Lakers scrap til the end |

Lakers scrap til the end

Provided to the SunNorth Tahoe senior Eddy Longo goes up for a pass late in Thursday's game at Independence. The Lakers lost 24-22 in their final game of the season.

The Lakers traveled to Elko on Thursday to meet the Independence Colts in the final game of the season.

For the North Tahoe seniors ” Ryan Blount, Brent Marple, Frank Liu, Morgan Chambers, Carlos Lara, Eddy Longo and Dusty Peters ” the game marked the final battle in Laker blue and white.

Senior Taylor Good missed the game with recently removed tonsils, while Joe Erman cheered from the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder.

The fans got a sense right away that they would be treated to a thrilling game.

Independence started out moving the ball well against the Laker defense until North Tahoe’s Forest Wiens recovered a Colts fumble near midfield. The Lakers wasted little time capitalizing on the turnover, scoring quickly on a bootleg by quarterback Blount. The conversion was stopped, but on the ensuing kickoff, Lara drilled the kick into the back of the closest defender, then recovered the loose ball himself.

A couple of first-down runs by Marple and another keeper by Blount put the ball the 1-yard line, where Peters lunged through the line for the Lakers’ second score. Marple dove through the line for the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 14-0 before the end of the first quarter.

Pressure from lineman James Laughlin and Chambers and good pass defense by Leroy Valadez forced the Colts to punt starting the second quarter. But the Independence defense tightened up, forcing a punt from the Laker end zone and leaving the Colts at the Laker 29-yard line.

This time the Laker line held, and the teams traded possessions a couple of times before the Colts appeared once again to take the upper hand.

An offside call on North Tahoe moved the ball to the Laker 35, but Chambers pounced on another Colts fumble to kill the drive. Yet, the Colts defense remained tight, and after forcing a Laker punt, they drove to the Laker 5-yard line after a long pass play with 1:30 left in the half.

Independence punched the ball into the end zone from there, then added two points on the conversion.

North Tahoe had an opportunity before the half ended, but a long pass to Longo was broken up by the Colts defense, and the first half ended with the Lakers leading 14-8.

The second half began with more strong defensive play and swapping of possessions.

An interception by Blount with a return to the Colts 35 was a ray of hope for the Lakers. Marple took over quarterback duties as Blount was shaken up on the interception. The Lakers drove to the Colts 20, but on third-and-8 Marple was thrown for a big loss, and the Lakers were forced to try the field goal. The fake was read well by the Colts, and the pass to Longo at the 5-yard line again was broken up.

The Colts offense finally got going with the next possession. They drove to the Laker 30 before an Independence player ran a 30-yard sweep around the left side to tie the score at 14. The conversion was good, and the Colts took the lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.

Despite superb efforts by seniors Marple, Blount, Longo and Peters, the Laker offense couldn’t get started again. One opportunity came on first-and-10 from the Colts 18, but a Laker fumble and Colts recovery ended the drive.

The Colts pounded out yardage in the other direction before making the biggest play of the game.

On a pitch around the left side, the Independence ball carrier fumbled, then picked the ball up in stride and race 40 yards to the end zone. The two-point conversion, which extended the Colts’ lead to 24-14 with 3:44 left in the game, seemed to end all hope for the Lakers.

But they didn’t give up.

Blount threw a 50-yard TD strike to Marple, and the conversion with 1:00 left on the clock put the Lakers within two points. Blount’s onside kick was perfect, and Peters came up with ball for the Lakers on the 50-yard line with 53 seconds remaining.

The final Laker drive looked like it was destined for the end zone when an Independence personal foul put the ball on the Colts 30-yard line. But pass attempts to the Laker ends were well defended by the defensive backs, and the game-winning score was not to be.

The Lakers finished their first season in the Northern 2A with a 3-6 record.

Lovelock 9-0 9-0 (x)

Yerington 8-1 8-1 (x)

Battle Mountain 7-2 7-2 (x)

ROP 6-3 6-4 (x)

Independence 4-5 4-5

NorthTahoe 3-6 3-6

Silver Stage 3-6 4-5

Whittell 2-7 2-7

Incline 2-7 2-7

Hawthorne 0-8 0-7

(x) clinched playoff berth

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