Booker T. Washington’s No. 1 national ranking was in jeopardy on the West Coast late Friday night.
That was until Tyrone Robinson slapped the ball out of Bishop Gorman quarterback Randall Cunningham’s hands in the fourth quarter.
The key fumble was recovered by Terry Jefferson and led to a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns that lifted Booker T. Washington to a 28-12 victory over host Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.
Booker T. (6-0), ranked No. 1 in the country by every national poll, won its second out-of-state game this season. The Tornadoes opened the season by beating Norcross (Ga.) 55-0.
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The game was televised nationally as part of ESPN’s High School Football Showcase.
Senior quarterback Treon Harris threw three touchdown passes and ran for an 11-yard score following Jefferson’s fumble recovery to give Booker T. a 21-12 lead after the Gaels (4-2), ranked No. 25 nationally by MaxPreps, had cut the edge to two points in the third quarter.
Booker T.’s defense forced four turnovers including interceptions by Nigel Bethel, Brandon Boyd and James Darby. Booker T. held Cunningham, the son of the former NFL star quarterback with the same name, to only 81 yards passing.
Where Bishop Gorman had success was running the football.
Junior running back Russell Booze ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and finished with 133 yards rushing as a team.
The Gaels cut Booker T.’s lead to 14-12 in the third quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cunningham to junior tight end Alize Jones.
Jefferson’s fumble recovery with 8:35 left in the fourth swung the momentum back in Booker T.’s favor.
Bethel’s interception with 4:09 left squashed any chance of a Bishop Gorman comeback. Bethel had some fun when the ESPN cameras caught him on the sideline and took the opportunity to promote his team and Twitter account.
“It’s all about the U,” said Bethel, a University of Miami commitment. “We’re the No. 1 team in the country and we’re going to solidify that with each and every game.”
Harris put the game even further out of reach with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Parker, who finished with 65 yards on three catches. Deltron Hopkins finished with four catches for 73 yards.
Although Booker T. was satisfied with the victory, it likely suffered a tough loss in terms of personnel.
Senior defensive back Aquil Knowles suffered an ugly injury to his right foot while defending a pass with 4:50 left in the fourth. Knowles right foot twisted awkwardly as he fell and was could be seen bent as he lifted his leg following the play.
Knowles was carted off the field by ambulance after being attended to for several minutes, and was taken to a nearby hospital. Knowles’ teammates ran to the field supporting him as he was helped on to the cart by paramedics and later the ambulance.
Senior defensive Demetrius Jackson also appeared to suffer an injury in the fourth quarter.