For the first time in a decade, Bishop Gorman will not win the Nevada state football title.
Liberty (Henderson, Nevada) running back/linebacker Zyrus Fiaseu rushed home a touchdown in overtime to give the Patriots a 30-24 victory over the 10-time reigning champions.
The Patriots overcame their 0-5 season start to run through Nevada competition undefeated and pull of an upset win over the Las Vegas and national powerhouse.
Though Liberty was behind 17-3 in the first half, the team outplayed Bishop Gorman but made a few mistakes that gave away points. In the second half, the Patriots brought forward the same stifling defense, effective offense and energy to score a pair of touchdowns in the third to tie the game.
In overtime, Bishop Gorman missed a field goal. Fiaseu rushed home the winner on the second play of Liberty’s drive.
Here are some takeaways:
Liberty’s tough schedule paid off
Liberty’s first five games came against out-of-state competition that included now-No. 12 Chandler (Arizona) and now-No. 4 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California). The Patriots lost all five.
Against Nevada competition … well, it was no competition. The Patriots gave up a total of 24 points over its next six games, which included the first round of the playoffs. Last week, Liberty won 52-21.
With that adversity Liberty figured out how to come back from adversity. After starting 0-5 on the season, a 17-3 deficit in the first half is nothing. It took just one quarter for the Patriots to come back from that on Friday, tying the score at 17 in the third quarter.
They made mistakes in the first half – but simply correcting those while keeping the energy and dominance in other facets helped them catch up in the second.
Liberty’s first half
It wouldn’t be unfair to say the Patriots outplayed Bishop Gorman in the first half despite the score discrepancy. There were just a few costly mistakes:
They forced Bishop Gorman to fumble – but then promptly fumbled themselves. Later, quarterback Daniel Britt had an open lane to the end zone; the ball slipped out of his hands and Bishop Gorman recovered and took it to the six-yard line. Liberty limited the Gaels to a field goal on the ensuing drive, which might have ended up saving the game.
As the first half came to a close, Liberty missed a last-second field goal.
But Bishop Gorman struggled to get going. Quarterback Micah Bowens and wide receiver Rome Odunze couldn’t light the spark that they have so often. Liberty’s offense, though it wasn’t scoring, moved down the field well enough and ate up time, which allowed its own defense to rest, Bishop Gorman’s to exert energy, and keep Bowens and Odunze off the field.
Glancing at the score during halftime, it would look like a predictable blowout.
It wasn’t. Liberty looked good in the first half. But Bishop Gorman takes advantage of mistakes and jumped ahead.
The Patriots minimized those in the second half
Second half and overtime
Against Nevada competition this season, the Gaels scored 40 points in every game. They hadn’t given up more than seven points.
In the third quarter, Liberty not only scored a pair of touchdowns, the team kept Bishop Gorman off the board completely. With an impressive throw and catch from Britt to sophomore wide receiver Germie Bernard, the Patriots tied the game at 17. Both teams scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, with Britt running home a touchdown with under four minutes on the clock.
Bishop Gorman was content to take its time and run the clock down as it drove down the field. Liberty made another stop, forcing overtime.
Bishop Gorman got the ball first. A snap was bumbled, resulting in a loss of yards, but Liberty had a pass interference in the end zone. Bishop Gorman settled on a field goal.
It missed. After Liberty missed an easy field goal to end the first half, Bishop Gorman’s sailed left at the costliest of times.
On the second play of Liberty’s drive, Fiaseu got the handoff. He had been all over the field on both sides of the ball throughout the game, and he bolted through the line of scrimmage and into the end zone. Fiaseu ran to the sideline and crumpled to the ground in emotion.
Liberty did it.
The last time Bishop Gorman didn’t win…
The date was December 6, 2008. McQueen (Reno, Nevada) defeated Palo Verde (who had beaten Bishop Gorman two weeks prior) by a score of 13-12.
Barack Obama had just won the presidential election and was preparing to serve his first term. “Live Your Life” by T.I. ft. Rihanna was on its fourth straight week topping the billboard, and “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, which had been released a month and a half prior, was about to take the spot.
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were rookies in the NFL. Tim Tebow was a junior at Florida. Kobe Bryant was still a three-time NBA Champion and midway through the season that would net him his fourth, while LeBron James hadn’t yet left Cleveland.
Liberty’s senior class was in first grade.
Little did those six-year-olds know they would one day take down a high school dynasty.