Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 | 5:46 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer expected Bishop Gorman and Liberty to be in this position, one game away from the state championship on Thanksgiving weekend. Coronado comes as the season's surprise. Brewer and Keefer discuss whether the Cougars can take it a step further and everything else concerning the state semifinals.
- Liberty makes quick work of Coronado for Sunrise title, has confidence it can compete next week against Gorman
- State or bust: Liberty hopes the third time is a charm in state semifinals
- High School Football Picks: State semifinals
- Wasted opportunities early haunt Moapa Valley in state championship loss
- Gorman’s defense answers call, gives Gaels fourth straight Sunset crown
- High school football section
The seniors hooked up for a 73-yard scoring strike with 58 seconds remaining in the first half Saturday against host Reed High of Northern Nevada in the state semifinals to break a 14-all tie and give the Gaels the lead for good.
Gorman never trailed after that long touchdown, and while Reed put up a strong fight, the Gaels were victorious 49-24 in advancing to the state championship game for the fifth time in six years.
Two years ago in the state semifinals against Palo Verde, Solomon and Smith connected on a similar long pass seconds before halftime in helping Gorman erase a small deficit. The play took the wind out of Palo Verde’s sails to give Gorman momentum for the second half and a double-digit win.
But Reed, which Gorman beat 72-28 in the state title game last year and 62-21 in the 2009 state semifinals, still put up a fight in the third quarter.
The game was close until Gorman pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Gorman led just 21-17 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the three-time defending state champions scored 21 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.
Nate Starks had scoring runs of 6 and 54 yards during a six minute stretch from the final minutes of the third quarter to the opening minutes of the fourth.
Solomon followed by connecting with Jamir Tillman with a 23-yard touchdown pass and Starks put an exclamation mark on the victory with a 56-yard touchdown to close the scoring.
Being challenged by Reed, a team several thought Gorman would beat in lopsided fashion, will serve as a wake-up call for next week. That’s especially true when considering Liberty stayed close to Gorman in last year’s semifinals before losing 56-34.
“This was the best thing that could have happened to us,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “It reminds us you have to come and be ready to (play).”