Incline football: Highlanders cruise to victory in home opener | SierraSun.com

Incline football: Highlanders cruise to victory in home opener

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com

INCLINE VILLAGE — Incline football players had a bad taste lingering from their lopsided, season-opening loss at Portola — and Burney paid the price.

A week after their 57-7 defeat at the hands of the Tigers, the Highlanders bounced back to deliver their own walloping, 35-2, on a cold Friday night in Incline Village.

"We worked really hard on getting ourselves corrected. Nobody on the team was proud of our performance against Portola," said Incline coach Scott Conn. "Everybody knew we have more in us than what we demonstrated. So we were bound and determined to get back on our normal winning track. Unfortunately for Burney, it came at their expense."

Incline amassed 467 yards of total offense while its defense held the Raiders to 142 yards and caused seven turnovers, four of which came in the first half.

Seniors Owen Graffis and Tanner Quenneville led the offensive attack with two touchdowns apiece, and Jerry Sanchez kicked a 40-yard field goal as the Highlanders built a quick 12-0 lead that swelled to 25-2 by the half.

The dominant performance began with the opening kickoff, which Graffis returned 70 yards for a touchdown after shedding a couple of tackles. Graffis went on to rush for a game-high 180 yards on 24 carries. The senior also caught two passes for 42 yards.

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Senior quarterback and defensive back Kelsey Philpott — who completed five of his eight pass attempts for 165 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions — picked off Burney quarterback Alex Madera twice in the first half.

Following Philpott's first interception on Burney's opening possession, Incline took advantage of a short field and punched the ball into the end zone on a 3-yard run by Graffis. The Highlanders' 2-point conversion attempt failed as the hosts took an early 12-0 lead.

One of Incline's few major mistakes came early in the second quarter when a long snap sailed over the head of Sanchez, who jumped on it in the Highlanders' own end zone for a safety.

Incline responded by forcing a turnover on downs and then marching 77 yards in six plays, aided by a 44-yard catch and run by Quenneville for a touchdown. Sanchez's PAT missed its mark, and Incline led 18-2 with 5:57 remaining in the half.

Madera fumbled two plays later near midfield and Graffis recovered, and the Highlanders proceeded to drive 43 yards for another score. It was Philpott and Quenneville who hooked up once again, this time on a 34-yard touchdown play. Sanchez's PAT extended the lead to 25-2.

The second half did not turn out much better for the visitors. Madera fumbled again on the second play of the third quarter, and Incline scored another touchdown two possessions later on a 35-yard screen play to senior fullback Michael Guymon.

Incline's offense again found itself with the ball just one play later, as Conor Nix recovered Madera's third fumble of the game. Sanchez capped the Highlanders' ensuing drive with a 40-yard field goal to round out the scoring.

Conn said he was pleased with his team's execution and physical style of play.

"We were definitely hitting hard. We're trying to become a more physical and ferocious team than we have been in the past," the coach said. "This year we've decided it's time to bring it."

Philpott was named Incline's overall Player of the Game, Quenneville was the Offensive Player of the Game and Joey Stranzl was Defensive Player of the Game after recording 17 tackles and two sacks. Graffis was Special Teams Player of the Game.

Incline improved to 1-1 overall while Burney fell to 0-2.

Incline 35, Burney 2

Burney 0 2 0 0 — 2

Incline 12 13 7 3 — 35

First Quarter

I — Graffis 70-yard kickoff return (kick failed) 11:47

I — Graffis 3-yard run (conversion failed) 7:07

Second Quarter

B — Safety 11:10

I — Quenneville 44-yard pass from Philpott (kick failed) 5:57

I — Quenneville 34-yard pass from Philpott (Sanchez kick) 0:40

Third Quarter

I — Guymon 35-yard pass from Philpott (Sanchez kick) 4:06

Fourth Quarter

I — Sanchez 40-yard field goal 11:48

Individual stats

RUSHING — Burney, 39-110: Searl 14-84; Christenson 3-20; Tiran 3-12; Glazzard 1-3; Madera 13-(-2); Williams 5-(-7). Incline, 39-302: Graffis 24-180; Guymon 12-90; Philpott 3-32.

PASSING — Burney: Madera 4-10-32-2-0. Incline: Philpott 5-8-165-0-3; Graffis 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING — Burney: Williams 1-18; Marks 1-11; Searl 2-3. Incline: Quenneville 2-88; Graffis 2-42; Guymon 1-35.

Up next

Incline will host Sierra Ridge/Rite of Passage (Calif.) on Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m.