The door was left open for Arbor View to steal the momentum early in Saturday’s Sunset Region football championship game.
When the Aggies didn’t take advantage, Bishop Gorman quickly slammed it shut.
Arbor View failed to capitalize on two golden opportunities in the second quarter, and Gorman’s Tate Martell threw five touchdown passes to lead the Gaels to a 56-17 road win over the Aggies.
“If you get a chance against them, you have to convert,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “You have to. And we didn’t convert. Because they’re going to score.”
Gorman (14-0) will look for an eighth consecutive state title when it faces Liberty (12-1) for the Class 4A championship at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Arbor View (10-2) led twice in the first quarter after scoring on its first two possessions. Carter Andrade’s 43-yard field goal with 11:02 to go in the second quarter gave the Aggies a 10-7 lead.
It lasted all of 13 seconds.
Gorman answered with an 80-yard bomb from Martell to Jalen Nailor to make it 14-10, and Gorman didn’t trail again.
“That really was like the game changer right there,” Nailor said. “Our team was really low energy. And from that play on, we just reached the sky.”
But not before handing Arbor View a couple opportunities to keep it close. Gorman went for it on fourth-and-inches from its own 16, and failed to convert, giving the Aggies the ball with 7:53 to go in the half. But Arbor View managed to lose a yard in three plays, and Andrade’s 34-yard field goal was wide left.
Andrew Wagner intercepted a Martell pass on the ensuing Gorman possession, and the Aggies took over at the Gorman 41. But Wagner was stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the 32, and it was all Gorman from there.
“We know that if we just start playing our game — which it just takes time — we know eventually it will happen,” Martell said. “And if we just start playing our game, that we’ll spread it open like we did.”
Arbor View held Gorman’s running game in check early, and the Gaels had just 14 yards on their first six carries. But Martell scrambled for 19 yards on third-and-8, and Biaggio Ali Walsh had a 17-yard run on the next play to help keep Gorman’s next drive alive. Ali Walsh capped it with a 2-yard TD run that made it 21-10 with 59.3 seocnds left in the half. After Greg Francis picked off a Hayden Bollinger pass, Martell found Brevin Jordan for a 23-yard scoring pass to make it 28-10 with 30.4 seconds left in the half.
“They’re a good football team; they came out strong,” Gorman coach Kenny Sanchez said. “But our boys, like they did all the time, they finished and it ended with a running clock.”
Ali Walsh broke off a 90-yard TD run on the first play of the second half to essentially end any suspense.
Martell completed 12 of 23 passes for 268 yards. Nailor finished with six catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
“There’s just games where one dude’s going to be open a lot,” Martell said. “He did a good job of getting open, and it just all worked out.”
Gorman stirred up some hard feelings after Martell’s 23-yard scoring pass to Nailor made it 49-17 with 4:10 to play.
Arbor View was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, and the penalty was assessed on the kickoff, moving the ball to the Arbor View 45.
Even after a 5-yard penalty, Gorman went for the onside kick, and Austin Arnold recovered for Gorman. That set up a 5-yard scoring run by Amod Cianelli with 1:30 to play that triggered the running clock.
“When the ball’s on the positive 45-yard line, if you kick an onside kick and don’t get it, they get the ball back on the 35,” Sanchez said. “So it’s football 101. If you get a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, you kick an onside kick, because you’re not losing any yards.”
Bollinger completed 10 of 17 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns for Arbor View, which was making its third straight appearance in the Sunset final.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-458. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.