The road to a mythical national championship is rarely paved smoothly.
The Bishop Gorman football team still is traveling down that road despite hitting a major pothole on Friday night.
Gage Wilson kicked a 26-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, and Nicco Fertitta forced a game-ending fumble as the host Gaels survived 23-20 against Bingham (Utah) in a showdown between nationally ranked teams.
“That’s what it is, collective effort,” Gaels coach Tony Sanchez said. “A lot of guys stepped up and made plays at different times. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. You know what, if you’re going to win them all, you’re going to win some ugly.”
Gorman (3-0), ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today, overcame four fake-punt attempts by the Miners — three were successful — a late fumble and a bizarre ending. The Gaels led 20-17 and were on the verge of running out the final minute of play when quarterback Tate Martell fumbled the second-down snap and No. 18 Bingham recovered at the Gaels’ 46-yard line with 48 seconds remaining.
Bingham’s Chayden Johnston made a 47-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 20.
“The quarterback came out a little early,” Sanchez said. “It’s one of those things where you couldn’t just take a knee because they had the two timeouts. So you’re in a situation where you don’t want to punt down there. That was just another one of everything that went wrong.”
On the ensuing kickoff, the Miners (2-1) were flagged for fair-catch interference, giving Gorman possession at the Bingham 42. Because of the fair catch, Gorman opted to attempt a free kick on the final play, and Wilson’s try, which would have won the game, fell inches short of the crossbar.
In the overtime, Gaels tight end Alize Jones nearly made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone on third down before Gorman settled for Wilson’s go-ahead field goal.
Bingham quarterback Kyle Gearig was stopped for a 2-yard loss on the Miners’ first play of overtime, and Fertitta came from behind to strip Gearig on second down. Haskell Garrett recovered for Gorman, ending the game and setting off a huge celebration on the Gaels’ sideline.
“I can’t even take credit for that play,” said Fertitta, who also had a first-quarter interception. “That’s my defensive coordinator (Kenny Sanchez) and my defense setting me up for that play. We all fought hard. It was a great game. Bingham’s a hell of a team. You know, winners find a way, and that’s what we did.”
Martell, who came on in relief of Danny Hong late in the first half of last week’s victory at Servite (Calif.), earned the start at quarterback for Gorman. The sophomore finished 11-of-21, with 189 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 61 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Martell led a 10-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with his 10-yard strike to Cordell Broadus that put Gorman on top 20-17 early in the fourth quarter. The key play on the drive came from Hong, who scrambled for 5 yards on a third-and-5 to keep the drive alive. Hong had to come in for one play after Martell had his helmet knocked off on the previous play.
Jones made a leaping 36-yard grab to give Gorman a 13-0 lead with 9:39 to play in the second quarter, one play after the Gaels stopped Bingham on a fake punt. However, the Miners answered with 17 unanswered points and took a four-point lead with 2:47 to play in the third quarter on Johnston’s 32-yard field goal.
Russell Booze ran for 118 yards on 17 carries and scored on a 9-yard run on the second play of the second quarter to put the Gaels on top 6-0.
Cameron Smith rushed for 97 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown run for Bingham’s first score of the game, making it 13-7 after the extra point. He also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Gearig that put the Miners up 14-13 at halftime.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.