SANTA ANA- One of the biggest Friday night games in Southern Section history. National #1 against national #2. Best in California battles best in Nevada. Future USC quarterback J.T. Daniels clashing with UCLA commit Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Mater Dei vs. Bishop Gorman.
It lived up to the hype. In an epic showdown with star studded D1-bound talent all over the field, Mater Dei prevailed, 35-21.
“It’s hard to put into words how you feel after a win like this,” Daniels said.
“The kids did exactly what I asked them to do, they played one down at a time,” Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson added.
In 90-degree heat, at the start of the third quarter, Mater Dei needed a big play. Up 21-7 after a second half opening drive Nikko Remigio touchdown catch from JT Daniels, the Monarch defense needed to shut the door on any Bishop Gorman comeback hopes.
Sophomore defensive back Darion Green stepped up to the plate. Green picked off Thompson-Robinson and returned it 42-yards to the house, giving Mater Dei a 28-7 advantage.
Gorman failed to respond, running a fake punt on 4th down that resulted in a Zion Alefosio interception. The Gales defense held up well, however, and got the ball back to Thompson-Robinson by turning Mater Dei over on downs.
To start the fourth quarter, a Thompson-Robinson bomb to Cedric Tillman advanced Gorman to the Mater Dei five-yard line. One play later, Amod Cianelli scored on a 5-yard run to bring Gorman back to within two scores.
Down 28-14 with just over 10 minutes remaining, Gorman wasn’t finished off just yet. The Gales defense came up with a huge stop, forcing Mater Dei into a quick three-and-out. Moments after recapturing possession, Thompson-Robinson connected with six-foot-two tight end Brevin Jordan for a 41-yard touchdown. Gorman was only down one score.
Mater Dei needed to steal momentum back, and kill any final Gorman comeback hopes. Daniels guided the offense down the field, and running back Shakobe Harper dashed into the end zone for a 20-yard score.
With 7:13 remaining, down 35-21, Gorman had to score quick. Two plays in, Mater Dei stole any life Gorman had left. Senior defensive back Stephon Robins intercepted Thompson-Robinson, and with just under six minutes left Mater Dei took full control.
For the Monarchs, Daniels threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Harper provided Mater Dei the balance necessary to dominate a stout Gorman defense, rushing for 116 yards and two scores.
Thompson-Robinson left everything on the field for Gorman, passing for 334 yards and two scores. Tillman scored once, and caught seven passes for 182 yards.
“We took too many shots tonight,” Thompson-Robinson added.
Mater Dei retains their MaxPreps number one national ranking, sending Gorman home with their first loss in 55 games.