LONG BEACH, Calif. – Three-peat anybody?
On a night it fell behind 14-0, committed a boatload of penalties, played again without star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey and lost starting running back Biaggio Ali Walsh in the first quarter, No. 1 ranked Bishop Gorman rolled up its sleeves and grinded out its 42nd consecutive victory, 35-20, over California prep heavyweight St. John Bosco Friday night at Veterans Stadium.
Many felt the road game against the Braves presented Gorman with its biggest obstacle toward winning another mythical national title. St. John Bosco (2-1), the 2013 national champion, entered the contest ranked No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps and No. 7 by USA Today and was anxious to avenge a 34-31 loss to the Gaels in 2014.
But Bishop Gorman (3-0), led by Ohio State-bound quarterback Tate Martell and a physical defense that held the Braves (2-1) to just two first downs and 51 total yards in the second half, simply seemed to wear down Bosco and scored the final 28 points for a convincing victory.
The Gaels rolled up a 525-to-239 edge in total yards against the Braves, who hadn’t allowed a point in their first two games. This despite the fact the Bishop Gorman picked up 10 penalties for 73 yards in the first half alone and had an unsuccessful fake punt attempt.
Martell put the Gaels on his back offensively, completing 6-of-11 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair of pinpoint rainbow TD passes to streaking junior wide receiver Dorian Thompson-Robinson covering 49 and 44 yards.
But it was Martell’s running that took the wind out of the Braves down the stretch. The rock-solid 5-foot-11, 200-pounder finished with 183 tough yards on 16 carries, including one of his traditional now-you-see, now-you-don’t 18-yard scrambles for the game-clinching touchdown with 6:10 to go.
“We just wanted to go out and pound it on them and that’s what we did,” Martell said. “We finished the game strong and took advantage of the shots down the field that we could, and that’s what separated us.”
Sophomore Amod Cianelli came on for Ali Walsh, who re-injured his right ankle on a first quarter carry and was quickly carried to the training table by defensive lineman Haskell Garrett, and finished with 129 yards on 25 carries. That included 3-yard touchdown run with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter that gave the Gaels their first lead, 21-20.
Garrett, also an Ohio State commitment, junior defensive end Adam Plant Jr., junior linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, UNLV-bound linebacker Farrell Hester and senior safety Bubba Bolden all had big games defensively for the Gaels. Bolden sealed the win with an interception in the end zone to go along with a diving touchdown-saving tackle in the first half that forced the Braves to eventually settle for a field goal and seemed to spark Gorman’s turnaround.
The Gaels still have plenty of potential stumbling blocks to a three-peat, including home games next Saturday with No. 17 ranked Kahuku (Hawaii) and Sept. 30 with No. 9 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and a probable state playoff rematch with No. 23 Liberty. But the win over St. John Bosco is the last tough out-of-state road game.
“This is part of the process for us,” Martell said. “It’s a big one but it’s just another one for us. We have to go back to work in Vegas against Kahuku next week and do the same thing over and over.”
TATE MARTELL PHOTO BY JAY CHRISTENSEN
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— UnderTheRadar (@_UnderTheRadar_) September 10, 2016