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Gorman rolls past Florida state champs in postseason bowl

Updated December 17, 2022 - 6:27 pm

Bishop Gorman coach Brent Browner wasn’t sure how the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Florida Class 1M state champions Chaminade-Madonna would go.

The Gaels had not played a game in four weeks, since crushing Bishop Manogue in the Class 5A state title game. Chaminade-Madonna played its state title game Dec. 8.

Browner said the first day back at practice after the layoff was tough, but he quickly saw the Gaels embrace the challenge ahead.

“They all bought in, they all lived it, and they all did it,” Browner said. “I was more impressed than I think I’ve ever been with a team.”

The Gaels (14-1), ranked No. 4 nationally by MaxPreps, showed little rust from their monthlong break as they rolled to a 49-14 win over No. 5 Chaminade-Madonna (13-1) in the Geico State Champions Bowl Series at Bishop Gorman.

Junior tight end Elija Lofton scored five touchdowns, four rushing and one receiving. And the Gorman defense came up with a pair of fourth-down stops in the first quarter and two fumble recoveries in the second quarter.

The first stop came on the game’s opening drive. On fourth-and-2 at midfield, the Gorman defensive line stopped Chaminade-Madonna running back Davion Gause.

Browner said he knew his team was at a slight disadvantage given Chaminade-Madonna’s size, but that early stop set the tone for the rest of the game.

“A lot of teams look at us like, ‘Oh, you guys are small,’ and don’t take us seriously at first,” Browner said. “That stop kind of woke them up and woke up our guys, too, about what we can do.”

Gorman took advantage of the short field when junior quarterback Micah Alejado connected with Lofton for a 16-yard score to take a quick 7-0 lead.

The Gaels forced another fourth-down stop on the ensuing possession and added another touchdown on a 12-yard run from junior Micah Kaapana.

After the Gaels forced a fumble that they recovered in their end zone, Lofton scored his first rushing touchdown from 36 yards out on the ensuing possession. He added an 11-yard TD run to put Gorman up 28-7 at halftime.

Lofton closed out his day with two 5-yard rushing TDs in the second half.

“We didn’t know it was going to go like that, but he’s a hell of a player,” Browner said. “… It just made an opportunity for him to get more touches and more carries. He made the most of that.”

The Gaels were without several senior starters, including wide receiver Zachariah Branch, a Southern California commit.

Lofton finished with 93 all-purpose yards, and Kaapana had 95 rushing yards. Alejado completed 12 of 16 passes for 170 yards.

Browner said representing the state of Nevada on a national stage was a focus in the lead-up to the game to close out another dominant season.

“The time that those coaches have spent, and all the other coaches go into that,” Browner said. “It’s been amazing. It’s been an amazing journey for that.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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