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Bishop Gorman rallies past St. John Bosco in showdown

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St. John Bosco falls, 35-20

Zigging and zagging and improvising like a magician on a stage, quarterback Tate Martell of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman showed once again on Friday why he has never lost a high school football game playing for the Gaels, the No. 1 team in America.

The 5-foot-11 senior passed for 183 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 113 yards and one touchdown and pretty much single-handedly ignited the Gaels’ comeback from a 14-point deficit to a 35-20 victory over Bellflower St. John Bosco at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach.

“There’s a reason he’s going to Ohio State,” St. John Bosco Coach Jason Negro said. “The kid has a lot of moxie, a lot of poise.”

He’s 33-0 as the quarterback for Bishop Gorman (3-0). He fired touchdown passes of 49 and 44 yards to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who happens to be the backup quarterback. He added a 25-yard touchdown to Brevin Jordan.

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Sophomore running back Amod Cianelli made a major contribution with 117 yards rushing and one touchdown after standout Biaggio Ali Walsh had to leave the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.

The advantage was with St. John Bosco (2-1) early on, but no lead is safe with Martell on the other team. The Braves opened a 14-0 lead, getting a spectacular seven-yard touchdown run from Demetrius Flowers in which he broke or slipped six tackles. Then there was a 38-yard sprint for a touchdown by quarterback Re-al Mitchell.

By halftime, Bishop Gorman trailed, 20-14, and Martell was preparing to unleash all the skills that have made him so invaluable. He directed an 87-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter for a 21-20 lead. Jordan caught his scoring pass from Martell, who broke containment several times and contributed with his legs and arm.

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“He made some pretty big plays,” Negro said. “You can’t let him do what he does best — ad lib under pressure. The guy wins.”

Bishop Gorman hurt itself with nine penalties for 95 yards in the first half. St. John Bosco was doing about as good a job as you could ask for in trying to contain Martell, getting good pressure and then chasing him down. The competitive level kept rising as the game wore on.

It was 15 years ago, on Oct. 6, 2001, when Veterans Memorial Stadium was the site for perhaps the most hyped battle of nationally ranked teams — No. 1 Long Beach Poly against No. 2 Concord De La Salle. De La Salle won, 29-15, before 17,321 as future NFL running back Maurice Drew rushed for 165 yards and scored four touchdowns.

This time, the crowd was far smaller (maybe 8,000), and it’s still undetermined how accomplished this game’s players will be despite projections that more than 20 of them will end up playing in college.

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What’s clear is how good a player Martell is.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: @latsondheimer


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