Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2019

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high school football:

Mistakes and turnovers too much for Gorman to overcome in loss to New Jersey school

Gorman drops its fourth game in the past four years, suffering through uncharacteristic performance for rare setback

Gorman Loss

Stephen Sylvanie

Gaels halfback Nathan Starks returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the first quarter against visiting Bergen Catholic High School at Bishop Gorman High School on Friday night.

Gorman Falls to Bergen Catholic

Gaels halfback Nathan Starks returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the first quarter against visiting Bergen Catholic High School at Bishop Gorman High School on Friday night. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

Palo vs. Liberty and Gorman's national test headline busy week

Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer bring all the ranting and raving any Southern Nevada high school football fan could ever want on the fourth episode of this year's podcast. Brewer further fuels his detractors at Centennial and predicts a lopsided victory in favor of Bishop Gorman. Does Keefer agree? Listen to find out.

The Bishop Gorman High football team was in an unfamiliar spot Friday night: being outplayed and making too many mistakes.

On most Friday nights, it’s the three-time defending Nevada state champion and nationally ranked Gaels applying the pressure to force the opposition into the costly errors.

Bergen Catholic of New Jersey had other ideas Friday night, flipping the script on Gorman and capitalizing on seemingly everyone of the Gaels mistakes in a 42-35 upset victory at Fertitta Field.

Gorman allowed more than 300 passing yards. In the first half, they had a pair of turnovers in their own territory, including a premature snap by the center that knocked off quarterback Anu Solomon’s helmet and was picked up by a Bergen defender deep in Gorman territory to set-up a touchdown.

In the final seconds of the first half, Gorman suffered its biggest error.

Following a Bergen touchdown for a 21-14 lead, the ensuing kickoff landed at about the 30-yard line between a pair of Gorman players. The Bergen special teams unit raced down the field and grabbed the loose ball for one last possession before halftime. They eventually scored for a 28-14 halftime advantage and would never trail the remainder of the game.

This was just Gorman’s fourth loss in nearly 50 games since Tony Sanchez became coach in 2009.

“We did quite a few things that really hurt us and didn’t give us the opportunity to have the kind of success we thought we’d have today,” Sanchez said.

Junior running back Nate Starks was solid all night for Gorman in rushing for 151 yards on 15 carries, including a touchdown run of 59 yards in the second quarter when the teams were exchanging scores. After Bergen took the initial 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Starks returned the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to even the game.

That’s why Bergen decided to go with the short kick all night — they also recovered another kickoff in the second half, but was flagged for a penalty to give Gorman the ball.

“Hats off to them. They are a good football team,” Sanchez said. “Some of the things we did, we couldn’t recover from.”

While Gorman twice cut the deficit to one touchdown in the second half, the damage was simply too much to overcome. Bergen at one point in the fourth quarter led by three touchdowns.

Despite being a non-factor most of the night, Solomon completed 14-of-23 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair of strikes in the final minutes to make things interesting. Jamir Tillman had touchdown receptions of 11 and 15 yards, and Ryan Smith caught a 35-yard touchdown with 40 seconds to play.

“They are a good team. If you make mistakes, they will convert on it,” said Tillman, who had six grabs for 92 yards. “We’ll go to practice and work on (the mental mistakes) so it doesn’t happen again.”

Gorman (2-1) will play its fourth national opponent to open the season next Friday when it travels to Southern California to face Servite High. Last year, they beat Servite at home on a last-minute field goal.

“We’ll get right back up, dust ourselves off and get back to work,” Sanchez said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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