Aledo jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back as the state-ranked No. 2 Bearcats ran past No. 15 Colleyville Heritage, 38-21, Friday night in the season opener for both teams at Bearcat Stadium.
The win was also the first for Bearcats sophomore quarterback Jake Bishop, the last of the three Bishops brothers. Jake’s brothers Matt and Luke combined to win five state championships at Aledo.
“I was nervous about the game but I wasn’t nervous about Jake,” Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said. “This was a huge game – absolutely huge – and that’s (Heritage) a good football team. I am proud of the kids, and I am proud of the way they prepared and came to play.
“We had a lot of young kids out there, and they will grow up, and they grew up some tonight.”
Wood praised the Bearcats’ defense, which did not allow a touchdown until late in the third quarter.
“I thought we got after it on defense,” Wood said. “We covered well, and we put some pressure on their quarterbacks. We never sacked the quarterback, but I did like the pressure we put on them. I thought we covered very good in the first half, and we tackled well.”
The defending state-champion Bearcats scored on their first possession of the third quarter to stretch their lead to 24-0. The drive saw sophomore tailback Jase McClellan carry four times for 18 yards before he left the game with was believed to be a wrist injury. He finished with 140 yards for the game. Bishop also carried four times in the drive, gaining 47 yards which included gains of 24 and 11 yards.
The nine-play, 72-yard drive ended on a seven-yard run by tailback Tre Owens. Daniels was true on the PAT to give Aledo a 24-0 lead with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Heritage’s next drive ended on a fumble recovery by senior defensive back Jake Mclendon, who would also grab an interception later in the contest. Mclendon’s pick would lead to a Bearcats’ touchdown as Owens scored again, this time from 32 yards after a crushing block by receiver Hunter Rosson.
With 7:23 left in the third period, Daniels added the point after to increase the Aledo lead to 31-7.
Heritage scored two TDs late in the game, but in between the Bearcats reached the end zone again. Reserve quarterback Jake Norwood scrambled 26 yards to the end zone to close the scoring for the hosts.
“This was a big, big win,” Wood said. “I am not going to lie to you, I have not been sleeping very good this week. I was a little nervous, and I am going to enjoy this win.”
It was all Aledo – particularly McClellan – in the opening half.
The sophomore tailback scored both touchdowns in the first half while carrying the ball 14 times for 17 yards.
The Bearcats piled up 173 total yards in the first half, 129 on the ground. Aledo held Heritage to just 80 first-half yards.
Aledo scored the first time it touched the ball. McClellan closed out an 8-play, 55-yard drive on an 11-yard sprint to pay dirt on fourth and one. On the play, McClellan took a handoff from Bishop, cut to his left through a huge hole and ran untouched to the end zone with 8:10 left in the first quarter.
It was a drive that consumed almost four minutes as McClellan and Bishop accounted for all of the yards on the ground. Cole Daniels booted the extra point as Aledo took a quick 7-0 lead.
Heritage, which used three quarterbacks in the opening half, crossed the 50-yard line on its first possession after quarterback Drew Sanders connected with receiver Kam Brown on a 13-yard strike. But on the next play, Sanders was hit hard, fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Bearcats’ safety Wyatt Harris.
The Bearcats added a 32-yard field goal by Daniels for a 10-0 lead with 9:31 left in the second quarter. The big play in the drive was a 33-yard gain by McClellan.
The Panthers never could get their offense going and punted on their last three drives of the half.
With 7:40 remaining in the second quarter, the Bearcats reached the end zone on their longest march of the half. Starting from his 37-yard line, Bishop found Rosson with a 9-yard strike to begin the drive, McClellan carried for nine yards and Bishop for four yards to move the chains.
On the next play, Money Parks carried for 11 yards as the Bearcats crossed mid field. Bishop followed with a gain of six yards on a draw play for a first down as Aledo methodically moved the ball down field.
Heritage’s defense then stiffened as Bishop and the Bearcats faced a third and 14 from the Heritage 43. However, Heritage could not stop the sophomore gunslinger as Bishop found Rosson for 18 yards and a first down to the Panthers’ 25.
McClellan carried it in from there. On first down, “The Horse” scampered for seven yards to the HHS 18. On the next play, McClellan took a handoff and disappeared in a pile, but he spun out of the pack and rambled untouched for 18 yards to the end zone to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive.
With 2:36 left in the half, Daniels’ PAT kick extended the Bearcats’ lead to 17-0, where it remained at the half.