Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 | 5:35 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer assess the state of the Bishop Gorman vs. Palo Verde rivalry. With the Gaels outscoring the Panthers by 100 points combined in the last four meetings, is the game as relevant as it once was? Will Palo Verde keep it close? Listen for that discussion as well as a breakdown of Liberty's trip to Reed and a shoutout to Division 1A State Champion Faith Lutheran.
The four-time defending state champion Gaels showed they were going to be able to run the ball at will, using a 5-yard touchdown run from Russell Booze to cap a five-play, 73-yard drive to give Gorman the lead for good. And there was still 10:34 left in the first quarter.
Three ball carriers had rushes of more than 19 yards on the drive, setting the table for a dominating rushing performance in a 45-7 victory. The win puts Gorman in next Saturday’s state championship game against Reed High of Northern Nevada, which beat Liberty 35-31 today in the other state semifinal.
“Up front, our guys just had a dominating performance on both sides of the ball,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “But it is not really surprising. If you look at all of the games we’ve played, we have been able to run the pretty well on everybody — from the No. 1 team in the country on down.”
Quarterback Randall Cunningham II had a 34-yard run on the initial drive. He finished with 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Cunningham had Gorman’s next two touchdowns of the first half, scoring on runs of 1 and 6 yards for a 21-0 halftime lead. He was a dual threat all afternoon, unofficially completing 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards with one interception.
But with Gorman running the ball with such authority, Cunningham didn’t need to take to the air. Daniel Stewart and Jonathan Shumaker also had touchdown runs for Gorman, which rushed for nearly 350 yards.
Gorman’s defense was equally effective. Armand Perry and Dylan Weldon recorded interceptions, the Gaels forced and recovered a fumble, and they added four sacks. Palo Verde’s points came with 3:38 remaining on a Parker Rost-to-Calvin Beaulieu touchdown pass.
“The defense to me was just phenomenal,” Sanchez said. “We always had good field position. We didn’t give up any big plays.”
Stewart had 102 rushing yards and a 9-yard touchdown run with 2:48 to play in the third quarter. Shumaker had 87 yards and a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that gave the Gaels a 38-0 lead. Booze’s second touchdown run, a 1-yard plunge with 9:13 to play, put Gorman ahead 45-0.
Although Booze, Stewart and Cunningham were the ones to find the end zone, they say the credit goes to the Gaels’ offensive line. Led by center Zack Singer, tackle Nick Gates and senior Tryson Mook, Gorman’s front gave the rushers plenty of space to maneuver.
“The line doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve. We have one of the best lines in the state,” Cunningham said. “ They really made a statement today by the numbers we put up in the backfield.”
The Gaels haven’t lost to a Nevada opponent since Palo Verde beat them in 2008. Its dominance today against a Palo Verde squad that was expected to keep the score closer signals the Gaels could enjoy similar success next week against Reed in the championship game.
“I didn’t know we were going to dominate that much, but it was nice,” Sanchez said of the Palo Verde win.