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(Video by Dominic Genetti)
Paced by junior running back Johnathan Gray's 248 yards rushing and four touchdowns, the state-ranked No. 1 Aledo Bearcats had little trouble in a 66-9 victory over Trophy Club Byron Nelson Friday night in a District 5-4A contest at Northwest ISD Stadium.
The win raises the No. 1 Bearcats overall mark to 6-0, and 3-0 in 5-4A. Aledo will continue district play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at home against Boswell.
The Bearcats rolled up 522 yards against the first-year varsity program, rushing for 348 yards and passing for 174. Gray scored three of his four touchdown in the first half, reaching the end zone on rushes of two, six and 67 yards.
Junior quarterback Matt Bishop also had a solid outing, connecting on seven of eight first-half passes with three touchdown tosses. He finished by completing 10 of 11 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Bishop also rushed for a touchdown. Junior Michael Mann led all Aledo receivers with four catches for 46 yards and a score.
The Bearcats led 34-2 after the first quarter. Aledo found the end zone just five plays into the game when Bishop scrambled for 12 yards after faking a pass to Mann. Kevin Frantz booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
A Nelson turnover two plays later turned into six for the Bearcats. After quarterback Andrew Mitchell completed a pass to Nelson receiver Ryan Lexa, Lexa was hit hard and fumbled the ball, and AHS senior Rylan Riney alertly scooped up the loose pigskin and sprinted 25 yards to the end zone. Freshman Chance Nevarez kicked the extra point for a 14-0 lead.
Aledo needed just three plays to reach the end zone on their next possession. The short drive was set up by a fumble recovery by senior linebacker Rob Blowers on the Nelson 22. Gray capped the drive with a walk-in touchdown of two yards on the right side between guard Frantz and tackle Latham Johnson. Garrett Ellis tacked on the PAT for a 21-0 advantage.
A fumble recovery on the Nelson 35 by senior Cameron Cunningham on the Bobcats' ensuing possession set up another Aledo score. Four plays later, Gray blasted over the goal line from six yards out, but the PAT was blocked and Nelson scooped up the ball and ran the length of the field to get credit for the two points as Aledo led 27-2.
On Nelson's next drive, Riney intercepted his first pass of the season, and his 25-yard return set the Bearcats up at the hosts' 35. Three plays later, Bishop lofted a pass to the back of the end zone where junior receiver Todd Christian made a leaping catch while also getting a foot down just in front of the end line for a touchdown. Frantz booted the extra point for a 34-2 lead.
Aledo extended its lead in the second quarter when Mann outran his single pursuer and caught a Bishop pass in stride in the middle of the field to complete a 25-yard pass play. Nevarez booted the extra point as Aledo led 41-2 with 8:44 left in the opening half.
Nelson came back and used 12 plays to march 88 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell ended the long drive with a 17-yard pass to receiver Shawn Brown to cut the lead to 41-9.
It took the Bearcats just one play to match the score. With a first down from the AHS 33, Gray took a pitch from Bishop and out-raced five defenders down the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown. The snap on the ensuing PAT was bobbled, but holder Sean O'Donnell picked up the loose ball, rolled to his right and hit tight end Justin Breshears in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion and a 49-9 lead.
Nelson fumbled the ball away to the Bearcats on its second play of its next possession as linebacker Jace Vincent came up with the ball with 1:40 left in the half. The Aledo drive stalled after four plays, but Nevarez kicked his first varsity field goal with a boot that was true from 35 yards out as time expired as the Bearcats took a 52-9 lead into the locker room at the half.
On the Bearcats' first possession of the third quarter, Gray bolted through a huge hole off right tackle and sprinted 72 yards to paydirt. Senior kicker Tanner Linn added the extra point to extend the Bearcats' lead to 59-9.
Aledo closed the scoring in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Clay Wooten fired a seven-yard TD pass to junior receiver Preston Bartley, with Nevarez adding the extra point.
For the complete story, and for comments by head coach Tim Buchanan and the players, please see the Oct. 15 issue of The Community News.