Barrera had completed only 2 of 7 passes for 8 yards in the first 45 minutes, was sacked three times and fumbled a snap at the end of the first half, costing the Gaels a shot at a field goal.
But the senior more than made up for it, completing his final seven passes, including a 2-yard touchdown to Kamana Kaimikaua with 23 seconds remaining, to lift the Gaels to a 24-20 victory over visiting Palo Verde for the Sunset Region title.
"They were bringing a lot of pressure and it was hard to get out of the pocket," Barrera said. "Some of those throws in the beginning I just couldn't connect, but I adjusted and my coaches had faith in me and I just had confidence. My teammates needed me, and I was ready to come back for them."
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Gorman (13-0) will play McQueen (13-1) in the Class 4A state title game at noon Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Palo Verde finished 12-1.
Trailing 20-17 with 3:03 to play, the Gaels got the ball back at their 30. The drive didn't start well, as Barrera threw two incompletions. But then he hit Kaimikaua for 14 yards for a first down, and found his rhythm from there.
"He was a little off earlier, and then all of a sudden he picked it up," Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said.
One of the biggest plays came on first-and-15 from the Palo Verde 38. The Panthers pressured Barrera, but he scrambled to avoid the sack and heaved the ball down the right sideline, where Joe Huber made a diving catch at the 17.
Kaimikaua made a leaping, 14-yard catch to move the ball inside the 5, and three plays later, Barrera hit Kaimikaua in the front of the end zone with the game winner.
"We've been working on the two-minute drive the whole time in practice, and it just paid off," said Kaimikaua, who had five catches for 91 yards and two TDs. "I was in the right place at the right time."