Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008 | 2:30 a.m.
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Something didn’t look right Friday night when Bishop Gorman’s defense huddled near its 5-yard line midway through the third quarter against Spring Valley.
Defensive end Justin Chassion was noticeably missing from the group of 11. Chassion, an intimidating 6-foot-5, 270-pound defender who is the Gaels' unquestioned leader, cut open his chin making a touchdown-saving tackle on the previous play and was on the bench receiving treatment.
Chassion chased down Spring Valley’s Jacques Adams to limit the Grizzlies’ speedster to a 47-yard gain, and his teammates kept visiting Spring Valley from scoring the next four plays.
With its offense struggling most of the night, Gorman’s defense came up with two interceptions and recovered a fumble to key the Gaels’ 14-6 victory.
The Oklahoma-bound Chassion showed off his speed — he was recently timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash — to keep Spring Valley off the scoreboard. It’s rare for a defensive lineman to win a footrace with a running back, but not rare for Chassion, Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said.
“It was a great effort. It shows his athletic ability,” Altshuler said.
What was more impressive, Chassion said, was the defense’s performance in his absence. Chassion returned in the fourth quarter with a bandage on his chin after missing eight plays.
“Props to everyone on our defense,” Chassion said. “We were hard-hitting tonight. I don’t think there is a defense out there that hits harder than ours.”
Gorman (4-1) has two shutouts in five games and only yielded seven points last week against Durango — the Trailblazers scored a defensive touchdown.
It’s the kind of effort Gorman needs as its offense continues to improve. The Gaels graduated their starting quarterback, running backs and wide receivers from last year’s state championship team and are slowly working in a new batch of starters.
“They are getting better and better each week,” Chassion said.
Gorman’s defense set up both touchdowns.
Both teams had problems moving the ball in the first half before Gorman’s defense recovered a fumble late in the second quarter to give its offense a short field.
Quarterback Chase Cresto, who only completed three of 10 passes, capitalized when he connected with Charles Childres for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Gaels a 7-0 advantage.
An interception by Childers in the fourth quarter gave Gorman another short field and it went ahead 14-0 when Raphel Finley scored on a 2-yard run.
Gorman’s defense nearly recorded the shutout, but Spring Valley’s Keenan Sanders threw a 24-yard touchdown to Brandon Lopez with 1:10 to play.
The touchdown was too little, too late. The Grizzlies failed to score on two possessions inside Gorman’s 10-yard line, missing field goals both times.
Keeping the score close against the defending state champions might be a moral victory for some, but Spring Valley coach Kelly Murphy said that is not the case for his program.
“There is never a moral victory with a defeat,” Murphy said. “We made too many mistakes. You can’t turn the football over against a team like that.”
Sports Editor Ray Brewer can be reached at email@example.com or 990-2662.