Incline football | Highlanders win big over Silver Stage |

Incline football | Highlanders win big over Silver Stage

Sylas Wright

INCLINE VILLAGE — Junior running back Owen Graffis and the Highlanders ran over visiting Silver Stage on Friday, amassing yards at will en route to a dominant 53-12 win.

Graffis led the charge with 279 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while senior fullback Joe Sunseri added three rushing touchdowns and senior quarterback Jack Clouthier threw for two more. By the end of the night, the Highlanders had gained 448 yards rushing.

"It was kind of expected," Incline coach Scott Conn said of the one-sided affair. "Silver Stage is where we were a couple of years ago, trying to rebuild their program.

"The trick was how to get something out of the game while also being classy in winning. They're great guys and great competitors, and we wanted to make sure we were the same."

The Highlanders scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to jump out to a 26-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The hosts tacked on two more in the second quarter and led 39-6 at the half.

Graffis initiated the scoring onslaught just three plays into the game when he ran around the left side and into the end zone from 33 yards out.

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Following a Silver Stage punt and a 74-yard run by Clouthier on the first play of Incline ensuing drive, Sunseri punched the ball in from 7 yards. Jerry Sanchez kicked through the extra point, and Incline led 14-0 fewer than five minutes into the contest.

Incline's swarming defense caused a Silver Stage three-and-out before Graffis broke loose for a 45-yard TD the next time the Highlanders touched the ball.

Clouthier ended the Nighthawks' next drive with a leaping interception. Four plays later, Clouthier hooked up with Alex Zissis for an 8-yard TD reception, extending the lead to 26-0 as the first quarter came to a close.

Silver Stage continued to played hard despite the big deficit. It paid off midway through the second quarter when the Nighthawks' quarterback scampered 23 yards to put the visitors on the board with a touchdown.

The teams traded interceptions before Graffis, who had just picked off the Nighthawks' pass, rushed for a 1-yard TD. Krista Conn kicked the extra point, and Incline led 33-6.

Sunseri scored the next two touchdowns on 1-yard runs — one at the end of the first half and one at the start of the third quarter. Incline's final touchdown came later in the third quarter when Clouthier threaded a ball into tight coverage to his big tight end, Ben Snyder, who hauled in the 18-yard touchdown strike.

On the defensive side of the ball, Snyder led the Highlanders with 15 tackles, while Michael Guymon had 10 tackles, and Sunseri and Kaelan Pugh each had eight. Sunseri also had two sacks and Pugh had one.

With the win the Highlanders improved to 2-1 in Northern Division III play and 4-2 overall, and are right in the mix to earn a playoff berth. The next test will be tougher, however, as Incline hits the road to face Battle Mountain, which carries a 3-1 league record into the game.

Silver Stage 12, Incline 53

S. Stage 0 6 0 6 — 12

Incline 26 13 14 0 — 53

Individual stats (Incline only)

RUSHING — I, 26-448: Graffis 12-279; Clouthier 2-107; Sunseri 6-29; Zissis 1-17; Zendner 2-8; Cory 3-8.

PASSING — I: Clouthier 6-13-75-2-1.

RECEIVING — Zissis 3-40; Snyder 3-35.

Northern Division III standings

Team League Overall

Yerington 4-0 4-2

Battle Mountain 3-1 5-2

Pershing County 2-1 4-2

Incline 2-1 4-2

Silver Stage 0-3 0-5

W. Wendover 0-4 1-6

Top four teams advance to postseason.