INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Brendon Steinmeyer put on a scoring clinic at the expense of the visiting North Tahoe Lakers on Friday night.
The senior running back and defensive back scored five touchdowns and kicked a field goal, all in the first half, to help lead the Highlanders to a 48-6 win over their North Shore rival. Incline led 35-0 at the half.
“It's tough when it's our second game and their first game,” said Incline head coach Scott Conn, whose Highlanders improved to 2-0 on the year as the Lakers stumbled out to an 0-1 start. “There's always some catching up to do by the team that's playing its first game.”
Incline was on its game from the opening kickoff. In nine offensive possessions total, the Highlanders scored seven touchdowns, converted a field goal and turned the ball over on downs only once. They amassed 208 yards rushing on 36 carries, averaging better than 5 yards a run, while starting quarterback Christian Biscotti and backup Jack Clouthier combined for 158 yards on 10-of-14 passing, with no interceptions.
“I'm extremely proud of my guys,” Conn said. “They overcame a rash of penalties in the first quarter. I think they just had nerves, facing their crosstown rival and an opponent that hits as well as North Tahoe. But they really settled down and played well.”
The Lakers, meanwhile, struggled to hold onto the ball from the onset. They fumbled five times in the game, including four in the first half, and lost all five to the Highlanders, who converted four of the turnovers into touchdowns.
The trend started almost immediately, as senior fullback Buster Fenley fumbled to Incline on the first offensive play of the game.
The Highlanders wasted little time capitalizing on the opportunity. Starting from their own 21-yard line, Steinmeyer initiated his scoring barrage with a touchdown catch delivered by Biscotti on the very next play. The Lakers blocked the extra point to limit the Highlanders to a 6-0 lead.
North Tahoe then fumbled the ball back to Incline moments later on the ensuing kickoff, and Steinmeyer scored his second touchdown of the evening on a 2-yard run. Just 2:20 into the game, Incline led 14-0 after Biscotti and Michael Wegener hooked up for the 2-point conversion.
Aided by a couple of Incline personal fouls, the Lakers marched down field on their next drive before stalling at the Incline 35-yard line, where Baird Bishop attempted a 52-yard field goal but missed.
Incline took over at its own 20 and proceeded to drive 80 yards in seven plays, capped by a 7-yard TD run by Steinmeyer, who stretched for the goal line after eluding a potential tackler with a shifty move.
The Highlanders scored again on their next possession, as Steinmeyer put the finishing touch on a 63-yard drive with a 12-yard TD pass from Biscotti to extend the lead to 26-0 with 5:36 remaining in the half.
But Incline was far from done. The Highlanders forced a fumble and recovered it on the ensuing kickoff, then scored two plays later when Steinmeyer broke free on a 38-yard touchdown scamper, shedding a tackler at the 5. Thirty seconds after their previous score, the Highlanders led 32-0 following another blocked extra point.
Steinmeyer rounded out the scoring with a 34-yard field goal after Incline recovered yet another fumble.
Asked if he was tired at the half after all that scoring, Steinmeyer, who received the game ball afterward for his performance, replied matter-of-factly: “No, I was not.”
The Lakers nearly got on the board before the half, as junior quarterback Alex Bourriague sprinted into the open field on the kick return but was caught from behind by Clouthier at the Incline 20-yard line.
North Tahoe forced Incline into a turnover on downs to open the second half. Just two plays later, senior receiver and defensive back Travis Glander caught a pitch from Bourriague, hit a seam and outran the entire Incline secondary en route to a 75-yard touchdown run. The conversion failed, leaving the score at 35-6.
With Clouthier in at quarterback, Incline hardly skipped a beat the rest of the way. The sophomore drove the Highlanders 65 yards in eight plays, ending with a 4-yard quarterback keeper for a TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Junior running back Kevin Kurashewich scored a final Incline touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:58 left.
“I was pleased not only with our first-stringers, but also our second string,” Conn said. “They really showed the ability to move the ball.”
Fenley, who finished with 35 yards on 12 rushes, finished the game at quarterback after Bourriague left with a cramp.