Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Trailing 20-3 with less than five minutes to play Friday in the third quarter, the Bishop Gorman High football team could have easily stopped fighting.
But they didn’t.
And even though their rally came up short in a 20-17 loss to visiting Armwood High of Florida on ESPN2, Gaels coach Tony Sanchez told his players they had nothing to be ashamed about.
Sure, the sting of losing is a feeling no player wants to feel. But, as the coach pointed out, there is no shame in giving the No. 2 ranked team in the country everything it could handle and then some.
“I don’t think I have ever seen our kids lie down,” Sanchez said. “They did what I expected them to do. I don’t know, maybe some other people thought the game wouldn’t be as close. But I think there is not a kid in that locker room who isn’t crushed, because they fully expected to win.”
Gorman scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut its deficit and was driving in the final seconds but had to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt with seconds remaining that could have tied the game and forced overtime. But junior Kline Fielden, who earlier connected on a 27-yard attempt, missed low and wide left.
Gorman’s fourth-quarter rally started on the first play of the final 12 minutes when senior Shaquille Powell rushed up the middle for a short touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-10. The score capped the Gaels first drive of the second half, because the Armwood offense ran seven minutes off the clock when it received the ball first after halftime.
Gorman wasn’t finished.
The Gael defense was at its best late in holding a conservative Armwood fourth-quarter attack in check and giving the Gorman offense another crack at cutting into the deficit.
Junior quarterback Anu Solomon, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 114 yards and rushed for another 54 yards, did most of his damage in the fourth quarter in orchestrating the comeback. His 2-yard touchdown run with 2:53 remaining brought Gorman to within three points, 20-17.
Armwood was only able to run 53 seconds off the clock on its next possession, punting back to Gorman with a little more than two minutes to play and plenty of chances to win the game.
But the two-time defending Nevada state champions couldn’t complete the comeback. While the Gaels showed the national television audience they were worthy of their top-10 national ranking, they weren’t ready to accept a moral victory — even if they gave a powerhouse team from a state with some of the nation’s best high school football a run for its money.
“We never quit. We have a young team and everyone played their hearts out,” said Powell, who finished with 83 yards rushing. “What else can you ask for?”
Gorman, which last week opened the season with a 42-22 victory against Chaparral High of Arizona, returns to local competition next Friday to open Southwest Division play against Desert Oasis. They have one more game against a nationally respected opponent — Sept. 30 against Servite from California, which will also be televised by ESPN.
“You want to challenge yourself,” Sanchez said. “We are always going to schedule the hardest game we possibly can and go fight. We told those guys we will play anybody, anytime, anywhere.”