Jeremy Rincon / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 | 12:30 a.m.
The Bishop Gorman High football team was in an unfamiliar position.
The Gaels gained just two yards on three plays of their first possession Friday against visiting Don Bosco of New Jersey before punting. Later in the quarter, Don Bosco scored the game’s initial touchdown, handing Gorman its first deficit in nine games this season.
More important, it looked as if the nation’s No. 1-ranked team would struggle attacking Don Bosco’s much larger linemen.
But Gorman scored 17 unanswered points to take the lead for good, promptly finding ways neutralize its size disadvantage in a 30-16 victory in the final game against out-of-state competition for the defending mythical national champions.
“We talk about it all the time,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “When you are playing a big-time game with a lot on the line, things are going to go your way, and things are not going to go your way. You are going to be in a situation you might not have seen.”
Tate Martell, who passed for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns, led Gorman on three consecutive scoring drives to erase the deficit. His 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gahagan on a fourth-down play with 3:30 remaining before halftime gave the Gaels a 17-7 lead.
Gahagan, a 5-foot-10 senior, usually isn’t the opposition’s first priority to defend. That goes to Tyjon Lindsey, who scored Gorman’s first touchdown and is a four-star recruiting prospect.
But Gahagan led Gorman (9-0) with four receptions for 61 yards and had the touchdown that arguably changed the game’s momentum.
“They were huge up front. They did a great job manning up with us. With our size we aren’t used to that,” Gahagan said. “... Our speed and the way we practice carries into the game. We are always finishing and never take a play off.”
Gorman wore out Don Bosco in the second half behind junior running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh, who finished with more than 200 rushing yards and a touchdown. With Gorman leading just 23-16 with less than five minutes to play, Ali-Walsh carried the ball six consecutive times, picking up about 80 yards and scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:42 remaining for the decisive points.
Ali-Walsh was too fast; Gorman’s offensive line was too fresh.
“It is a long game. We just keep grinding,” Sanchez said.
Gorman returns to local play next week by hosting Palo Verde in the Southwest League championship game. Gorman hasn’t lost to a Nevada opponent since Palo Verde in 2008, but is expected to cruise the remainder of the season.
If that happens as expected, Gorman’s win tonight could have wrapped up another mythical national title. Gorman has to do its part by winning out, then it’s up to voters.