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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Antolin caps Gorman's run to title

Senior's three TDs, 203 yards rushing help beat McQueen for 4A state crown

Injuries have limited Bishop Gorman running back Keola Antolin's playing time in the postseason and kept him from showing all he could do.

But McQueen saw the full force of Antolin on Saturday.

The senior rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Gaels to a 38-17 win over the Lancers to capture the Class 4A state football championship at Sam Boyd Stadium.

"Keola did a great job running the football for us," senior quarterback Dylan Barrera said. "He created things that weren't there, and he just made plays. He's a playmaker, and he just did a great job."

Antolin had two first-half touchdown runs to help the Gaels (14-0) jump to a 23-0 lead, but his biggest carries might have come early in the fourth quarter after McQueen (13-2) had cut the lead to 23-17.

On Gorman's first offensive play of the fourth quarter, Antolin broke a 30-yard run, dragging tacklers the final 5 yards, to move the ball to the Lancers 30-yard line.

Two plays later, he took a lateral from Barrera and sprinted 27 yards for a TD to give the Gaels some cushion.

"I always love to watch Keola work," senior cornerback Josh Jordan said of Antolin, who is listed at 5 feet 9 inches. "It's just something special when you see Keola running down the field breaking tackles, because he's nothing but yay high. He's little, but he's always running and has got the biggest heart."

After Antolin's final TD gave the Gaels some breathing room, sophomore linebacker Evan Palelei scooped up a fumble at the Gorman 14 and raced 86 yards for a touchdown to put the game away.

It was Gorman's second defensive score.

"When you can take the ball away and score points on it, it's awful big," Gorman coach Bob Altshuler said. "We flow to the ball, we run to the ball and we communicate on defense."

The defense helped set the tone early, dominating against a strong McQueen rushing attack. The Lancers finished with 212 rushing yards, just below their season average of 223, but found things extremely difficult in the first quarter.

McQueen had minus-1 yard on its first two possessions and finished with 11 carries for 24 yards in the first quarter as the Gaels took a 10-0 lead.

"Our defensive line, they were monsters up there," Jordan said. "They were just wreaking havoc and creating plays."

So was Antolin, who sprinted for a 90-yard TD run with 9:18 to go in the second quarter as Gorman made the score 17-0.

"It was a big hole -- a very big hole," Antolin said. "I've got to give it to my offensive linemen. Without them, I couldn't score."

On the first play after Antolin's long run, Jordan intercepted a Connor Brant pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown and a 23-0 lead.

"I just jumped it, and it was off to the races after that," Jordan said. "It was beautiful. I've wanted (to do) that all year, and it couldn't have come at a better time than in the state championship."

Brant's 2-yard scoring run with 1:31 to go in the first half gave McQueen its first points, and the Lancers added an 8-yard TD run by Styker Ngongoseke and a 32-yard field goal by Anthony Martinez to cut the lead to 23-17. But it turned out to be too little, too late.

"I really thought that they dominated the first half in many aspects of what they did," McQueen coach Ken Dalton said. "We didn't play our game, and we're a little disappointed for that."

Gorman did play its game in winning the school's first state football championship since 1983.

"Words can't even describe it," Barrera said. "We put so much hard work and effort into it, and these guys deserve everything they worked hard for all season."

And what does it mean for Altshuler, who won the championship in his first year as coach?

"It means I've got a job next year," he said.

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