INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – The Highlanders learned first-hand Friday night what Yerington’s previous opponents already know.
The Lions are good.
Yerington spoiled Incline’s homecoming and home opener with a dominant performance highlighted by a 34-point second quarter. The Lions, who have now outscored their first four Division III opponents 184-0, led 48-0 at the half and coasted to a 51-0 win.
“Yerington is very impressive,” Incline coach Scott Conn said. “But if someone would have offered me a bet that they’d score 51 points and we wouldn’t score any, I would have taken it.”
With multiple athletic options on offense — and a disciplined, hard-hitting defense — the Lions ran the ball nearly at will from the start. They tallied 227 rushing yards in the first half alone while three different players scored two touchdowns apiece.
It started with Tyler Schlegelmilch. After Yerington forced an Incline three-and-out to open the game, the senior running back capped a five-play, 51-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. He kicked through one of his six PATs on the night, and Yerington led 7-0.
The Highlanders (1-2) did not go down without a fight. On the Lions’ second possession, sophomore running back Owen Graffis read an underthrown pass from Foli and picked it out of the air before it could touch grass.
Yerington made few other mistakes, however.
The visitors caused another three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Backed up to their own 3-yard line after a long punt by Jerry Sanchez, Schlegelmilch broke loose for an 87-yard run, stopped short of the goal line when Incline junior linebacker Ben Snyder caught him from behind at the 10. Schlegelmilch was rewarded for his long run with a 2-yard touchdown two plays later.
The Lions were just beginning to hit their stride. They got the ball back on the next play when Reese Neville intercepted a long pass attempt by Incline quarterback Jack Clouthier.
Following a nice return compounded by an Incline facemask penalty, Yerington quarterback Jeremy Foli completed consecutive passes to Tylor Thomas, the second of which found him wide open for a 25-yard score.
The Highlanders did not help their cause in the Lions’ big second quarter. They lost two fumbles, both of which were turned into quick scores by the potent Yerington offense.
The first fumble set up the Lions at the Incline 37-yard line. After a 13-yard keeper by Foli and a personal foul on Incline, Josh Lauderdale got in on the scoring with a 14-yard run. Snyder blocked Schlegelmilch’s PAT attempt, and Yerington led 27-0 with 10:02 left in the second quarter.
Thomas scored his second TD on a 5-yard run, the result of an errant long snap that bounced all the way back to the Incline 5, and Laudergale got his second TD on a 23-yard run shortly after. Harrison Cisneros rounded out the scoring in the first half with a 32-yard touchdown run.
With a running clock in the second half, the Highlanders pieced together their most promising drive when they marched from their own 35-yard line to the Yerington 8 in 10 plays. Clouthier completed three passes on the drive, including a 24-yard play to Alex Zissis. But they failed to convert on fourth-and-7 and turned the ball over.
The Lions scored their only points of the second half when Cisneros intentionally went out of bounds at the 17-yard line on what would have been a long touchdown run, and Schlegelmilch came out and kicked a 34-yard field goal on first down.
“We’re still in the growth stage. Our program is still developmental,” Conn said. “But we’re continuing to learn and build on things. We made some good plays on offense and defense. There just weren’t enough of them strung together.”
The coach complimented the play of Snyder, as the 6-foot-4, 228-pound linebacker and tight end flew around the field and delivered hard hits throughout the game. He was particularly nasty on defense in the second half.
“Ben Snyder was taking it on his shoulders in the second half and leading the way,” Conn said. “I’m proud of his effort.
“I’m proud of all the kids for hanging in there. It would have been very easy to hang their heads. But they kept coming back and trying to take a step in the right direction. I’m very proud of them for that.”