In a knock-down, drag-out defensive high school football game, the state-ranked No. 1 Aledo Bearcats scored 17 second-half points to outdistance No. 10 Mansfield Legacy and take a 24-7 victory Friday night at Bearcat Stadium in the final non-district game of the year for both teams.
The win raises the Bearcats’ record to 3-0. Aledo will be off next week and will begin District 6-5A play at home against Chisholm Trail on Sept. 29.
The Bearcats’ defense put in its most dominant effort of the young season. The Bearcat Black Shirts held the potent Broncos’ offense to just 127 total yards, and a mere 36 yards in the second half.
“Legacy is talented, but we rose to the occasion,” Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said. “I thought we even came out more hungry in the second half and shut them down. This is how football is supposed to be played.
“We had some huge interceptions, and I thought we played well on kickoff coverage on special teams. This win should help our confidence. It was 7-3 at halftime but we came out and snuffed them, and our offense got on track and got the ball to the end zone a couple of more times.
“This was a big win, and now we can look forward to district play.”
Leading by a slim 7-3, Aledo’s defense forced Legacy to punt on consecutive three and outs to begin the second half.
From that point, sophomore quarterback Jake Bishop took over. He engineered a six-play, 57=yard drive that ended when Bishop called his own number and scored on a quarterback draw from 15 yards out. The sophomore completed three passes in the drive including an 18-yarder to Money Parks; an eight-yard bullet to Hayden Hyles; and an 18-yard strike to Colt Ellison – also a starting defensive end – that brought the ball to the Legacy 16.
Bishop scored on a counter draw two plays later, and Cole Daniels kicked the extra point to give the Bearcats a 14-3 lead with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Legacy earned a first down on its next drive, but three plays later were forced to punt again.
Bishop burned up nearly six minutes of the clock on Aledo’s ensuing possession, which ended with a 22-yard field goal by Daniels with 8:02 left in the fourth period. The big play in the drive came on third and 19 from the Legacy 40 when Bishop completed a 20-yard pass to Jay Miller for a first down. Bishop used his shifty feet to get out of trouble, and after seemingly scrambling for 10 seconds, found the late-opening Miller for a key first down that eventually led to the field goal that extended the lead to 17-3.
The Bearcats put the game away when Wyatt Harris intercepted a pass that led to a Bishop touchdown pass to Money Parks to complete a four-yard touchdown play. Daniels’ increased the lead to 24-7.
A fumble recovery by Jake Mclendon sealed the win for the Bearcats.
“This win does a lot for our confidence,” Bishop said. “Legacy has the best defense we have seen this year. But hey, our defense played lights out, and it was fun to watch.”
The first half was dominated by the two defenses. The Bearcats held Legacy to just 91 total yards, while the Broncos held the Bearcats to 134 total yards.
But it did not look like it would be a struggle for Aledo’s offense early in the contest.
On the game’s first drive, the Bearcats put together an 11-play, 79-yard drive that consumed almost five minutes off the clock. Tre Owens carried the ball eight times in the drive, scoring on a one-yard run off left tackle where he strolled into the end zone untouched.
Bishop completed two passes in the drive, the first to Hunter Rosson for 18 yards, and the second to Money Parks for 28 yards that moved the pigskin to the Legacy 5-yard line.
Owens scored two plays later. Cole Daniels booted the extra point, and with 7:27 left in the opening quarter Aledo led 7-0.
The Bearcats Black Shirts forced Legacy to punt on its first possession, but the next time the Broncos touched the ball running back Grant Johnson – who played linebacker against Aledo last year – shouldered the load.
He carried the ball on three consecutive plays, gaining 32 yards. However, the drive stalled, and with 43 seconds left in the opening period Legacy placekicker Ife Adeyi kicked a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Aledo defense stayed aggressive and forced Legacy to punt on its following two possessions. It appeared the ‘Cats had stopped the Broncos late in the half as Legacy dropped back to punt. But Adeyi instead took off down the right side for an eight-yard gain, earning a first down by one yard.
On third and 10 from the Aledo 42, Aledo junior defensive end Colt Ellison recorded his second sack of the game, bringing down quarterback Cam Clark for a 12-yard loss.
With one second and one play left in the half, Johnson was stopped for no gain on a draw as the Bearcats led 7-3 at the break.