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‘Bone’ remains with Las Vegas after rout

Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, but a look at some of the numbers from Friday night’s renewal of the annual “Bone Game” football rivalry summed up the lopsided affair.

Rancho failed to make forward progress until its 10th play from scrimmage, did not complete a pass in 17 attempts and totaled 60 yards of offense.

When all was said and done, No. 8 Las Vegas retained Sir Herkimer’s Bone yet again with a 45-0 home win, the Wildcats’ 17th straight victory in the series.

“It feels good to not be the team that lost the bone,” senior linebacker Winston Vongmepunt said. “We really wanted to keep the tradition going.”

The Las Vegas (4-1, 1-0 Northeast Division) set the tone right away with defense, forcing three straight incompletions on Rancho’s opening drive.

After the Wildcats went ahead for good on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Swenson to Vince Castro, the defense forced another three-and-out. Rancho (0-5, 0-1) kept the ball due to a roughing-the-kicker penalty on the punt but followed with a run for no gain, a sack and another incompletion.

“We just came out and played hard,” Vongmepunt said. “We were very intense and gave everything we had from the first play.”

The Wildcats took the ball for the second time and once again capitalized, with a 2-yard touchdown run by Swenson. After yet another Rancho three-and-out, Las Vegas stretched its first-quarter advantage to 21-0 on a 41-yard run by Castro.

The Las Vegas defense didn’t allow a first down until Rancho’s second possession of the second quarter and allowed only four total first downs, not including those the Rams secured via penalty.

“The defense has struggled a little bit this year, but we’re making some changes and fixing some things,” Las Vegas coach James Thurman said. “I’m pretty happy with their performance tonight.”

The Wildcats’ effort was far from perfect, however. In addition to the defensive penalties, Las Vegas drew more flags on offense than Thurman would have liked.

“We’re still making stupid mistakes. We’ve got things we can still fix,” he said. “The biggest room in the world is room for improvement. We had a touchdown and another big play called back by holding calls. We had a fumble. We’ve definitely got stuff to fix. We’re happy with the win, though.”

Swenson completed 9 of 16 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown, and Castro played several series at quarterback, running for 96 yards and a score on nine carries. Elias Miller added 99 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

“It’s a phenomenal win for the school, the program, the alumni, just for the tradition that we talk about,” Thurman said. “The 2001 state championship (team) had their reunion up there in the stands tonight. I tell our players it’s bigger than them. It’s 57 years of this. It’s special.”

Thurman added he has no problem motivating his team for the game even if Rancho hasn’t won in recent years.

“We just tell them we’ve had the bone since before they were born and they don’t want to be the team that loses it,” he said. “We talk all about the tradition and the rivalry, and that takes care of itself.

“It’s a big football game for us whether they’re 10-0 or 0-10. It still means a lot.”

Andrew Moreland added 46 yards and a touchdown on the ground for Las Vegas.

Ezekiel Collins led Rancho with 37 yards on 10 carries. Shawn Spencer was 0-for-10 passing, and Max Cruz finished 0-for-7.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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