Bishop Gorman’s football team was within striking distance against the No. 1 team in the country on Friday night.
But three fourth-quarter turnovers ended any hopes the Gaels had of pulling an upset.
Booker T. Washington of Miami turned those turnovers into 14 fourth-quarter points on the way to a 28-12 win at Gorman.
“We had too many turnovers,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “I don’t know what it all came down to. But we had some turnovers, and when you’re playing a team of that caliber, you can’t turn the ball over that many times and expect to win the game.”
Gorman got the ball back with 8:12 to play at its 33. But on the second play of the drive, quarterback Randall Cunningham fumbled on a keeper, and Washington linebacker Terry Jefferson pounced on the ball.
That led to a five-play scoring drive, capped by an 11-yard run by Tornadoes quarterback Treon Harris that made it 21-12 with 7:20 to play.
Cornerback Nigel Bethel then intercepted Cunningham on the ensuing drive, and Washington capitalized again. This time Harris hit wide-open wide receiver Lamar Parker with a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-4 to make it 28-12 with 1:43 left.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Sanchez said. “We played the No. 1 team in the country. We played them tough. It’s not a moral victory, though. We’re past that in this program. That’s a game we fully expected to win, and we felt like we had an opportunity to do that. But at the end, they made more plays than we did.”
Harris threw two first-half touchdown passes to give the Tornadoes (6-0) a 14-0 lead. But Gorman got its ground game going, and Russell Booze scored on an 18-yard run up the middle with 3:36 to go in the first half to cut the Gaels’ deficit to 14-6.
Gorman got within two points when Cunningham hit tight end Alize Jones with a 6-yard touchdown pass in the front corner of the end zone with 6:21 to go in the third quarter. The Gaels faked the kick, but holder Blake Lobato was tackled in the backfield, and Gorman got no closer.
Booze totaled 111 yards on 24 carries.
“Booze did a great job,” Sanchez said. “He really ran the ball up in there. We didn’t have a lot, they didn’t give us a lot, but what they gave us, our guys kind of hung in and rammed it up in there a little bit. So I was proud of him.”
Gorman never got its passing game going. The Gaels attempted just three passes in the first half. Cunningham finished 7-for-15 for 71 yards with three interceptions.
“The game kind of unfolded the way we had hoped, that we could shorten the game and be able to run the ball and be able to get in there with a close game in the second half,” Sanchez said. “And we did that. Unfortunately, we had a couple miscues.”
Gorman made things tough on Harris, sacking the Florida State-bound quarterback three times and pressuring him throughout the night. Linebacker Chris Lalli had two sacks for the Gaels (4-2).
“We told our guys we’re not going to die a slow death in this game,” Sanchez said. “We’re not going to sit back and let that quarterback run around. Nobody had really put pressure on him. I think people were so worried about their team speed and their quarterback’s athleticism that they were a little nervous about giving up big plays. And our kids were committed to it.”
Harris finished 11-for-22 for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 107 yards on 22 carries.
“The defense was lights out,” Sanchez said. “They gave us every opportunity to win the game.”