Incline football tops North Tahoe to earn playoff berth
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The Incline football team had to fight for their season Friday night in North Tahoe, and after battling to a 21-14 win against the Lakers will now head to Yerington for the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
The Highlanders didn’t find their first lead until about five minutes left in the contest, and then claimed the final playoff berth out of the Northern League with a pair of late interceptions.
“All the hard work paid off,” said senior running back David Resendiz, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 4:47 left in the game.
The two teams came into the game tied in the Northern League standings for the fourth and final playoff seed. The winner would advance to play the top team in the Northern League, Yerington, and the loser’s season would end that night.
North Tahoe struck first in the opening quarter, scoring from 40 yards out on a third-and-10 pass from senior quarterback Jacob Lutz to sophomore tight end Sean Fekeith.
Incline responded with a drive of its own that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run off a quarterback sneak by sophomore Tommy Williams.
After turnovers and defensive stops on both sides, the two teams entered the locker room at halftime tied 7-7.
North Tahoe opened the second half with senior Daniel Joslin catching a short pass, and then breaking multiple tackles on the way to a 67-yard touchdown. The extra point by sophomore kicker Michael Perez gave the Lakers a 14-7 edge.
Incline responded on the following drive by taking the ball from their own 44-yard line into the red zone. Resendiz then scored on a bruising 12-yard touchdown run, but was called for a 15-yard penalty after spiking the ball. The result would be a missed kick on the extra point, leaving North Tahoe with a 14-13 advantage.
Resendiz would make up for the mistake two drives later, intercepting a pass and returning it to the North Tahoe 25-yard line. The Highlanders defense responded, however, with an interception by Joslin.
After forcing a three-and-out, Incline returned a punt down to the North Tahoe 35-yard line. From there, the Highlanders drove down to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Resendiz, giving the team their first lead of the night with 4:47 remaining in the game. Incline then added two more points on a reception by sophomore Colin Combs from Williams, making the score 21-14.
Incline senior Joe Duran forced another turnover on the ensuing drive, intercepting a pass and returning it to the Highlanders 44-yard line.
North Tahoe’s defense would get a stop to give the offense a chance with 1:03 left and no timeouts. Incline’s Williams would make sure there would be no Lakers comeback, coming out of nowhere to intercept a pass intended for Joslin.
“I was manned up in a bracket with (Joslin),” said Williams. “He had a great game tonight. Basically I was just reading the quarterbacks eyes. I saw him try and look me off, and then I looked back and I saw him throw it. I just went up and grabbed it.”
From there, Williams and the Highlanders were able to take a couple knees to complete the come-from-behind win.
“I think we had the upper hand mentally … whether that was defense or offense, we stayed poised the whole time, and that’s what won us the game,” said Williams. “We’ve got a lot of heart. Football means so much to everyone on this team. It’s our biggest thing and bringing wins back to Incline puts a lot of pride in us.”
The win sets up an opening round playoff matchup at Yerington. The Lions defeated Incline 48-19 earlier in the season. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
“Yerington is a really good football team,” said Williams. “We’re going to have to bring our best game. We are going to have to play a really good game to beat them.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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