Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011 | 12:15 a.m.
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- High school football section
GLENDALE, Ariz. — With games against a pair of nationally ranked opponents to open the season six days apart, the Bishop Gorman High football team took care of business Saturday night in its first challenge.
The Gaels received six touchdowns and 300 rushing yards from senior running back Shaquille Powell, opening the second half with 28 unanswered points to erase a seven-point halftime deficit for a 42-22 victory against No. 24 Chaparral High of Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Sollenberger Classic in Glendale, Ariz.
What’s next for the nation’s seventh ranked team? Quarters No. 5 to 8.
Gorman has six days to recover from the exhausting trip to Arizona for Friday’s home game against No. 2 ranked Armwood High of the Tampa, Fla., area. Gorman has never lost in the four-year history of Fertitta Field, but then again, they have never hosted a team with the dynamic players of respected Armwood.
“Thank God we were able to take care of the first part. We knew it would be a six-day grind,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “It is an eight-quarter game, not a four-quarter game. We are going to see a defense next week that is extremely physical and extremely fast. But that is OK. We’ll be fine.”
Gorman lost in last year's Classic to Hamilton High of Arizona but didn't flinch this year faced with adversity in the first half of Saturday's game.
Powell carried the ball 30 times for 304 yards, scoring three touchdowns in the initial eight minutes of the second half to give Gorman the lead for good. He was simply unstoppable, scoring on runs of 45, 7, 5, 1, and 36 yards and catching a 30-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Powell, however, took little of the credit. His offensive line dominated the second half, clearly wearing down the Chaparral defensive front and giving the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Powell plenty of openings.
“It didn’t matter what side we went to with these lineman,” Powell said. “They are good. They opened the holes. Best linemen in the nation.”
With the Gaels trailing 14-7 at halftime, Powell scored on a 45-yard run at the 7:39 mark of the second half to even the game at 14.
Then, with one kick, the game changed in Gorman’s favor for the rest of the night. The Gaels’ Nathen Starks recovered an onside kick on a perfectly executed play, and Powell scored a few plays later on a 7-yard run.
The touchdowns were 1 minute, 38 seconds apart. The game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
“We were down at half and I wanted to set the tone and get my offense back on the field,” Starks said.
Gorman’s defense limited Chaparral to six plays in the third quarter and held Chaparral’s star players Davonte Neal and Texas-commit Connor Brewer in check all night. Fittingly, Powell also had a second-half interception.
Brewer passed for three touchdowns and 198 yards but only completed 11 of 26 passes.
Neal, who has more than 20 scholarship offers and was considered one of the best players on the field, was overshadowed by Powell all night. Neal scored on an 82-yard catch-and-run screen pass with 2:12 to play in the game, but Powell responded with a 36-yard touchdown run for his fifth touchdown of the half.
It was the best half of football for one of the Las Vegas Valley’s top players. A three-year varsity player, Powell has rushed for 2,782 yards and 46 touchdowns the past two years — but nothing compares to Saturday's game of a lifetime.
“The third quarter we just knew we had to pound the ball,” Powell said. "We weren’t pounding it like we wanted to. We went together and we went like we need to run this the rock, we need to open up this pass game, we need to hit those holes. We need to score. We need to get those yards. We had to wear them out. We had to get that advantage.”