Updated August 26, 2022 - 11:30 pm
Bishop Gorman football coach Brent Browner gathered his players near the 50-yard line Friday night at Fertitta Field, imploring them to “stay together” after a 24-21 loss to defending national champion Mater Dei.
“That’s the No. 2 team in the nation for a reason,” Browner said amid a sea of Gorman and Mater Dei supporters. “The kids were locked in. They gave us everything they’ve got. That’s all I can ask for at the end of the day.”
The Gaels had leads of 14-0 and 21-7 over the almighty Monarchs, but were undone by Mater Dei’s rushing offense and fell to 0-3 against the powerhouse from Santa Ana, California.
Monarchs senior kicker Andre Medina made the game-winning 25-yard field goal with 3:32 to play.
Gorman crossed midfield on its ensuing drive, but a third-down sack preceded a turnover on downs — and triggered a raucous celebration from MaxPreps’ No. 2-ranked team before a crowd of about 5,000.
“It was definitely a great experience, going up against a team like Mater Dei. They’re ranked high for a reason,” Gaels junior quarterback Micah Alejado said. “Today, we just tried to put our best out there. Great experience. Great atmosphere.”
The sixth-ranked Gaels (1-1) and Monarchs (2-0) have combined to capture seven of the past eight mythical national championships and have forged a rivalry from 270 miles away. Mater Dei sports more than 30 Division I recruits, and the Gaels are also loaded with DI-caliber talents such as Alejado, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 225 yards, three scores and an interception.
Scoring strikes to junior tight end Elija Lofton and senior wide receiver Trech Kakahuna helped the Gaels mount a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But Monarchs junior quarterback Elijah Brown ensured the Monarchs would respond. He found senior Jordan Onovughe for a 10-yard touchdown and completed 19 of 28 passes for 245 yards and three TDs.
Brown was intercepted right before halftime by Gaels senior defensive back Jeremiah Vessel, preserving a 14-7 halftime lead.
Alejado engineered a methodical drive on the first possession of the second half, finding senior Southern California recruit Zachariah Branch for a 13-yard touchdown and 21-7 lead.
But the Gaels wouldn’t score again, as Mater Dei turned to its ground game to disrupt their rhythm and wear out their defense.
Sophomore running back Jordon Davison carried 17 times for 88 yards and helped the Monarchs fatigue Gorman and keep its offense on the sideline. Brown threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to junior Marcus Brown and the game-tying 31-yard score to sophomore Marcus Harris.
The Gaels missed a 37-yard field goal, and Medina delivered on the ensuing possession.
Alejado pushed Gorman past midfield, but was sacked on a third down for the sixth and final time, this one by sophomore linebacker Nasir Wyatt, who waved in jest to the Gaels fans who watched the fourth-down attempt fall short.
“They just made some plays. We didn’t make some plays,” Browner said. “We said it all week. It would come down to who gets the ball last … We just couldn’t score on our last drive.”