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By Tony Eierdam
For the first time in 49 games, the Lake Travis Cavaliers can now put a mark in the loss column thanks to the Aledo Bearcats.
The Bearcats, who can now lay claim as the best team in Class 4A, defeated the Div. I, 4A Champions 14-10 Friday night with the support of an Aledo crowd that filled up the entire visitor's side - with the addition of three sets of portable bleachers - at Lake Travis High School's Cavalier Stadium.
The Bearcats took the lead for good in the fourth quarter when Johnathan Gray scored from a yard out on 4th and goal with six minutes remaining in the contest.
Gray was the workhorse on the game winning touchdown drive, carrying the ball for the last eight plays in covering 22 yards.
But the final blow to Lake Travis' hopes of a 49th straight win came on a crucial second and nine play from the Aledo 40 as the Bearcats were trying to run out the clock as they held onto their slim four-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the contest.
On a misdirection play, Gray went to the left, influencing the Lake Travis defense. However, quarterback Matt Bishop instead handed the ball to Rob Blowers, who took off through a huge hole to the right and sprinted into the Cavs' secondary before being tackled at the Lake Travis 11.
The Bearcats took a knee on the final two plays as the clock would down and the celebration began on the overflowed visitors' side.
Gray finished with 150 yards on 31 carries on the rain-soaked grass field.
"Our kids played hard, especially our defense," Bearcats head coach Tim Buchanan said. "To hold these guys to 10 points, even without Brewer, is a big deal.
"Coach (Steve) Wood called for more blitzes in the second half to put pressure on the quarterback, and the defense made some things happen."
Lake Travis, playing without all-state quarterback Michael Brewer, who was injured in last week's game against Pflugerville Hendrickson, took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal.
The Cavaliers' lead grew to 10-0 when quarterback Collin Lagasse connected with receiver Griffin Gilbert on a nine-yard fade pattern with 4:20 left in the half.
Down 10-0, the Bearcats followed with their first touchdown drive and cut the lead to 10-7 before the half when quarterback Matt Bishop threw a 24-yard pass down the middle to receiver Todd Christian.
The speedy Christian caught the ball in stride at about the 15-yard line, slipped a tackle and outran four defenders before diving across the goal line with 1:36 left in the half to complete an 8-play, 58-yard drive. Garrett Ellis booted the extra point to cut the lead to three.
The winning drive began with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter at the Lake Travis 40. Bishop was sacked on first down, but on the next play threw a 13-yard completion to receiver Michael Mann to set up a third and three from the LT 33.
Gray then took the ball on the first of eight consecutive rushes, gaining 11 yards down the left side for a first down.
Gray followed with runs of 4, 5, and 9 yards to set the Bearcats up with a first and goal from the LT 4.
Gray ran for two yards on first down, was stopped for no gain on second down, and on third down hit a wall of Cavs' defenders for a one-yard gain.
On fourth and goal from the one, Gray took a hand off off right tackle and appeared to have been stopped.
But the all-state running back kept his feet churning, and pushed the pile of Cavs' defenders back into the end zone where he bullied his way over goal line for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
For the complete story, and for more comments from Coach Buchanan and the Bearcats, please see the Sept. 17 issue of The Community News.