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CHAPMAN LAKE - Compared to their first meeting, Susquehanna moved the ball much better against Lakeland right from the start of Friday night’s District 2 Class AA football semifinal.
The Sabers kept the Chiefs from scoring for more than 33 1/2 minutes at one stretch, staying within striking distance for much longer.
The end result, however, was similar to the regular-season meeting between the teams.
Lakeland used its ability to force turnovers and shut down Susquehanna’s big-play option offense to move into the district final with a 20-3 victory.
“We talked to our kids all week about the two things we had to do,” Susquehanna coach Dick Bagnall said. “For us to win, our tackles have got to block the linebackers. We did a very poor job of that.
“And, we can’t have turnovers. The last couple weeks, we’ve been better about avoiding turnovers.
“But, the floodgates just opened like the first time.”
The first time around, Lakeland forced four turnovers, but two were interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in the first half to help the Chiefs reach the Mercy Rule early in the second half of a 35-8 romp.
The Sabers made the Chiefs work much harder Friday night, the but the six turnovers Lakeland forced, including four in the fourth quarter, kept Susquehanna from pulling off an upset.
“The difference in the game was turnovers,” Lakeland coach Jeff Wasilchak said. “That was the difference in the first game, too.”
Lakeland’s defense caused much of the trouble but Susquehanna self-destructed at times also.
The Sabers fumbled a total of six times, losing four, but Bagnall pointed out that the two they did not lose were also costly. The Sabers dropped an option pitch with an open sideline ahead on the second play of the game, leading to a loss of yardage instead of a big game and they fumbled a snap after reaching the Lakeland 4, forcing them to settle for a field goal on the deepest penetration of the game.
“It was similar in the sense of turnovers, but we were able to move the ball and make some things happen,” Bagnall said. “They knew they were in a dogfight.
“We put up a great fight. I’m proud of our kids.
“They got Susquehanna back on the football map. Hopefully, this continues down the road.”
The Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 champion Sabers finish the season 9-2 with both losses coming to the same team on the same field.
Lakeland, the LFC Division 2 champ, improves to 10-1 and gets a chance to avenge its only loss when it plays GAR at Wyoming Valley West’s Spartan Stadium in Kingston Friday night.
GAR (10-1) rolled over Lake-Lehman, 42-15, in the other semifinal. Kurtis Thomas ran for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Darrell Crawford ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns, hit five of seven passes for 39 yards and returned an interception for another score.
Lakeland threatened to put its trip to the finals away early.
The Chiefs drove the Sabers back seven yards on the first three plays, then scored in three.
Ryan Nichols, got started on his way to 119 yards on 16 carries, by running 53 yards on the second play to set up his own 1-yard touchdown. He also kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 8:44 left in the quarter.
A.J. Rudalavage’s sack forced a fumble that Al Tuzze recovered for Lakeland at the Susquehanna 36 on the first play of the second quarter.
Alex Filarsky turned a Kyle Kiehart pass into a 33-yard touchdown on the third play and the Chiefs had a 13-0 lead with 10:17 still remaining in the half.
Lakeland, however, was unable to score again until the final minute.
“They definitely got better since last time,” Nichols said. “They wouldn’t let up.
“They kept hitting.”
Kempa put together a pair of 32-yard runs in a drive that produced his 22-yard field goal with 1:39 left in the half.
Susquehanna crossed midfield three times in the second half while trailing by 10.
The closest the Sabers got, however, was the Chiefs 22 before Tyler Brady recovered a Kempa fumble with 7:11 left.
Susquehanna forced a punt, but muffed it.
Derrick Hanley recovered, then finished off the Sabers by breaking a 38-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds remaining.
Lakeland led, 16-10, in first downs.
The Chiefs also had leads in yardage: 252-123 rushing, 68-52 passing and 320-175 total. Lakeland had a 145-14 lead in second-half rushing yardage.
Lakeland had a 15:38-8:22 time of possession advantage for the second half and a 28:41-19:19 lead for the game.
Kempa carried 19 times for 77 yards to lead Susquehanna. He also hit three of 10 passes for 52 yards.
Nick Marco, Steve Skurski and Rob Hubal each had at least two tackles for losses for the Sabers.
Marco led the team with seven tackles and four assists. He had two tackles for 10 yards in losses.
Skurski had six tackles, including two for five yards in losses, and one assist.
Hubal had a sack for an eight-yard loss and two other tackles for three yards in losses among his four total tackles.
Greg Price, Kempa, George Wilkes and Jesse Pruitt were all part of the strong defensive effort that the Sabers made routine throughout their championship season.
Price had six tackles and an assist while breaking up a pass.
Kempa had four tackles, two assists and a fumble recovery that he returned 27 yards.
Wilkes, who had five tackles and two assists, and Pruitt, who had four tackles and four assists, each rushed the passer into an incompletion.
WEEK IN REVIEW
While District 2’s other five soccer teams were getting shut out in the first round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association soccer tournaments, the Mountain View boys gave the district its only victory.
Joe Jarrow’s goal with 8:14 remaining in the Nov. 9 game lifted the Eagles to a 1-0 victory over Tri-Valley in a Class A game.
Chris Herrmann made four saves for the Eagles.
Kirk Wolfgang needed to make 11 saves to keep Tri-Valley close.
The Eagles were then eliminated in the state quarterfinals when they lost, 2-0, to South Williamsport Saturday.
In professional hockey, Bobby Butler took over the American Hockey League rookie scoring lead with two goals Friday night when the Binghamton Senators defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 5-1.
Barry Brust made 29 saves to help the Senators knock off the league-leading Penguins.
Butler’s goals gave him 12 in his first 14 games.
In professional football, Chris Snee briefly had the opportunity to show the skills that made him an all-state defensive lineman at Montrose.
Snee made an open-field tackle for the New York Giants late in the game when the Dallas Cowboys used an interception to clinch a 33-20 National Football League victory.
Mountain View graduates Joey Scanlon and Josh Pfahl had a hand in each goal for Misericordia University when the Cougars defeated Marywood University, 3-1, in an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Region men’s soccer quarterfinal.
Scanlon assisted when Misericordia scored on the only shot of the first half for a 1-0 lead.
Scanlon then scored the game-winner before Pfahl assisted on the final game.
Grove City eliminated Misericordia, 1-0, in the semifinals.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Practice for winter sports seasons officially gets underway Friday.
The District 2 and Eastern Conference football playoffs also continue Friday.
Last week’s high school football predictions for the first round of the playoffs were 6-2 (75.0 percent), bringing our season record to 96-30 (76.2 percent). The predictions will continue until the last LFC team is done in the playoffs. This week’s predictions, with home teams in CAPS: GAR 21, Lakeland 15; Riverside 30, Dunmore 19; VALLEY VIEW 20, Berwick 17; Holy Cross 21, MAHANOY AREA 14; Abington Heights 46, West Scranton 15.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Edwards Sweeps Phoenix Races
PHOENIX. Ariz. - Carl Edwards won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, but the big news is how close the battle for this year’s Cup championship is.
Carl Edwards sweeps both Phoenix races.
Edwards was able to conserve fuel, while others, including the Chase leader, Denny Hamlin, who led the most laps, had to pit for fuel near the end of the 312-lap race.
“I don’t feel like this really happened,” said Edwards.
Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, and Greg Biffle followed Edwards across the finish line.
Jimmie Johnson did not lead a lap, but he was able to conserve fuel and finished fifth.
“I did anything I could do to stay out of the throttle,” said Johnson. “We ran well, had phenomenal pit stops, and stayed out of trouble.
“We were able to work the magic there at the end and save fuel, and now, we’re going to have one heck of a points race going to Homestead.”
Kevin Harvick was down a lap at one point after his team left a lugnut off a wheel and he had to pit a second time, but he was able to finish sixth. He is 31 points back of Johnson, and 46 points behind Hamlin.
“We’re lucky to be honest with you, we just made a mistake,” said Harvick. “I was pretty down when that happened. I talked with Richard (Childress), and he told me you never know what’s going to happen.
“The further we went the better the car got. We’re going to Homestead next week, and we’ll have a fast car. We’ll take our chances there.”
Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, and Jamie McMurray were the remaining top-10 finishers.
Jeff Gordon finished 11th.
Hamlin limped home 12th, after having to stop for a splash of fuel with 12 laps-to-go.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Hamlin. “We were in a good position. We’ve had good cars and all that, but things didn’t work out strategy-wise. We did what we had to do today, but we didn’t have it there at the end.”
Top-12 Chase leaders after 35 of 36: 1. Hamlin-6462, 2. Johnson-6447, 3. Harvick-6416, 4. Edwards-6198, 5. Kenseth-6151, 6. J. Gordon-6124, 7. Kyle Busch-6115, 8. Biffle-6113, 9. Stewart-6074, 10. Kurt Busch-6033, 11. Bowyer-6028, 12. Burton-5958
EDWARDS TAKES PHOENIX NATIONWIDE RACE
Carl Edwards won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix in a cakewalk over runner-up Kevin Harvick.
The victory was Edwards' fourth at Phoenix and his second straight in the series.
“This is the best car I've ever had in the Nationwide Series,” Edwards radioed to crew chief Mike Beam after the race.
Edwards sat out the second Nationwide practice session to concentrate on his qualifying effort in the Cup car. The lack of practice, however, made no difference in Saturday's race.
“That was (owner) Jack Roush's call,” Edwards continued. “I thought about it, but I thought, 'Man, I don't have the guts to sit out a whole practice,' and Mike Beam said, 'Hey, the car's good,' and Jack said it was good, so it let me go focus on our (Cup car) and get the pole there.
“I wouldn't have imagined this thing would be that fast today. A great day for us. Man, it's just unbelievable how fast this thing is. After three or four laps, I could do whatever I wanted with it. I'm really blessed to have the crew that I have.”
Joey Logano finished third, followed by 2010 series champion Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson. Aric Almirola, Colin Braun, Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Steve Wallace completed the top-10.
Kyle Busch cut a tire during the final 56-lap green-flag run and finished 16th in the No. 18 Toyota. That shrank Joe Gibbs Racing's lead in the owners' standings to 41 points over the No. 22 Dodge owned by Roger Penske and driven by Keselowski.
Danica Patrick finished 32nd, seven laps down, in her 12th Nationwide start.
Top-10 leaders after 34 of 35: 1. Keselowski-5474, 2. Edwards-5044, 3. Kyle Busch-4739, 4. Allgaier-4544, 5. Menard-4329, 6. Harvick-4214, 7. Logano-3887, 8. Bayne-3886, 9. S. Wallace-3822, 10. Leffler-3807
BOWYER WINS TRUCK RACE, BODINE CLAIMS TITLE
Clint Bowyer won Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway in his first start in the series since Oct. 20, 2007 at Martinsville.
Todd Bodine also had reason to celebrate. With a 12th-place finish at Phoenix, Bodine wrapped up his second truck series championship. He leads Aric Almirola by an insurmountable 202 points entering next Friday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bowyer beat race runner-up Kyle Busch to the line by 1.039 seconds. Johnny Sauter finished third, followed by Matt Crafton and Almirola.
Bodine added the 2010 crown to his 2006 truck series title.
“Along the way, we had a lot of good luck,” Bodine said. “Along with good performance, along with hard work, you've got to have good luck, and we had it this year. We did that. But the old adage is 'You make your own luck,' and this team has done a great job all year of doing that.”
Top-10 leaders after 24 of 25: 1. Bodine-3772, 2. Almirola-3570, 3. Sauter-3506, 4. Crafton-3397, 5. Dillon-3304, 6. Peters-3231, 7. Hornaday-3135, 8. Skinner-3114, 9. Starr-3040, 10. White-2880
GM HEADED BACK TO INDY-RACING
General Motors Co. and its motorsports entity - GM Racing - has committed to fielding a Chevrolet-branded Twin-Turbo V6 racing engine to compete against Honda in the IndyCar Series beginning with the 2012 season.
Chip Ganassi, after an intense flirtation with Ford where he considered joining their NASCAR program, is instead committing to a relationship with GM Racing and Chevrolet in NASCAR starting in 2011 and in IndyCar beginning in 2012.
Ganassi had apparently been leaning toward going with Ford over the last several weeks but once Ganassi learned that GM was going "all-in" for a new IndyCar racing engine program, he changed his mind.
Penske Racing will also be one of the teams to commit to using Chevrolet engines for 2012. It was Penske who gave Chevrolet their last Indy 500 win in 2002 using an Ilmor built engine. Chevrolet and Honda will compete for teams in 2011 and then race each other on track in 2012.
Weekend Racing: It’s on to the 1.5-mile Homestead, Florida track for all three of NASCAR’s major series’. It is also the last race of the 2010 season.
Fri., Nov. 19, Camping World Trucks Ford 200; Starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed.
Sat., Nov. 20, Nationwide Ford 300; Starting time: 4 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Nov. 21, Sprint Cup Ford 400; starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Kevin Harvick drive for?
Last Week’s Question: Where is the first Sprint Cup race of the season held? Answer. Daytona International Speedway.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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