It was a game that had a little bit of everything.
Four fake punts by one team, three of which were successful.
A flea-flicker. A botched center snap with 48 seconds left that set up a game-tying field goal. And then a penalty on the ensuing onside kick that resulted in an extremely rare free kick that could have been the game-winner at the end of regulation.
But in the end, it was some good old fashioned defense and a basic blitz off the edge by Notre Dame-bound safety Nicco Fertitta that proved to be the difference and enable Bishop Gorman (3-0), the nation’s No. 1 ranked team by USA Today, to hold off defending Utah state 5A champion and No. 18-ranked Bingham High of South Jordan, 23-20, in overtime Friday night at Fertitta Field.
Bishop Gorman, which lost the overtime coin toss and went first from the Miners’ 10-yard line, had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Gage Wilson after three plays netted just one yard.
At worst it appeared Bingham (2-1) would make it to another overtime with a field goal. And the Miners needed just 10 yards in their four plays to pull off the upset.
But quarterback Kyle Gearig, who was tackled for a two-yard loss on a first down sweep, was drilled from the blindside by a blitzing Fertitta while attempting to pass on second down and fumbled. Sophomore defensive end Haskell Garrett then pounced on the loose ball to seal the victory and set off a wild celebration by the Gaels.
“Yes, the biggest play I’ve made here for sure,” the 5-foot-10, 181-pound Fertitta, who also intercepted a pass on the Gorman 4-yard line to halt a long Miners’ drive in the first quarter, said. “It was a dogfight. We’re tough and we never give in.”
(STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
Fertitta was asked if he knew he had dislodged the ball from Gearig with his big hit.
“When I hit him all I heard a bunch of oohs and ahhs,” Fertitta said. “I kind of knew something good happened, and then I saw that our team had recovered the ball. That was obviously a great feeling. … (It was) a team effort.”
Fertitta called it “definitely the craziest game I’ve ever played in” and few would argue.
“Anything bad that could have happened tonight happened,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “The amount of fake punts we didn’t get (three), a fumble at the end, a missed field goal, a missed extra point. You name it, we did everything we could to put them in a situation to win. I’m just glad we came out of it on top.”
Gorman, which took a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tate Martell to wide receiver Cordell Broadus, appeared to have the game won in regulation when Ikem Okeke sacked Gearig on 4th-and-10 at the Gorman 44 with one minute remaining. All the Gaels had to do was run a couple plays to get Bingham to use their last two time outs and then run out the clock.
Then disaster. After Russell Booze, who scored Gorman’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run, ran for six yards, Martell stunningly fumbled the center snap and outside linebacker Simian Matagi recovered at the Gaels’ 46 with 48 seconds left. Six plays later, Chayden Johnston drilled a 47-yard field goal to tie it, 20-20.
Still, there were two seconds remaining in regulation. And then came one of the craziest head-scratching plays you’ll ever see.
Bingham lofted a short onside kick toward the right sideline and was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for crashing into a Gorman player who was attempting to catch the ball. The Gaels took over at the Miners’ 38-yard line with two seconds left.
Sanchez then told officials he was going to have Wilson attempt a 52-yard free kick for a chance to win the game. Bingham players had to line up 10-yards from Wilson, who could also use a kicking tee.
“I’ve known the rule since I was a young coach and it’s just never come up as an opportunity in a game,” Sanchez said.
But Wilson, who had been blasting kickoffs 60 yards most of the night, came up about two yards short on his 52-yarder.
“I wish we would have made that,” Sanchez said. “If we got a true kick on that, we had a chance to put it through the uprights.”
Now, that would have been some ending.
As it was, it just set the stage for some heroics by Fertitta and the Gorman defense.
“Nicco’s going to Notre Dame and there’s a reason for it – it’s because he’s a damn good football player,” Sanchez said.
Here are the scores from other games played in southern Nevada on Friday night.
Desert Hills (Utah) 29, Legacy 14
Arbor View 35, Silverado 7
Canyon Springs 28, Cheyenne 13
Palo Verde 25, Green Valley 20
Del Sol 46, Western 6
Eldorado 42, Sunrise Mountain 12
Liberty 58, Shadow Ridge 26
Las Vegas 60, Rancho 7
Desert Pines 42, Clark 40
Spring Valley 41, Bonanza 0
Faith Lutheran 40, Virgin Valley 6
Basic 49, Valley 0
Boulder City 50, Pahrump Valley 21
Cimarron-Memorial 48, Durango 7
Mojave 32, Chaparral 26
Sierra Vista 34, Desert Oasis 14