It took Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) little time to establish itself on Friday night at Bishop Gorman.
And the Pride never let up.
Mountain Pointe scored on its first play from scrimmage on the way to a 28-21 Sollenberger Classic victory over the Gaels, ranked No. 21 by USA Today.
“It was kind of a frustrating game,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “I felt like it really took us a long time to get the offense going. We sputtered at times, and we never really found ourselves.”
Paul Lucas went in motion on the Pride’s first play, took the handoff and sprinted around the left side for a 48-yard touchdown run. Ryan Sheehan’s extra point made it 7-0 with 9:48 to go in the first quarter, and Mountain Pointe never trailed.
Lucas and Wesley Payne combined to rush for 300 yards and three touchdowns for the Pride.
“That’s disappointing,” Sanchez said. “Any time you give up 100 yards to a single guy, it’s tough; you’re talking about 200 yards, that’s unacceptable. To give up that many yards on the ground, it’s going to be tough to win the game. You saw it at the end, we just couldn’t get the ball back.”
Payne’s 5-yard touchdown run with 5:13 to play appeared to seal the game, putting Mountain Pointe up 28-14.
But Daniel Stewart returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to bring the Gaels within one score with 4:57 to play.
Gorman never got the ball back, as the Pride marched to the Gorman 6 and then took a knee to run out the clock.
Payne finished with 167 yards on 21 carries, and Lucas ran for 133 yards on eight carries. He added a 30-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Gorman, meanwhile, struggled to get any consistency from its offense. Quarterback Randall Cunningham, making his first varsity start, ran for 102 yards, but the Gaels didn’t get much else going.
Cunningham had six carries for 56 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, on Gorman’s 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that cut the Pride’s lead to 21-14 with 2:56 to go in the third quarter.
“Once we got in the pistol and started giving him the option to hand or go, you saw the run game really start to evolve,” Sanchez said. “And then we had a couple pass plays that broke down, and he turned them into great plays.”
But Cunningham wasn’t as sharp throwing the ball. He completed just 5 of 12 passes for 83 yards, with 48 of those coming on a touchdown pass to Obim Okeke in the second quarter.
“If we don’t do a better job of throwing the ball, we’re going to see eight-, nine-man fronts, and it’s going to be real difficult,” Sanchez said. “We have got to establish a legitimate passing game to keep guys honest.”
Gorman’s defense forced four turnovers, including two after Mountain Pointe had driven into the red zone in the first half. But only one of those turnovers led to a touchdown for the Gaels.
“Defensively, we really actually put the offense in some good situations, and we weren’t able to execute,” Sanchez said. “This is a game that could have easily gone the other way. But my hat’s off to those guys. They outplayed us. We could not take advantage of those turnovers our defense gave us.”
Sanchez said the team would bounce back from the season-opening loss.
“We’ve been here before. We haven’t won every game we’ve ever played,” Sanchez said. “We’ll win some games this year. We’ll be all right.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587.