Highlanders rout rival Lakers, earn No. 2 seed for playoffs

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The new goal posts are installed, and the brand new scoreboard is up and running just in time for the Incline Highlanders to host their first round football game on Friday.

The Highlanders stormed into the playoffs Thursday night with a dominating victory over its rival to end the regular season.

Junior quarterback Nick Suter threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more as the Highlanders scored 28 points in the first 13 minutes and defeated the North Tahoe Lakers 47-20 at Galena High School in Reno.

Incline earned the No. 2 seed from the north region for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 2A State Football Playoffs that begin Friday, Nov. 5.

The Highlanders have earned a home game and will host No. 3 Battle Mountain, who they defeated 21-0 earlier this year, on Sept. 24 on the North Shore. They’ve earned a home game, but their field has been unplayable the past couple of weeks due to construction delays, and then inclement weather, while installing new goal posts, which is why the Highlanders hosted North Tahoe Thursday in Reno.

Joe Duran got Incline on the board with a 9-yard run about halfway through the first quarter.

Just 16 seconds later, Suter scored on a 23-yard run around left end on the first play after freshman Colin Combs recovered a fumble. It was the Highlanders second forced turnover and both led to touchdowns.

Incline broke the game open late in the first quarter when Suter connected with Combs for a 75-yard touchdown pass. The pass looked like it may have been intended for Kade Martinez who reached for the ball that sailed over his head. Combs made the catch in traffic, broke free and streaked down the sideline.

Incline built a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.

The Highlander defense forced a punt on the next drive deep in Lakers territory. But the punt attempt went awry and the punter ended up throwing an incomplete pass from the endzone instead of taking a safety giving Incline possession inside the 10.

Incline quickly scored on a Suter 2-yard pass to Martinez and converted a 2-point conversion for a 28-0 less than 13 minutes into the game.

North Tahoe scored its first touchdown by returning the ensuing kickoff to make it 28-7.

Incline added a pair of field goals with Suter connecting from 32 and 23 yards.

The Lakers scored again with 6 seconds left in the half and it looked like the score would be 34-13 at intermission.

But the Highlanders had one more play after the kickoff and weren’t interested in running out the clock.

Martinez, playing quarterback, lofted a deep pass down the sideline that was caught by Tommy Williams. The freshman weaved across the field, through the Lakers defense and was finally tackled as he surged into the endzone for a 75-yard score.

Incline led 40-13 at halftime.

After 53 combined points were scored in the first half, the third quarter went scoreless.

North Tahoe threatened, but the Highlanders forced a fumble and recovered it in their own endzone for a touchback.

Incline’s final score came in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Suter grabbed the snap and, like his first TD run, ran around the left side for a 17-yard score.

It was senior night for Incline and they were celebrated, along with their families, at halftime.

The No. 2 Highlanders will host No. 3 Battle Mountain (6-2, 5-2 2A Northern League) at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, in the quarterfinals.

Incline had a shot for the top seed last week, but lost to Yerington 14-7, also on a Thursday night at Galena.

The Highlanders (4-2, 4-1) held a 7-0 lead at halftime but the Lions (6-0) rushing attack proved to be too strong as they came back with a pair of touchdowns in the second half.

Class 2A State Football Playoffs

No. 1 (S) The Meadows School vs. No. 4 (S) Lincoln County

No. 2 (N) Incline vs. No. 3 (N) Battle Mountain

No. 1 (N) Yerington vs. No. 4 (N) Pershing County

No. 2 (S) Needles vs. No. 3 (S) Democracy Prep

The teams will be reseeded for the semifinals, pitting the top seed remaining from each the north and south after the first round against the lowest seed from the opposing region.

The championship game is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Centennial High School in Las Vegas.

Joe Duran carries the rock earlier this season. Duran scored Incline’s first touchdown Thursday night against North Tahoe.
Provided/Jen Suter

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