Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 | 10 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer break down this week's high school football state semifinals. Can Liberty handle traveling to Northern Nevada to face McQueen — and the Reno area's cold weather? Plus, everything you need to know about the much anticipated showdown between Bishop Gorman and Palo Verde.
“Be proud and keep your heads up,” Wright told them.
Wright, Palo Verde’s leading rusher and team captain, shed no tears and said he had no regrets after a 28-10 loss to Gorman in the state semifinals Saturday afternoon.
From Wright’s point of view, the Panthers did all they could to beat the Gaels. It wasn’t meant to be.
“I believe we gave it all we got,” Wright said. “I’m not mad. I believe we could have won that game, but in the end we didn’t. We gave it our all and I didn’t see anyone quit. They went out there and gave it everything no matter what and I’m proud of that.”
To beat Bishop Gorman, which has now outscored Nevada opponents 583-86 this season, Palo Verde needed to play perfect. That didn’t happen as the Panthers made their share of mistakes.
The first came at the end of the first half. Palo Verde kicker Garrett Dunlap booted a 33-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
But they left 27 seconds on the clock, which was too many for Gorman. The Gaels scored in four plays.
“It would have been nice to go into halftime 3-0 and have it our way,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “Then, we come out and fumble right after halftime. That wasn’t good, either.”
The Panthers' drive indeed ended right after it got started to open the second half. Junior running back Jonathan Maxwell lost the ball at Palo Verde’s own 39-yard line and Gorman recovered.
Jordan Welte scored shortly after, and before the end of the third quarter, Gorman led 28-3.
“None of us are going to live in regret,” Wright said. “We know this could have been our game, but it just didn’t go our way. That’s how we’re going to remember it.”
Wright, who has offers from multiple Division-I schools including California and Hawaii, finished with 21 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown.
He grinded out physical yards for most of the game before breaking loose for an 80-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
“Brandon is a special kid,” Rost said. “He’s going to have a nice little career in college.”
Jerrol Garcia-Williams recovered an onside kick for Palo Verde after Wright’s score. Wright said that sequence of events illustrated the Panthers' mentality all season.
“We never quit,” Wright said. “We were underdogs. We weren’t as big, but that wasn’t the deal. We came out and hit them in the mouth, but we just couldn’t hold on.”
Wright wasn’t the only senior to stand out for the Panthers. Linebacker Doug Stultz led the Palo Verde defense and had the interception to set up Dunlap’s field goal.
Rost chose to follow Wright’s lead and focus on the positive after the game. He said Palo Verde would make another run at the state title in the future.
“We’ve got a lot of kids coming back,” Rost said. “We’re one of these programs where hopefully we can just reload and come back and build off of it.”