Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 | 12:47 a.m.
Bishop Gorman has a tendency to intimidate its opponents. With its roster full of Division-I prospects and weekly blowout victories, the Gaels usually force the other team to crumble by halftime.
That wasn’t the case against Desert Oasis Thursday night. The Diamondbacks stuck right with the Gaels for the first three quarters, until Bishop Gorman pulled away for a 42-11 victory in the final 12 minutes.
“I’ll give them credit for heart,” Bishop Gorman senior running back Victor Belen said. “They had the most heart we’ve played so far, the most heart I’ve seen in four years playing here.”
At the end of the third quarter, the Gaels led only 21-11.
But in the fourth quarter, Belen rushed for two touchdowns to put Desert Oasis away. Overall, Belen carried the ball 17 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s been great since game one,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “He’s a heck of a player.”
It was the Gaels’ other star running back, sophomore Shaquille Powell, who struck first. He put Bishop Gorman up 7-0 in the first quarter with a three-yard touchdown run.
Belen followed it with a 24-yard sweep for a score on the team’s next possession. The two-touchdown deficit did not deter Desert Oasis.
The Diamondbacks capitalized on the Gaels’ mistakes by recording a safety after a bad snap on a punt attempt and recovered two punts that hit Bishop Gorman players.
With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, Desert Oasis senior quarterback Brennen Stott scored on a 19-yard option run to make the score 14-8.
“They made us grind it out, and I think that’s good for our kids, because we haven’t played past the third quarter the whole season,” Sanchez said.
At halftime, Desert Oasis coach Faron Seibel challenged his players. He told them to win the game, they needed to shut Bishop Gorman out in the third quarter.
The Diamondbacks did exactly that but couldn’t supplement it with points. Stott threw two interceptions in the red zone, one to Belen and the other to Bishop Gorman senior Taylor Spencer, who also had four catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
“We made a few mistakes there at the end that kind of cost us,” Seibel said. “But we were very proud of how we played.”
Offensively, the Diamondbacks leaned on senior Ronald Hunt. The running back had 21 carries for 57 yards and caught three passes for 55 yards.
“We underestimated them. We did,” Belen said. “They came out swinging and we didn’t play as hard as we do in practice. We came out here and got smacked in the mouth and we smacked them back. That’s all we can do.”