Incline football: Highlanders earn comeback win over ROP
Incline is scheduled to host a nonleague game against Quest Preparatory this Friday at 7 p.m. Conn said he learned Wednesday that Quest Prep does not have the personnel to play an 11-man game, meaning the Highlanders have two days to prepare for their first-ever 8-man game. The Highlanders will then begin Division III play with their homecoming game against Yerington on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m.
The Incline football team found itself on each side of a lopsided outcome to begin the season — losing 57-7 at Portola and winning 35-2 against Burney.
The Highlanders can add a tightly contested comeback victory to their 2015 experiences.
Facing an athletic Sierra Ridge Academy/Rite of Passage (Calif.) team at home last Thursday, Incline trailed for much of the second half before pulling out a 20-14 win with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“They were very physical and athletic, and they didn’t make many mistakes,” Incline coach Scott Conn said of the Rams, who hail from San Andreas, Calif., and are directly related to the Rite of Passage of Nevada’s Division III.
“They were very impressive for their first game. I think we took them for granted a little bit and came out flat.”
Conn said the Highlanders led 12-6 after touchdown runs from senior running back Owen Graffis in the first half and two failed extra points.
The Rams took a 14-12 lead in the third quarter with a 55-yard TD run and successful 2-point conversion.
With about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Incline ate up more than six minutes of clock with a long drive that resulted in a fourth-down play at the goal line.
Graffis took the handoff and fumbled the ball into the end zone, where senior teammate Michael Guymon recovered it at the bottom of the pile. Guymon then got the ball for the 2-point conversion attempt and blasted a defender as he crossed the goal line, adjusting the score to the final margin.
Conn said he was proud of his team’s effort, particularly on defense as the Highlanders wrapped up their tackles when needed in the second half. He credited linemen Brandon Judd and Joey Stranzle and linebackers Jerry Sanchez and Charlie Zendner.
“Sometimes you have to win ugly and sometimes you have to come from behind,” he said. “We did both.”
Graffis finished with 127 yards rushing and Guymon rushed for 68 yards. Quarterback Kelsey Philpott completed six of his 12 pass attempts for 165 yards.