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Issue Home October 13, 2010 Site Home

Local Sports Scene

Dan Kempa Is September’s Athlete Of The Month

Fumble Recovery For Touchdown, Interceptions Key Escape By Sabers
By Tom Robinson

Austin Cowperthwait went up for passes in a crowd twice in the final three minutes Saturday - once on offense and once on defense.

Both times, Cowperthwait came down with the ball and, as a result, the Susquehanna Sabers came away with a hard-fought, 28-22 victory over Holy Cross in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 opener for each team.

Cowperthwait pulled in a tipped pass for a 30-yard gain to key the game-winning, seven-play, 80-yard drive. Without his catch, the Sabers were about to face either third-and-eight or lose the ball on a possible interception.

Dane Addley tipped the pass from Dan Kempa before Cowperthwait pulled it in at the 25.

“I saw Danny throw the ball and I was thinking I’ve got to get up for it,” Cowperthwait said. “The kid tipped it, then I went up and tipped it before I caught it.”

Kempa scrambled around right end for a game-winning, 23-yard touchdown three plays later with 1:37 remaining.

Cowperthwait was not done.

When Addley’s deep pass, was high and hung up too long, Cowperthwait went up among teammates and opponents and came down with the ball with 55 seconds left to seal the win.

“I was expecting a run still because they’re such a run-heavy team,” said Cowperthwait, who followed Cole Mallery and Kempa to give the Sabers interceptions on half of the Holy Cross pass attempts. “I made the wrong read at first, but I was able to get back on time.”

The clutch plays by Cowperthwait, along with Kempa’s touchdowns in the first two and last two minutes of the game, helped Susquehanna pull out the win despite Holy Cross controlling play for a 31 1/2-minute stretch in the middle of the game.

The Crusaders went from a 12-0 deficit one play into the second quarter to a 22-20 lead with two fourth-quarter possessions inside the Sabers 25 as they tried to break the game open.

Mallery, who filled in for the injured Greg Price at halfback, ran 25 yards for a touchdown and Susquehanna’s 12-0 lead with 11:52 left in the half.

The Sabers got a chance to rally when a mishandled snap contributed to the Crusaders being stopped on fourth down at the Susquehanna 20 with 4:17 left.

“They’re a good team,” Susquehanna coach Dick Bagnall said. “We were able to hold them and get the ball back in time to get the win.”

Between those two plays, Holy Cross scored three touchdowns and allowed Susquehanna only one defensive score.

George Wilkes recovered a fumble in the end zone to add to the series of big defensive plays by the Sabers.

The touchdown by Wilkes came during a stretch in which Holy Cross dominated statistically, leading in first downs, 11-2; rushing yards, 186-40; total offense, 220-51; and time of possession, 19:51-11:44.

Robert Heyen led the way. He carried 13 times for 105 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. All of his carries came during the time the Crusaders took control.

Joe Merli finished with 86 yards and the other two Holy Cross touchdowns on 11 carries. He had a 1-yard touchdown, then broke a 54-yarder for a score on the first play after Wilkes’ second-quarter touchdown.

Heyen’s touchdown on the first play of the third quarter gave the Crusaders a lead they held for 22 minutes. Holy Cross turned to a ball-control approach, using all but the last few seconds to get off a play each time the clock was running.

By taking its time, Holy Cross drained 8:54 off the clock in a 15-play, 58-yard drive that did not produce a score.

Kempa’s interception at the 4 ended that drive and the fourth-down stop gave the Sabers one last chance.

Kempa ran four times for 48 yards in the winning drive and hit Mallery with the two-point conversion pass.

“We started to spread them out in the last drive and did some things that we maybe should have been doing more of,” Bagnall said.

Susquehanna had jumped in front 1:18 into the game on a 1-yard Kempa run after he hit Sean Stanley on a 41-yard pass on the game’s first play.

Kempa, who carried 17 times, and Mallery, who carried 11 times, each ran for 81 yards.

They helped the Sabers (5-1) end a three-game winning streak by Holy Cross.

“We came back in the first half and they came back in the second half,” Holy Cross coach Ben Tolerico said.

Nick Marco, Jesse Pruitt, Steve Skurski, Mallery and Jarrett Coleman all had busy days as the Sabers battled the Crusaders power running game, holding 21 of 44 rushing attempts to two yards or less.

Marco had nine tackles, including one for a loss, and five assists. Pruitt had seven tackles, including one for a loss, and six assists. Skurski had eight tackles and four assists. Mallery had four tackles and six assists along with his interception. Coleman made three tackles and assisted on seven others.

Kempa also had four tackles and an assist, in addition to his interception.

Wilkes added two tackles, including a sack for a nine-yard loss, to his fumble recovery for a touchdown.


SCRANTON - Both major records fell during Sunday’s 15th annual Steamtown Marathon, a 26.2-mile race from Forest City to downtown Scranton.

Luke Watson, a Minnesota native now living in State College, won the men’s race in 2:16:41.

Scranton’s Heidi Peoples won for the women’s title for the second time in three years and became the first woman to break 2:40 at the race with a time of 2:39:48.

Both winners qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials with times that broke records which were more than a decade old.

The win left Watson, a 30-year-old Penn State grad student, in tears. He bounced back from the disappointment of having to drop out of the U.S. Marathon Championships in Minnesota a week earlier with stomach cramps.

“It’s a rare opportunity,” the former Notre Dame cross country All-American said of his first marathon victory. “You don’t get a lot of marathons.

“If you’re really going for it, you only get about two a year.”

Peoples, a former Riverside High School standout, missed last year’s race after the birth of her son. She was back and better than two years ago.

“I’m so happy that I broke 2:40,” she said.

Joseph Kelly, a 28-year-old from Union Dale, was the top Susquehanna County finisher. He placed 295th out of 1,952 finishers with a time of 3:21:15.

In high school golf, Montrose’s Jordan Smith led county golfers, finishing tied for 17th overall at the District 2 boys’ championships with a round of 84 in the rain at Fox Hill Country Club.

Teammate Cole Wheaton was tied for 21st in the 84-player field with an 85.

Lance Nealy, another Montrose player, was tied for 26th with an 86.

Montrose’s Casey O’Reilly shot 90, Mountain View’s Tyler Salak had 93, Montrose’s Bill Stanburg 97 and Forest City’s Dom Sparks a 103.

Conditions were no better the next day for the girls’ championships at Scranton Municipal Golf Course.

Forest City’s Katie Zefran was sixth out of 39 players with a 93. Montrose’s Katie Clark was 10th with a 99.

In girls’ tennis, fifth-seeded Courtney Hinds of Montrose won twice before being eliminated from the District 2 singles tournament.

Hinds defeated Shital Patel of MMI, 6-4, 6-2, and Hope Murray of Tunkhannock, 6-1, 6-0. She then lost in the quarterfinals to fourth-seed and eventual finalist Kendra Croker of Scranton Prep, 6-3, 6-2.

The other three county players each won once before being eliminated.

Montrose’s Kayla Geibel beat Hanover Area’s Marsha Geiser, 6-0, 6-3, then lost to second-seeded Caroline Meuser of Wyoming Seminary by the same score.

Elk Lake’s Hunter Cole rallied past GAR’s Katelyn Carley, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, before being eliminated by seventh-seeded Fallyn Boich of Holy Redeemer, 6-2, 6-0.

Cindy Good from Elk Lake handled Riverside’s Liz O’Hearn, 6-0, 6-1, before being blanked by Scranton Prep’s Croker.


Anthony Dorunda caught a 20-yard pass for the tying touchdown with 2:36 remaining Saturday when Wilkes University rallied from a 22-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Albright University, 35-28, in overtime.

The touchdown was the first of the season for Dorunda, a Blue Ridge graduate who played quarterback on the Susquehanna football team as part of the cooperative sponsorship between the two schools.

Dorunda starts at tight end for the Colonels (3-2). In five games, he is second on the team in receiving with 12 catches for 119 yards.


County rivals meet Friday night when Susquehanna (1-0 in the division, 5-1 overall) plays at Montrose (0-1, 0-6) in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 game.

Last week’s high school football predictions were 7-3 (70.0 percent), dropping our season record to 55-23 (70.5 percent). This week’s predictions, with home teams in CAPS, are: Susquehanna 35, MONTROSE 12; Old Forge 25, LACKAWANNA TRAIL 9; Western Wayne 33, CARBONDALE 12; Riverside 68, HONESDALE 6; DUNMORE 21, Lakeland 20; VALLEY VIEW 26, Delaware Valley 9; North Pocono 14, SCRANTON 7; West Scranton 39, WALLENPAUPACK 31; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 39, Scranton Prep 6; HOLY CROSS 26, Mid Valley 23.

In girls’ tennis, the District 2 doubles tournament, which was scheduled to open Tuesday, finishes up on Wednesday at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre. The team tournament, which Montrose is in contention to be a part of, opens Friday.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

Stewart Gets California Win

FONTANA, Calif. - Tony Stewart is definitely back in the Chase. Stewart jumped out front on a green/white/checker restart, and won Sunday’s California Cup race, ahead of Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson. It was Stewart’s 30th career Cup victory, but his first at the Fontana track.

Tony Stewart, winner of California Cup race.

“I knew I was going to have my hands full with him (Jimmie Johnson) on that last restart,” said Stewart. “I wasn’t sure we were good enough to win, but we did it.

“I know we can still win this thing (the Chase), but we need some help. It’s still a long way, but if we can keep winning, it’ll be much easier.”

He moved up five spots and is now 107 points back of Johnson, the leader.

Clint Bowyer passed Jimmie Johnson on the final lap, then held on to finish second.

“I guess I’m happy with the finish, I just wish we could have won,” said Bowyer. “I’m frustrated, because I wanted to redeem my team, and show our win two week’s ago was not a fluke. I guess we’ll have to wait until the next race.”

Bowyer remains last in the 12-man chase field, 247 points out.

Johnson challenged for the lead in the final laps of the race, but had to settle for third.

“Our car just didn’t have anything on the bottom side of the track,” said Johnson. “I thought we had a great performance. We had a top-3 and we kept our momentum going.”

Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, and David Reutimann were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Kyle Busch, winner of Saturday’s Nationwide race lost an engine and finished 35th. He dropped from seventh to ninth in points.

“There was a loud pop coming out of turn-2 when I had it wide open,” said Busch. “I don’t know what happened. The engine just broke.”

Chase Leaders with six to go: 1. Johnson-5673, 2. Hamlin-5637, 3. Harvick-5619, 4. J. Gordon-5558, 5. Stewart-5566, 6. Kurt Busch-5533, 7. Edwards-5511, 8. Burton-5496, 9. Kyle Busch-5486, 10. Biffle-5458, 11. Kenseth-5432, 12. Bowyer-5426.


Kyle Busch needs to buy his pit crew a steak dinner, because they deserve the credit for his win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race.

Strong on short runs but no match for Kevin Harvick on longer ones, Busch rallied from a pit-road speeding penalty to beat NASCAR Nationwide points leader Brad Keselowski to the finish line by 1.034 seconds.

“The pit stops were what got us there,” Busch said. “Just being able to have the guys give us a good pit stop on that last time and get out front when it mattered most and kind of set sail on the restarts.

“Harvick had a really, really good car on long runs. He showed that today - he probably had the best car. We could keep up with him for about eight or 10 laps, but after that, he started getting away from us.”

The victory was Busch’s 12th of the year, leaving him six behind series leader Mark Martin in career wins.

To Kevin Harvick, on the other hand, there was little doubt that his pit crew lost it.

“The guys in the shop did a great job in transitioning to some new setup packages and doing the things they need to do to make them fast - and those are the guys I feel the worst for,” Harvick said. “We’ve got guys that just roll up on the weekend and just flat-out aren’t doing a very good job on pit road.”

Harvick ran third, despite leading a race-high 86 laps. Carl Edwards, second in the series standings, came home fourth and trails Keselowski by 384 points with five races left. Joey Logano finished fifth.

Danica Patrick saw a promising run spoiled when contact from James Buescher turned her No. 7 Chevrolet into the wall on Lap 141 of 150 to cause the sixth and final caution. Patrick was running 17th at the time, hoping for her first lead-lap finish in her eighth NASCAR Nationwide start, but the wreck relegated her to a 30th-place result.

Top-10 Nationwide leaders after 30 of 35: 1. Keselowski-4764, 2. Edwards-4380, 3. Kyle Busch-4279, 4. Allgaier-3938, 5. Menard-3866, 6. Harvick-3763, 7. Lognao-3392, 8. Bayne-3391, 9. S. Wallace-3351, 10. Leffler-3315.

Top-10 Camping World Truck Series 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.


NASCAR and ESPN are constantly talking about what it will take to regain the number of television viewers that have left the sport.

There have been many statements made by both parties about race starting times, the Chase, the Car of Tomorrow, and several other factors, that have caused the sport to lose viewers.

If they were to ask me, I’d tell them it’s the lack of excitement during the races.

I make my living writing about NASCAR, but yesterday I became painfully aware of how much NASCAR racing has lost its lustre.

I enjoy watching college football. Last Saturday night there were two games on at the same time, LSU against Florida, and Auburn versus Kentucky. Both games went right down to the wire. The outcome of neither game was decided until the last eight seconds.

Watching these four teams play kept me on edge. They were so packed with action, that I constantly switched channels to catch as much of the action of each as possible.

Both had thrilling, exciting finishes.

They grabbed my emotions.


Here were groups of young men putting forth individual effort. Each trying to give his best.

NASCAR racing on the other hand is about a set of polished drivers, piloting a mechanical machine around a set course, with a backup of 40-50 other people, and a multi-million dollar budget.

Big-time racing used to be about individual effort, but that went out the window when it succumbed to Corporate America’s greed.

I will continue to faithfully write about NASCAR, but until it can reach me emotionally, it can never be number one.

Weekend Racing: Race number five in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship will be held at Charlotte.

Fri., Oct. 15, Nationwide Series Dollar General 300, race 31 of 35; Starting 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.

Sat., Oct. 16 Sprint Cup Bank of America 500, race 31 of 36; Starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC.

Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup wins did Earnhardt Sr. have?

Last Week’s Question: How many Cup championships did Dale Earnhardt Sr. win? Answer. Seven; 1980, ’86, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93, ‘94.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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Dan Kempa Is September’s Athlete Of The Month
By Tom Robinson

Dan Kempa entered the season as an established threat to run the ball as an option quarterback.

The Blue Ridge senior, who is a member of the Susquehanna football team in a cooperative sponsorship between the two schools, showed he had not lost that ability when he took the first play of the season - and the first play of the second game - for a touchdown.

With the help of a veteran line and talented receiving corps, Kempa has also added the threat of a deep passing game to the Sabers attack.

Kempa averaged more than 10 yards per carry and threw more than one fourth of his passes for touchdowns during September to help the Sabers win their first three games before suffering one loss. For that effort, he has earned Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month, an award he also claimed last season.

“We knew we had a great line coming back,” said Kempa, who also plays in the defensive backfield. “With their experience and the receivers we have, we knew we would be able to get some big plays.”

Kempa produced plenty with his hand in 13 touchdowns in the first month. He carried 53 times for 544 yards and five touchdowns while hitting 13 of 30 passes for 368 yards and eight scores.

“I’m learning more,” Kempa said. “I’m able to audible to passes, the offensive line is blocking great and the receivers are running the routes to get open.”

Kempa’s most consistent contributions remain as a runner where he helped the Sabers open the season by averaging 42.7 points per game against Wyoming Valley Conference opponents Hanover Area, Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke.

The overall performance of the past three years has led to Kempa receiving college interest from all four levels and for consideration as a quarterback, defensive back or “athlete” that a school would later determine how to use.

“Hopefully, I’ll go on to college and play somewhere,” Kempa said.

In the meantime, he has led the Sabers into a spot where they are expected to contend for the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 title and a District 2 Class AA playoff berth.

“We have a really good team this year,” Kempa said. “We just have to play smarter and stop making the penalties and little mistakes that will hurt us when we play good teams.”

Dan, the son of Joe and Charlene Kempa of Jackson, is also a member of the Blue Ridge track team where he placed fourth in District 2 Class AA in the javelin and 400-meter relay. He made the varsity basketball team as a sophomore, sat out last season to rest a leg injury and plans to play again this season.

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