Defense carries Bishop Gorman as offense finds its stride

The Bishop Gorman offense is still working out some of its kinks.

The Gaels’ defense, however, already appears to be in midseason form.

Gorman limited Service’s spread offense to 19 yards on the ground and 107 overall as the host Gaels earned a 24-0 nonleague win Friday over the third-ranked team in Alaska.

It was the second consecutive strong effort from the Gaels’ defense. In their season-opening 16-6 loss to Brophy Prep of Arizona last week, the Gaels (1-1) allowed 14 points and forced three turnovers.

“That team scored (129) points in its first three games,” Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said of the Cougars (3-1), who lost in the Alaska 4A state title game a season ago. “We’ve got a heck of a defense.”

Senior running back Kawika Antolin rushed for 118 yards to lead Gorman’s balanced attack, which saw 10 players carry the ball.

Collin Ditsworth booted a 23-yard field goal to cap a 12-play opening drive. Raphel Finley scored on a 1-yard run with 8:35 left in the second quarter to give the Gaels an 11-0 lead at the break.

Still, the Gaels’ offense suffered through a mistake-filled first half that saw them commit six penalties, send a kickoff out of bounds and have a field-goal attempt blocked.

“In the first half, we made a lot of mistakes. We were lining up in the wrong formation or running the wrong play,” Antolin said. “In the second half, we were determined to do everything right.”

The Cougars’ best shot to get back in the game came early in the third quarter when John Huber muffed a punt and Service recovered at the Gorman 38, but Gorman’s defense held on fourth-and-3 from its 32.

John Therrell hit Charles Childers on a 6-yard touchdown pass and a 17-0 lead with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Antolin broke free for a 55-yard run early in the fourth quarter before being caught from behind, but Gorman couldn’t cash in despite having a second-and-3 from the Service 4.

The Gaels tacked on a late score, though, as receiver Taylor Spencer hauled in a 52-yard TD pass from Huber with 2:04 remaining.

“They say between the first and the second game is when you make the most improvement,” Altshuler said. “Hopefully we can continue to improve.”

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