North Tahoe football | Lakers drop rival game at Incline |

North Tahoe football | Lakers drop rival game at Incline

Sylas Wright/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe quarterback Matt Walther looks for space to run during the second half of Friday's 44-6 loss at Incline.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8212; Kyle Clouthier scored twice receiving and twice rushing and quarterback Patrick Murray threw four touchdown strikes as Incline rolled to a 44-6 win against visiting North Tahoe on Friday night.

Both rival teams came out hitting hard, but it was the Highlanders who stormed out to the hot start, taking a 13-0 lead in the opening 5 1/2 minutes before the Lakers cut into the lead with a score of their own.

and#8220;It was a great overall effort,and#8221; said Incline head coach Mike Evans, whose team improved to 3-3 coming off consecutive wins. and#8220;Our defense is really setting the tone, and when they’re getting after it, I think our offense plays better.and#8221;

North Tahoe head coach Scott Everist also was pleased with the effort of his team, which played shorthanded and with a number of underclassmen after a tough season filled with injuries.

and#8220;They played hard-nosed,and#8221; Everist said of his players, adding that the team is pretty banged up after six of nine games. and#8220;We had some freshmen starting out there, but overall it was a really good effort I thought. We knew from the start of the season we were going to be young. But they gave a good effort (Friday night).and#8221;

The Lakers’ battering-ram running back tandem of Brendon Arnold and Justin Blend, each at 6 foot 3 and around 220 pounds, carried the load on the ground, as Arnold finished with a team-high 63 yards on 15 carries and Blend had 33 hard-earned yards on eight carries.

and#8220;They’re a load back there, that’s for sure and#8212; not your typical scatbacks,and#8221; Everist said. and#8220;Those guys should be offensive linemen for us, but then we wouldn’t have anyone to run the ball.and#8221;

Arnold started the year as the Lakers’ quarterback. But after junior running back/defensive back Matt Grijalva suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 2, Everist moved Arnold to running back and senior Matt Walther to quarterback.

and#8220;He’s kind of an all-around player for us this year,and#8221; Everist said of Arnold, who completed all four of his halfback passes Friday night for 58 yards, including 21- and 31-yard receptions to Mychall Paschall in the second half.

On the first play of the game, two Highlanders pounced on Walther immediately after the snap, causing a fumble in the soggy field conditions and recovering it at the Lakers’ 15-yard line. Three plays later, Murray found Davis Bedient open in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown reception.

After forcing a North Tahoe three-and-out, Clouthier scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 9-yard pass play from Murray. Irvin Perez-Gomez kicked through the extra point, and the Highlanders took a 13-0 lead with 6:28 left in the opening quarter.

But North Tahoe (0-5 league) struck back when Blend intercepted a Murray pass near midfield two possessions later and lumbered all the way into the end zone. After a failed conversion, the Lakers had trimmed the lead to 13-6.

The interception was one of two in the game for the Lakers, as Walther and#8212; playing despite a pulled groin and#8212; picked off a Murray pass in the Incline end zone midway through the third quarter.

After the North Tahoe score, Incline answered with a 20-yard touchdown play from Murray to Clouthier to give the Highlanders a 19-6 lead at the half. Coming out of halftime, Clouthier broke off a 40-yard touchdown run in which he picked his way through traffic and somehow stayed on his feet despite the Lakers’ best efforts. Jordan Wright then got in on the action on the next possession when Murray found him behind the North Tahoe secondary for a 29-yard TD.

Clouthier wasn’t quite done, as he then rushed for a 13-yard touchdown to give his team a 37-6 lead on the next possession. He finished with a game-high 99 yards on 14 carries, as well as 29 yards receiving on two catches.

North Tahoe hosts Whittell for homecoming on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

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