Bishop Gorman senior tight end Alize Jones took a seat at midfield as the final seconds ticked off the clock Friday night at Gorman.
The emotion of what he and his teammates had just done overtook him, as the Gaels closed out a 34-31 victory over St. John Bosco (Calif.), which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today. The Braves had won 19 consecutive games.
“It’s indescribable,” Jones said. “What we were able to accomplish this year, it’s unbelievable. So many people doubted us, and we continued to believe in ourselves no matter what the critics had to say.”
The game between the No. 2 Gaels and top-ranked Braves didn’t go off as planned, as lightning delayed the start almost an hour.
But the delay didn’t seem to slow Gorman (6-0), which marched down the field on its opening possession, scoring on a 5-yard scramble by quarterback Tate Martell to take a 7-0 lead with 6:51 to go in the first quarter.
Martell had a key play on the drive, eluding the pass rush on fourth-and-8 and hitting Tyjon Lindsey with a 13-yard pass to keep the drive alive.
“I don’t know if it was the break or just the way we started the game,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “Either way, I think we just started the game faster.”
St. John Bosco (3-1) got a 39-yard field goal from Eric Daniels with 11:30 to go in the second quarter, but the rest of the half belonged to the Gaels.
Russell Booze ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive following Daniels’ field goal. Booze burst straight ahead through the line and went untouched for the score.
On its next possession, Gorman marched 75 yards on 12 plays, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Jonathan Shumaker to make the score 20-3 with 4:23 to go in the half. That drive was aided by a roughing the kicker penalty on the Braves when Gorman initially was forced to punt.
“We wanted to come out starting fast,” Jones said. “We knew if we came out starting fast and we put up points on the board, that would open their eyes up a little bit. We knew we had to take them to deep water, and that’s what we did.”
Martell would again make big plays with his legs in the second half, keeping plays alive before completing big passes. He avoided the rush and found Lindsey open on the left sideline for a short gain. Lindsey took it 67 yards, cutting all the way across the field, for a touchdown that put Gorman up 27-3 with 7:02 to go in the third quarter.
Martell later escaped the rush and lobbed a 24-yard TD pass to a wide open Jones to make the score 34-10 with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
“Tate, it’s unbelievable what he can do with his feet,” Jones said. “As a receiving corps, we always say keep moving and watch what Tate does. He’s like Johnny Manziel out there on the field, and he can make plays.”
Martell finished 12-for-17 for 224 yards, and Booze rushed for 159 yards on 24 carries.
St. John Bosco quarterback Josh Rosen, the top-rated quarterback in the senior class, according to Rivals.com, didn’t fare as well, completing 14 of 27 for 263 yards.
But he heated up in the second half, showing tremendous arm strength and leading drives that got the Braves back into the game.
Sean McGrew had a 6-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 34-17 with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Rosen added TD tosses of 25 yards to Jarrett Balter and 8 yards to Kaylin Franklin in the fourth quarter.
The pass to Franklin made the score 34-31 with 1:12 to play. St. John Bosco went for the onside kick, but Lindsey recovered for Gorman, and the Gaels ran out the clock to win their 15th consecutive game.
Sanchez said the stadium had an atmosphere worthy of a battle of the nation’s top two teams.
“Our kids were here two hours before the game, they were amped up, they were cheering,” Sanchez said. “It was like that all day. It was awesome.”
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.