With his team trailing 6-3 late in the third quarter, Bishop Gorman defensive end Justin Chaisson decided it was time to make something happen.
The senior co-captain forced and recovered a momentum-
turning fumble, and the host Gaels went on to beat Legacy 17-6 in the Sunset Region quarterfinals Friday night.
“They were running an option and I hit the quarterback right as he was pitching it,” Chaisson said. “The ball slipped out, and it was a fumble for anyone to get.”
Several players made contact with the loose ball before Chaisson rejoined the scrum.
“I ran as fast as I could and I ripped it out of a Legacy player’s hands,” he said. “That needed to happen for us. I think it affected the momentum because that’s when we started putting points on the board.”
The fumble gave Gorman the ball at the Longhorns’ 36-yard line. The Gaels scored six plays later on Jordan Welte’s 2-yard plunge for a 10-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Gorman expanded the lead to 17-6 minutes later after a blocked punt led to a 22-yard Joe Huber touchdown run.
The Gaels (11-1) moved on to the regional semifinals against visiting Cheyenne at 7 p.m. Friday.
Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said he liked his players’ performance down the stretch.
“Nobody wants to be behind,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep your composure.”
The Gaels took a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter on Colin Ditsworth 27-yard field goal. That lead held up through halftime, but not much longer as Legacy’s Dontrell Hall returned the second-half kickoff 74 yards to set up an 8-yard TD run by Deshae Edwards.
Welte carried for 96 yards on 19 carries to lead Gorman. Edwards posted 76 yards on 17 carries for Legacy (7-4).
Cheyenne 32, Bonanza 7 — At Cheyenne, Marcus Sullivan rushed for 160 yards, including touchdowns of 65 and 35 yards in the fourth quarter, and the Desert Shields advanced in the Sunset Region with a 26-point second half against the Bengals.
Cheyenne (10-1) advanced to play Bishop Gorman (11-0) at 7 p.m. Friday. Bonanza finished 6-5.
The Desert Shields led 6-0 after halftime on Jordan Butler’s 5-yard run and a couple of key defensive stops. Bonanza failed to score on a 14-play drive in the first quarter when Damien Proby sacked Bengals quarterback Sterling Sprau on fourth-and-goal at the Cheyenne 7-yard line. Bonanza also came up empty on a 12-play drive in the second quarter.
The Desert Shields made it a runaway in the second half. Terrence Brison, who rushed for 71 yards on seven carries, broke several tackles to score on a 47-yard run midway through the third quarter. Sullivan’s 65-yard TD run came on Cheyenne’s first play of the fourth quarter, and Brison’s 2-point conversion run made it 20-0.
Bonanza ended the shutout with a 48-yard TD pass from Sprau to Aaron Simon with 7:57 to play.
Sullivan answered with his second TD run, and Greg Lawson scored for Cheyenne on a 29-yard fumble return.
Las Vegas 52, Foothill 20 — At Las Vegas, Emir Lopez threw five touchdowns and ran for another as the Wildcats topped the Falcons in the Sunrise Region.
Las Vegas (10-1) will host Green Valley (8-3) in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. Foothill, the No. 4 seed from the Southeast League, finished 4-7.
The Falcons scored first on Connor Afoa’s 69-yard punt return. Foothill also drove to the Wildcat 19 with less than a minute left in the first half, but freshman defensive back Barry Williams intercepted a Aaron Dupin pass and raced 53 yards to the Foothill 33.
On the next play, Lopez tossed a shovel pass to Reggie Bullock, who broke three tackles on his way to the end zone for a 28-14 Las Vegas lead at halftime.
Foothill had 177 total yards of offense before the Dupin interception, but just 73 after.
“To have a freshman in that position make a big play for us was huge,” Wildcat coach Chris Faircloth said. “They (Foothill) had just marched 80 yards to pull to within seven, and that turnover really let the air out of their bag. I can’t say enough about the way Emir played tonight.”
Lopez completed 15-of-22 passes for 280 yards and threw two TDs each to Bullock and Aaron Franklin, and one to Saeveon Butler. Lopez also had a 29-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter.
“This isn’t an easy offense to get, and Emir has done and excellent job learning the system,” Faircloth said. “We did make some mistakes, and had problems in the special teams department, but it’s good to get the win. “We have struggled in the past in the opening round, and it’s great that this one is behind us.”
Cameron Rogers, who came in the game for Bullock in the fourth quarter, led the Wildcats with 78 yards on six carries and scored the game’s final touchdown on a 4-yard run. The Wildcats outgained the Falcons, 474-250.
Basic 34, Valley 21 — At Basic, the sixth-ranked Wolves scored the final 27 points to erase a 21-7 deficit and turn back the Vikings in the Sunrise Region.
Robby Faiman rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries and threw for 170 yards and a touchdown to lead Basic (8-3) into the regional semifinals against Del Sol (9-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Martell Walker had two 1-yard touchdown runs for the Wolves. His score with 9:26 left in the third quarter gave Basic its first lead, 28-21.
Valley quarterback Kerwynn Williams ran 56 yards for a touchdown and passed for 54 and 29 yards for scores, giving the Vikings a 21-7 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter.
The Wolves’ comeback began when Faiman hit Justin Burdno for a 20-yard touchdown late in the quarter, then teammate Anthany Lessier got involved.
After Williams drove Valley into Basic territory, Anthany Lessier stepped in front of a Williams pass at the Basic 25 and returned the interception 75 yards for a tying touchdown.
Lessier then picked off a Williams pass at the Valley 25 early in the fourth quarter to set up Walker’s go-ahead score four plays later.
Lessier iced the game on Basic’s ensuing possession, scoring on a 19-yard run to cap a five-play, 88-yard drive.
The teams each tallied 280 yards in the first half, but Basic had a 190-59 edge after that.
Williams rushed for 170 yards and passed for 95 for the Vikings (5-6), but he was held to 39 combined yards in the second half and had four turnovers.
Palo Verde 21, Sierra Vista 7 — At Palo Verde, Chaz Thomas rushed for 153 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and Panthers made three interceptions to beat the Mountain Lions in the Sunset Region.
The game was a rematch of the Panthers’ 28-0 shutout of Sierra Vista in last year’s first playoff round and Palo Verde’s fourth victory in two years over the Lions.
The Panthers (11-0) will play Cimarron-Memorial (7-4) in the Sunset semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday. Sierra Vista finished 5-6.
Thomas scored from 2 and 5 yards in the fourth quarter, giving Palo Verde a safe 21-0 lead.
Sierra Vista’s Akil Sharp scored on a 1-yard run with a minute left and then recovered an onside kick, but the Panthers’ final interception ended the game.
Palo Verde scored in the first quarter on a 43-yard pass from Kelly Zuroski to Sidney Hodge.
The Mountain Lions put together two long drives, but interceptions by Alex Bonczyk and Torin Harris stopped them.
Green Valley 32, Desert Pines 12 — At Green Valley, the Gators sped to a 32-0 halftime lead and held off the Jaguars in the Sunrise Region.
After its first playoff victory in 11 years, Green Valley (8-3) will play Las Vegas (10-1) in the regional semis at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Gators led 10-0 after the first quarter and added three touchdowns in the second quarter, two on passes from Nick Libonati to Skyler Holloway of 27 and 20 yards.
In the first quarter, Green Valley scored on a 10-yard run by Quincy Bagsby and a 33-yard field goal by Nolan Kohorst. Dallas Halasz returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Libonati finished with 95 yards passing. Donovan Bosque also recovered a fumble for Green Valley.
Desert Pines, the Northeast League’s No. 3 seed, lost quarterback Dalton Leilua to an ankle sprain with late in the first quarter and had only 6 yards from scrimmage in the half.
Junior quarterback Paul Bennett led the Jaguars (4-6) on two second-half scoring drives.