Ray Brewer and Case Keefer break down the few games that will finalize the playoff bracket.
The Bishop Gorman High football team allowed Sierra Vista to pick up a few first downs and bring the ball to the Gaels’ 24-yard line with about four minutes to play tonight in the regular season finale.
Gorman hadn’t surrendered a point in its previous five Southwest League games, and even though it had a comfortable six-touchdown lead, reinserted its starters to preserve the shutout. Sierra Vista missed two midrange field goals with seconds remaining and Gorman won 43-0 to capture the Southwest League championship.
Not only did the Gorman varsity team not yield any points in league play, a streak dating back to Sept. 16, its junior varsity and ninth-grade teams weren’t scored on, either.
The players clearly knew what was on the line in the final minutes, showing much emotion after the field goals were missed. After the first attempt, Gorman was flagged for a 5-yard penalty to give Sierra Vista another try — and, of course, add to the late-game drama.
“As coaches, if (the players) want to make it a goal, we’ll ride it all the way,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said.
Sierra Vista running back Bryan LaGrange nearly ended the streak in the fourth quarter when he broke past the line of scrimmage for a first down run. He was tackled by Gorman’s Kelvin Glover to prevent a touchdown, and spiked the ball in anger knowing he was close to giving his team points.
Gorman’s defense is led by a pair of top Division I recruits in linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, a USC commit, and defensive end Adam Plant. A shutout streak of this magnitude, though, isn’t a one-person accomplishment — it’s a team effort.
For the players, that’s what makes the past six weeks so special.
“It’s been all of the hard work,” senior defensive tackle Isaac Tuia said. “The coaches drive us hard every day. They knew we could do it.”
Tuia accounted for one of the Gorman touchdowns when he recovered a blocked punt and raced 15 yards for the score at the 4:25 mark of the third quarter to extend the Gorman lead to 29-0.
Jeffrey Ulofoshio blocked the punt. Minutes earlier, Ulofoshio recovered a fumble at the Sierra Vista 4-yard line, and Amod Cianelli rushed for a touchdown on the next play. It was his third touchdown of the game.
“When I picked up the ball I thought, ‘I am going to score. Nobody is going to touch me,’” Tuia said
Gorman, who also received touchdown receptions from Cedric Tillman and Jimmy Telles, opens the Sunset Regional playoffs next Friday by hosting Palo Verde. The Gaels are the eight-time defending state champions.
It will be another opportunity to keep the shutout streak alive.
“It took on a life of its own,” Sanchez said of the streak.