Patience was in short supply at times for the national powerhouse team from Nevada.
Bishop Gorman, the unofficial national champion in 2014, ’15 and ’16, battled back from a 21-0 deficit to stay in puncher’s range. Down 21-13, the Gaels had momentum. They had Saint Louis’ potent offense stymied a bit. Then came a key turnover that led directly to a Saint Louis defensive touchdown by linebacker Nick Herbig.
The 15th-ranked Gaels got no closer than the final deficit in a 31-19 loss to the 10th-ranked Crusaders. Coach Kenny Sanchez’s first thought after the game was on his injured defensive end, Dahlin Mesake. The highly-recruited senior suffered a neck injury during the third quarter after being accidentally speared by a teammate on a Saint Louis running play.
He was stabilized by trainers, then taken by ambulance to a hospital. He lifted an arm and gave a thumb’s up before being lifted into the ambulance, bringing a sense of relief to coaches, players and fans on both sides of the turf at Aloha Stadium.
“We’re waiting to find out, obviously. Our hearts go out to him. Hopefully, everything is OK. It was a kind of scary part of the game. We said our prayers and talked with his parents. Hopefully, he’s OK,” said Sanchez, who has guided the Gaels to four of their 10 consecutive Nevada state championships.
It was while Sanchez was being interviewed that a skirmish erupted during the post-game handshake line, effectively ending what had been a peaceful show of sportsmanship by each side. Both teams had their fill of penalties and personal fouls during the heated battle. For the Gaels, now 1-1, there will be ample opportunity to get better when they return to Las Vegas on Sunday.
Saint Louis couldn’t completely stop the connection between QB Micah Bowens — who truly resembled Arizona’s dual-threat signal-caller, Khalil Tate — and WR Rome Odunze. They teamed up for two TDs despite close coverage by the Crusaders’ secondary.
The mental errors are fixable. The spear that led to Mesoke’s injury. A fumble by a running back who thought the play was dead after he dropped a lateral toss from Bowens that led to a fumble recovery and TD by Herbig. The post-game skirmish, with Sanchez and his coaches corralling one of their players. There will always be in-game and post-game banter, but the Gaels will go as far as their patience and discipline take them.