Jeff Mulvihill Jr., Special to the Sun
Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 | 8 p.m.
The Bishop Gorman High football team was supposed to be winning by convincing fashion today by halftime of the Division I high school football state championship game in Reno.
The Gaels should have been putting in reserves to put the finishing touches on a sixth straight state championship and an undefeated season, the final hurdle in being voted as the mythical national champions.
Reed High of Sparks had other plans.
Gorman led by two touchdowns after the first quarter and appeared well on its way to the blowout win everyone expected. Then, Reed answered by scoring two touchdowns to tie the game at 21 with about four minutes to play before halftime.
Mighty Gorman, which had surrendered just 26 points in the past eight weeks and hadn’t lost to an instate opponent since 2008, had its hands full. Well, for about one quarter.
The Gaels responded like champions — national champs, that is.
Gorman scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 1:37 of the first half to take a double-digit halftime lead and continued the domination in the second half for a 70-28 victory.
The Gaels closed the game on a 49-7 scoring run, showing they are the unquestioned kings of Nevada football. And, considering they’ve been ranked No. 1 in every national poll for more than a month, the Gaels will likely be voted as mythical champs when final polls are released in two weeks.
“Honestly, I wasn’t scared. I know how good my team is and how good we can play,” said Tate Martell, Gorman’s sophomore quarterback, who finished with six touchdown passes. “I was thinking: ‘We are fine. Let’s get some stops and collectively get better.’ Obviously that is what we did, 70-28.”
Gorman should have been trailing at halftime. After Reed tied the game at 21, it recovered a Gorman fumble on the ensuing kickoff and had the ball inside the Gorman 40. More important, it had momentum from tying the game and from the support of the vocal hometown crowd.
But Gorman wasn’t bothered. It had been on the ropes before.
Gorman played a grueling schedule of nationally respected opponents this fall, being challenged in six consecutive weeks to open the season in giving the Gaels the preparation to handle today’s adversity. One game, the Gaels won in overtime. The next, they needed a 2-point conversion to pull out a victory by one point.
Being challenged by Reed, albeit briefly, was something they were prepared to handle.
“You put yourself in those uncomfortable situations (tough preseason games) so when these things occur, your kids don’t waver,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said.
Martell, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, threw for touchdowns on his initial three pass attempts. His most significant touchdown, though, came in the final seconds of the half. After Gorman took a touchdown lead and forced Reed to punt, Martell heaved a long pass to a sprinting Tyjon Lindsey, who caught the ball in stride for a 67-yard scoring reception with 47 seconds remaining in the half.
Just like that, Gorman had a 35-21 halftime lead.
“It felt pretty great because I knew I contributed to the team to get the win,” Lindsey said.
Added Martell: “Tyjon is a big-time player. All we have to do is get him the ball and he will make plays. There aren’t too many times I can overthrow him.”
Gorman poured it on in the second half.
Russell Booze rushed for more than 200 yards and had a 51-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Cordell Broadus had his best game of the season, catching a 6-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game and adding an acrobatic 14-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Broadus is the son of rapper Snoop Dogg, who traveled to Reno — along with television documentary crews — for the game. Snoop Dogg, though, wasn’t the most prominent fan in the Gorman bleachers.
That was sports icon Muhammad Ali, whose grandson Biaggio Ali Walsh is a sophomore running back for Gorman. Walsh had a pair of long touchdown runs, including a 92-yard run to close the score and give Gorman 70 points.
What appeared to be a closely contested game turned into blowout, adding another feat to Gorman’s already impressive national title resume.
“It is hard to be (undefeated),” Sanchez said. “These kids right here, it is a testament to them and their character the way they came out and finished every single week.”