60 thousands of an inch too high. That is a little less than a 1/16th of an inch. It is about the thickness of a quarter. Remember the love taps on the track? Remember the tow truck? Was the car touched after it went to NASCAR’s R&D center?
You and I, and all the other race fans will never know.
Bowyer and Childress pleaded their innocence in front of a packed media center at Dover International Speedway this past week, but NASCAR has not backed off.
Bowyer discounted how a fraction of an inch in height disparity could give his car a performance advantage.
Second-place finisher Denny Hamlin disagreed.
“You can talk about how small the thing was off and you can really try to say that 60-thousandths didn’t help him perform any better - that is a crock,” Hamlin said. “Let me tell you something. That helps a lot.”
It’s a long standing rule that goes back to the beginnings of NASCAR, that victories are never taken away even if a rules infraction is discovered. That meant Bowyer got the win regardless of whether his car was illegal or not.
Why should any team retain a victory if they had cheated? I understand the logic that the fans at the track left knowing Bowyer had won the race, but does it make it right that his team did it by not following the rules? It has happened so often in the history of this sport that it probably is not on the mind of most fans, but does that make it right?
Just last week, football player, Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner had to return his trophy, because the NCAA decided that his college team, the University of Southern California had violated some recruiting rules that year.
It’s time for NASCAR to get tougher. If the winning car is found to be illegal, grant the victory to the second place car. Nothing else makes any sense.
Childress has appealed the penalty, and their appeal will be heard on Wednesday.
Weekend Racing: The cup and Nationwide teams are at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. The trucks do not race again until October 23.
Sat., Oct. 2, Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300, race 29 of 35; Starting time: 3 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Oct. 3, Sprint Cup Price Chopper 400, race 29 of 36; Starting time 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Which two drivers ended their NASCAR Cup careers in 2005?
Last Week’s Question: When was the 10-race Chase for the championship instituted? Answer. 2004 was the first season the new format was used.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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