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Bishop Gorman blows out McQueen to recapture state title

Jake Taylor didn’t mince words when talking about Bishop Gorman regaining the state football championship.

“In my opinion, the king is back, and I think we’re going to hold that for a very long time,” Taylor said.

The Gaels’ senior offensive lineman scored the game’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run, and Gorman was off and running to a 56-7 win over McQueen in the Class 5A state championship game Thursday at Allegiant Stadium.

Gorman scored touchdowns on all seven of its possessions and added a Jamih Otis 17-yard fumble return for a defensive touchdown in a dominant performance.

For most programs, a three-year gap between state titles is nothing. But at a place such as Gorman, which expects to win it every year and did for 10 straight from 2009 to 2018, it was an agonizing wait to get back to the top.

“There’s a sense of accomplishment, more than there has been for a long time,” Gorman coach Brent Browner said. “When you go on that run, that’s (winning state) expected. Theirs is unexpected. That’s a great team we just played, but we just rose to a different level.”

The Gaels (12-1) outgained the Lancers 549-90, with a defensive effort that limited McQueen star running back and Nebraska commit Ashton Hayes to 22 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries.

Micah Alejado threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns to three receivers, and backup Styles Stockham ran for a score and threw for another for Gorman, which outscored its nine in-state opponents 530-27.

Gorman had two touchdowns called back on its opening drive before Taylor’s, which came when he lined up at fullback and ran straight up the middle, finally counted.

“I was doubting (we’d run it),” Taylor said. “I was thinking, OK, let’s have some fun in practice, or I thought if we were going to run it, it’d be at the end of the game or something like that. Then I heard ‘30 gut’ and was like, OK, here we go.”

Zachariah Branch had six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown, Jonathan Brady caught three passes for 84 yards that included a 61-yard score, and Elijah Lofton hauled in a 79-yard scoring strike from Stockham, who also scored on a 9-yard run. Cam Barfield led the Gaels with 43 yards rushing and a 1-yard TD.

Branch scored twice, on a punt return and jet sweep, before finally getting into the end zone on a 5-yard pass from Alejado that made the score 42-0 at halftime.

“I wasn’t getting frustrated, because I know every time I touch the ball I’m going to make a play,” Branch said. “And my teammates were all balling, too, so I was just happy for them.”

Robby Snelling was hounded throughout the game and finished 4-for-15 for 99 yards for McQueen. He carried nine times for minus-31 yards. He set up the only score for McQueen (10-2) with a 58-yard completion to Corbyn Wadleigh in the third quarter.

About the only thing that went wrong for Gorman was 163 yards worth of penalties.

“This is a great team overall. We worked really hard for this,” Gorman safety Zion Branch said. “This is one of the best teams I’ve played on and the best camaraderie we’ve had overall. This team is connected on a deeper level that doesn’t show on the field.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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