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Gaels crush McQueen to earn second straight state title

Bishop Gorman football coach Tony Sanchez got the Gatorade bath with about two minutes to play Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
In reality, the game was over long before that.
The Gaels (13-2) scored on a pair of long touchdown passes in the second quarter and cruised to a 40-0 victory over McQueen (12-2) for the team’s second consecutive Class 4A state championship.
“They’re a great football program and a great team,” McQueen coach Jim Snelling said. “They pretty well beat us in every phase of the game today.”
Gorman sophomore quarterback Jarrett Solomon, who sat out the first quarter for missing a practice, wasted little time making his presence felt. On his third snap Solomon hit Ryan Smith with a 32-yard touchdown pass to put the Gaels up 16-0 with 11:18 to go in the half.
Sanchez said McQueen had started to creep up to stop the run, allowing the Gaels to look deep.
“If you get first-and-10 on their side of the field you take a shot,” Sanchez said. “It’s one of those calls that’s kind of a no-brainer. And it worked out and I think that kind of changed the momentum.”
It was just Solomon’s second pass attempt, but he hit the speedy Smith in stride just outside the end zone.
“Anu Solomon, he’s a hell of a quarterback,” Smith said. “And I’m glad he’s on our team. I tell him every day to just throw me the ball and I’ll catch it.”
Solomon threw the ball Smith’s way again, and the sophomore receiver came up with a great catch for a 57-yard touchdown with 3:09 to go in the half.
The pass appeared to be just out of Smith’s reach, but he extended his arms and snagged the back half of the ball with his fingertips near the 10 and sprinted in for the score.
“I tell Anu every day to overthrow me,” Smith said. “He led me a little bit, but I ran and got under it and caught it.”
Snelling admitted that the two long passes hurt his team’s chances of a comeback.
“They’ve got great speed at the receivers and they’ve got a very good quarterback, and he made great throws and great plays,” Snelling said.
Collin Ditsworth hit a 39-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to make it 26-0, and Solomon added an 11-yard TD pass to Jamir Tillman with 7:55 to go in the third quarter for a 33-0 lead.
The Gaels got a 3-yard TD run from Shaquille Powell with 4:01 to go in the third quarter to close the scoring, and Sanchez emptied his bench from there.
Solomon completed 9 of 15 passes for 179 yards and three TDs, giving him 41 TD passes on the season.
But backup quarterback Makoa Tyndall and the defense helped stake the Gaels to a 9-0 lead before Solomon even took the field.
Gorman pinned McQueen deep in its own territory on its first possession, and a bad snap forced punter Jace Carlson to cover the ball in the end zone for a safety.
After the free kick, the Gaels drove 42 yards on seven plays, capped by a 6-yard TD run by Jordan Welte for a 9-0 lead with 2:12 to go in the first quarter.
Gorman’s defense posted its eighth shutout of the season, and limited McQueen to 25 rushing yards and 101 yards of total offense.
“People keep talking about our offense,” Sanchez said. “Our offense is OK. But our defense is what wins.”
Junior defensive back Jelani Walls helped key the defense and special teams, blocking a field goal and intercepting a pass.
Senior defensive end Jalen Grimble, who has committed to Southern California, helped with a sack in his final game at Gorman.
He said going out on top is an incredible feeling.
“For myself, it’s an amazing thing, but when I look around it’s even more important for my teammates,” Grimble said. “The one thing I wanted to do was send my seniors out on top along with myself, and that’s exactly what I did.”

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