Incline grinds out win over Whittell |

Incline grinds out win over Whittell

Joe Proudman
Joe Proudman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. – The game was over and the Whittell Warriors began to jog off the field. Hunter Morgan lingered a bit, staring at the score board standing in the south end zone. On the opposite side of the field, the Incline Highlanders were celebrating a 20-14 win over Whittell, in the last game of the season.

“The seniors are taking, Hunter Morgan is taking it, pretty hard. Hunter is a competitor. It could possibly his last football game,” coach Jeff Jones said. “It’s their (seniors) last game, you want to go out with a win.”

A win was in Whittell’s grasp.

With about four minutes left to play in the game, Whittell got the ball back after an Incline touchdown gave the Highlanders the 20-14 lead. A failed two-point conversion gave Whittell a shot at the win with a touchdown and PAT.

The Warriors started at the 33 yard line and came out with a big pass from Austin Buyak to No. 82 Jake Williams for 33 yards that put the ball on Incline’s 34 yard line with 3:44 left in the game. Buyak then ran to the 20 yard lin , but the Warriors would stall. Three straight runs to Hughston Norton, who had 73 yards of rushing on the night, would force a fourth-and-eight with 1:12 left in the game. After a Whittell timeout, Buyak dropped back to pass on the fourth down play, but Incline pressure forced his throw into heavy coverage and Incline’s Brendon Steinmeyer intercepted the ball, sealing the win for the Highlanders.

The Warriors had plenty of chances to score oon the night, but turned the ball over four times in the red zone, including a punt and interception. The game started out well for the Warriors, who forced a three-and-out on Inclines initial possession. A bad snap on the punt gave the Warriors the ball 23 yards from the end zone, but quarterback Shawn Mand was intercepted by Jordan Wright on the first play as he was going for the score. On the ensuing drive, the Warriors defense came up big again, forcing a third-and-20 after a Kody Dangtongdee 9-yard sack. Incline would punt on fourth down, giving Whittell the ball near midfield. That would lead to Whittell’s first score, on a Norton 25-yard touchdown.

Incline punted on their next possession and the Warriors drove down to the 1 yard line on their next drive, but failed to get across the goal line. They would get the ball back though, after Incline fumbled on the 23 yard line in a bad exchange between the quarterback and running back. Whittell drove to the 9 yard line and stalled again. They opted for the field goal on fourth-and-seven, but only had 10 men on the field and the attempted was blocked. Whittell went into the half up 7-0, but left plenty of points on the field.

On Incline’s first drive of the second half, they scored on a Patrick Murray pass to Kyle Clouthier, that was good for 35 yards. A two-point conversion made it 8-7. Whittell answered right back with a touchdown pass of their own. On fourth-and-five on Incline’s 20 yard line, Buyak hit Ty Sprock in double coverage for a TD to go up 14-8.

Incline answered as well on their next drive, with Murray hitting Wright for a seven yard touchdown pass. A failed two-point conversion made it 14-14. Whittell started their next drive on the 37 yard line and drove to the 20 yard line when Norton fumbled and the Highlanders made Whittell pay. On a fourth-and-inches, Murray dove to the left side of the line for the score to make it 20-14 after the failed two-point conversion.

“Mistakes killed us,” Jones said. “They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. It comes down to executing and they executed a little better than we did.”

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