A shorthanded Incline football team dropped its final game of the season, 26-0, against visiting Battle Mountain on Friday.
The Longhorns, the No. 3 Northern Division III playoff seed, at 3-2 in league play, built a 14-0 first-quarter lead that extended to 20-0 by the half. They managed a final touchdown in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
“The boys played well,” said Incline coach Scott Conn. “I’m very proud of our physicality. Unfortunately, we could not get in the end zone.”
Incline (1-6, 0-5) made due with what it had, and largely held its own against the larger, healthier Longhorns.
Playing without its first-string quarterback — or second or third — the Highlanders placed the ball in the hands of senior fourth-string QB Masxsimo Battel, who had never played the position.
Battel did a commendable job, finishing 5-of-10 passing for 42 yards with one interception, while also rushing for 20 yards.
But in only his first start, the playbook was limited, and the visitors took advantage by stacking the box against the run. The Highlanders managed to move the ball in small increments but could not get on the scoreboard.
Sophomore running back Owen Graffis led the way offensively, as he finished with 61 yards on 17 hard-earned runs. “He ran the ball very hard against a tough team,” Conn said.
Conn was most impressed with his team’s defensive effort. Incline held senior quarterback Daniel Itza to just 39 yards passing on 3-of-10, while Jack Bessette picked off an Itza pass in the second quarter.
Incline’s defensive unit also held the Longhorns to just 116 yards rushing on 24 attempts, led by Itza’s 82 yards rushing.
“We made significant improvement on the defensive side of the football,” Conn said. “Their quarterback is considered one of the best in the league, and we did a good job of harassing him.”
Conn named Battel as Incline’s Overall Player of the Game. Graffis, who also blocked a PAT, was the Offensive Player of the Game and sophomore Rick De Lacerda was the Defensive Player of the Game. De Lacerda recorded six tackles (three solo), a sack and recovered a fumble.
Junior Ben Snyder finished with seven tackles (five solo) and Michael Guymon five, while Kenny Savelieff had a sack and Kevin Kurashewich and Jerry Sanchez combined on another sack.
“I’m not at all disappointed with how we played,” Conn said. “The guys made me proud.”