- The quick and steep accent of the Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
football program to national prominence hit its peak on Friday night.
At least for now. The Gaels still appear to have room to rise.
Gorman beat its highest ranked team in school history with a 27-22 home victory over Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
on a hot and steamy night before 5,000 fans and a national-television audience.
Fourth-year starter Anu Solomon
completed 13 of 17 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns and ran for the team's fourth score as the 11th-ranked Gaels held on against No. 10 Good Counsel.
Solomon completed two of his touchdowns to Ryan Smith
, the second a 70-yard catch and run that gave Gorman a 27-7 lead with 5:10 left in the third.
Good Counsel never gave in, took advantage of two fumble recoveries and closed to 27-22 with 1-yard touchdown run by
with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left. The Clemson-bound back finished with 20 rushes for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
But Gorman, which finished with 370 yards, ran out the clock to make amends for a home-opening loss to Armwood last year in another nationally-televised game.
"This has to be our biggest win ever," Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. "And the best part about it is we played so many guys to make it happen."
That's because the Gaels were all cramping up.
That included their top all-around player, running back and safety Nathan Starks. He sat out almost the entire second half as did standout junior defensive end Isaiah Nacua. At least three others were out the second half.
But the Gaels had a big enough cushion by then thanks to touchdown passes of 27, 17 and 70 yards from Solomon. He also sprinted around right end on a 9-yard touchdown, making it a superb debut for the Arizona-bound signal caller.
"We can play with anyone," Solomon said. "But we can play even better."
They played pretty darned well on its first drive of the season, going 82 yards in six plays, capped by his 27-yard TD pass to Smith, a 5-7, 167-pounder. Solomon read the blitz, checked off at the line and found Smith with a perfect strike over his left shoulder.
"We've been playing together so long we know where we're going to be," Smith said. "He put the ball right where it was supposed to be."
Said Solomon: "It was a great series to start the season."
Good Counsel, which features 14 Division I players, came right back, as Virgina-bound quarterback Brendan Marshall
completed seven consecutive passes, five to highly-touted Kendall Fuller
to key a 14-play, 85-yard drive capped off with an 8-yard TD run by O'Daniel.
The PAT snap was bad, holder CJ Carroll
picked it up and ran it home, giving Good Counsel's its only lead 8-7.
"We just played a better team tonight," Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy said. "They're a terrific team. We could have tackled better and that's something we'll work on."
Gorman took the lead for good on a 9-yard scramble by Solomon with 9:43 left in the half. The score was set up on a 35-yard punt return by Terrance Chambers
and a 24-yard run by Starks.
Starks intercepted a deflected pass, but then cramped up late in the second half. But his replacement Tajon Allen
took a middle screen and got up field in a flash for a 17-yard touchdown with 1:06 left in the half to take control.
With three more games against nationally-known programs - including St. Louis (Honolulu) next week - the Gaels have a shot to contend for a national title. They also host New Jersey power Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)
, ranked 17th in the country. Gorman's national title hopes took a hit when another top program Servite (Calif.) was defeated soundly 40-23 Friday by Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
"One week at a time," Sanchez said. "But we'll enjoy this one tonight."
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax.