Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 | 5:28 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer and Steve Silver break down this weekend's state semifinal match-ups between Bishop Gorman/Reed and Del Sol/Basic.
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The Gaels heard how much teams from Southern Nevada struggle when they travel north. They heard how the cold weather favored the home team. They heard how this could be the game to derail their state title dreams.
All the while, the Gaels waited to prove everyone wrong.
“To be honest, that was our motivation,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “We couldn’t wait to come out here and show everyone we could play together and play as a team.”
Mission accomplished, to say the least. Bishop Gorman ran into none of those problems as it routed Reed 62-21 to advance to the state championship game next Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Nearly everyone on the Gorman roster posted gaudy statistics. Senior running back Victor Belen had 16 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon went 9-for-13 for 203 yards and three touchdowns.
“We had everyone in town — even teams that rooted against us during the regular season — we had the whole South rooting for us,” offensive lineman Geoff Gibson said. “It was nice to put on a show.”
The opening act proved to be the most impressive part of Gorman’s performance.
The Gaels led 35-0 at the end of the first quarter. They scored on four of their first 10 plays and were up 28-0 less than six minutes into the game.
“You take the mindset going into the playoffs that you’ve got to win by one point,” Sanchez said. “One point and you’re happy because you’re moving on to the next week. Never in a million years did I think we could come out and do that.”
Belen scored first for the Gaels on a 14-yard rush three minutes into the game.
On Gorman’s next offensive play, Solomon connected with senior Johnathan Loyd on a 64-yard bomb for a touchdown.
Reed fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Gorman recovered on the one-yard line. Belen dove up the middle two plays later for his second touchdown.
Gorman was up 21-0 while some Reed fans were still filing into their seats.
“That was crazy,” Gibson said. “I’ve never been a part of that. That was amazing.”
Gorman’s defense was equally as impressive early in the game. Loyd intercepted a Reed pass to set up another short field for the offense.
“There’s just so many weapons on our defense,” Belen said.
The biggest highlight of the game might have come in the second quarter. Solomon completed a pass in the middle of the field to senior receiver Taylor Spencer.
But Spencer found himself trapped among three Reed defenders. No problem. Spencer juked his way past all three enroute to an 88-yard touchdown.
“We’ve bonded so much and we’ve been through so much as a team,” Belen said. “To finally make it to the state championship and all we have to do is finish, it feels great.”
The Gaels went into halftime with a 49-7 lead. Although Reed scored two touchdowns in the second half, Gorman answered each with one of its own.
They didn’t look like a team distracted by the travel and the road environment. In fact, Sanchez said, it helped them.
“Our kids were so keyed in,” Sanchez said. “I really think the trip benefited us. I think we might have fallen a little more asleep if we had been at home.”