You can't blame No. 7 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman for falling in love with its passing game during the first half against No. 30 Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral Saturday night.
After all, the pass produced a touchdown during the team's impressive opening drive and should have produced two others - coming up short only because of an overthrow from quarterback Jarrett Solomon on one play and the over-exuberance of offensive lineman Nick Strehlow (who was called for a personal foul to call back a score) on another.
But when Bishop Gorman came out for the second half finding itself down by a touchdown, it knew it had to rediscover its true passion play - the strong running of Shaquille Powell behind one of the strongest offensive lines in the country.
Going almost exclusively to Powell in the second half, Bishop Gorman overpowered and overwhelmed Chaparral for a 42-22 victory in the Sollenberger Classic Saturday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Powell, who finished the game with 30 carries for 300 yards and six total TDs (five on the ground), ran for 179 yards and three TDs on just 14 carries in the third quarter alone.
Behind the line of Ronnie Stanley, Ron Scoggins, Strehlow and others, Bishop Gorman showed why it has the look of a team that can compete for a national title.
"The third quarter we just knew we had to pound the ball," told the Las Vegas Sun. "We weren't pounding it like we wanted to. We went together and we went like we need to run this the rock, we need to open up this pass game, we need to hit those holes. We need to score. We need to get those yards. We had to wear them out. We had to get that advantage."
Powell, who had a TD reception in the first half, took over the game on the opening possession of the second half. He gained nearly every yard of Gorman's impressive 80-yard drive that culminated in a 45-yard TD run that tied the game at 14 with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
Then came the turning point.
Bishop Gorman caught Chaparral on the ensuing kickoff, easily recovering an onside kick to retain possession. Powell went in again; this time it was a 7-yard run that gave Gorman a 21-14 lead with 6:01 left.
Chaparral finally got a chance with the ball, but went three-and-out without gaining a single yard.
Powell went to work again, scoring again on the ground to give Gorman a 28-14 lead.
Gorman outgained Chaparral, 198-2, in the third quarter. What looked like an even battle at halftime was suddenly a rout.
Powell added two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter - sandwiching them around an 82-yard catch-and-run by Chaparral star Devonte Neal.
One can only wonder why it took Gorman a half to remember it figures to be able to run the ball against almost anyone.
It better not forget the lesson. Next Friday night, Bishop Gorman hosts No. 5 Seffner (Fla.) Armwood in a nationally televised game - one Gorman coach Tony Sanchez already is thinking about.
"Thank God we were able to take care of the first part. We knew it would be a six-day grind," Sanchez told the Las Vegas Sun. "It is an eight-quarter game, not a four-quarter game. We are going to see a defense next week that is extremely physical and extremely fast. But that is OK. We'll be fine."
As long as Gorman remembers to run the ball.
RH Take: This was a tale of two halves; it was as if Gorman wanted to feel out the game and wait for adjustments. The Gaels dominated play in the third quarter and made the final score more lopsided than the game was but it did not disprove a worry that the team could implode at any time as mistakes and penalties compounded one another in bunches. Gorman was the more talented team and it showed but it will not be able to out-athlete its opponent next week when it scraps with No. 5 Seffner (Fla.) Armwood.