Dorian Thompson-Robinson, defense push Gaels into title game

Updated November 24, 2017 - 7:33 pm

Bishop Gorman senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson lamented the penalties and the misreads after his team’s 35-13 victory over Liberty in a Class 4A state semifinal Friday afternoon at Rancho High School.

“Today was just about mistakes,” he said. “If we clean those things up, who knows where this game could have went.”

And while the Gaels (12-2) indeed were quite sloppy with their dominance, their four-star quarterback practically personified perfection.

Thompson-Robinson turned Rancho’s football field into his personal playground, completing 24 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns, and running 37 yards for another score in Gorman’s drubbing of the Patriots (11-2).

The Gaels advance to the Class 4A state championship game opposite Class 4A Northern champion Reed on Dec. 2 in Reno, where they’ll be seeking their ninth consecutive title.

“(Our berth in the championship game) signifies that not only are we really good at the very beginning, we’re just as good at the very end,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “You’ve got to stay healthy, you’ve got to keep grinding and you’ve got to stay focused.”

And have really good players, like Gorman does every year.

Thompson-Robinson and five-star senior linebacker Palaie Gaoteote anchor this group of Gaels and spearheaded their victory.

A broken play in the first quarter turned into a 37-yard touchdown run for Thompson-Robinson, who has committed to UCLA as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

He also helped the Gaels overcome a slew of first-half flubs with two touchdown passes to wide receiver Cedric Tillman — one late in the second quarter and one early in the fourth — and a picturesque 14-yard TD pass to Miami recruit Brevin Jordan.

Gaoteote, a Southern California pledge and the nation’s top linebacker, ensured that Patriots senior quarterback Kenyon Oblad was uncomfortable all afternoon by roughing him up on Liberty’s opening drive and plastering him at every opportunity the rest of the game.

Oblad, the state’s all-time leading passer, never settled in against the Gaels, who smothered Liberty’s offensive line and forced him out of the pocket and into egregious decisions.

“I felt it, you could see our defense felt it as a whole. You could see the timidness in (Oblad),” Gaoteote said. “When he gets in his rhythm, he’s a dangerous man.”

But that didn’t happen until the fourth quarter.

Oblad threw two interceptions in the first half and a third in the second half before throwing his final two high school touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

Oblad, who is deciding between Western Kentucky and UNLV, finished 8 of 23 for 176 yards, the two touchdowns and the three picks.

“(Gaoteote) is a man playing among boys. He’s really hard to game plan for and hard to contain,” Patriots coach Rich Muraco said. “They were able to get pressure on us, which kind of rattled our passing game.”

The Gaels will have five practices to prep for Reed (12-2), which also has a penchant for steamrolling its opponents.

Thompson-Robinson and his fellow seniors are going to relish their final week of practice and the camaraderie that comes with it.

“This being my last year, this has really just been all I could really ask for,” Thompson-Robinson said. “Even though we had those two losses at the beginning of the season, no regrets … I just can’t wait to get up to Reno and get the state title.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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