Aledo came back from a 21-7 deficit with three unanswered touchdowns to come away with a 28-21 victory over the Mansfield Legacy Broncos Saturday afternoon in a Class 5A, Division II state semifinal football game at Pennington Field.
The No. 1 Bearcats will advance to the state championship game and face College Station.
“Other than two big plays Legacy had (one on a kickoff return and another on a field goal return), I thought we played great defense, especially in the second half,” Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said of an Aledo defensive effort that did not allow a Legacy first down for the entire second half. Legacy gained just 25 total yards in the second half. “Our kids competed their tails off.
“Mansfield Legacy is a very good football team, and they took advantage of special teams’ play. Those guys (Legacy) were battling, too, and there was nothing easy about this win. Jase decided to take control of the game, and his (third) touchdown was big.”
With the game tied, 21-21, Aledo took over at their own 44 with 2:24 remaining in the contest. On second and 10, tailback Jase McClellan broke a 10-yard run off right tackle to move the chains to the Legacy 46.
On the next play, McClellan took a hand off up the middle, broke four tackles in the secondary and with a spin move cut to the middle and “The Horse” was of to the races. Forty-six yards later, McClellan crossed the goal line, and with 1:48 left to play, Cole Daniels booted the extra point to give the Bearcats a 28-21 lead.
Legacy, with one drive left to attempt to tie the game, threw consecutive incomplete passes and quarterback Jalen Catalon gained two yards on third down. Facing fourth and 8 from its own 13, Aledo defensive end Colt Ellison ended Legacy’s season with a sack as the ball went over on downs to Aledo.
Bearcats quarterback Jake Bishop took a knee on three consecutive downs to run out the clock and send the Bearcats to its fourth state championship game appearance in five years.
The Class 5A, Division II state championship game will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Aledo tied the game, 21-21, on a 29-yard keeper by Bishop, who zig-zagged through the Legacy defense with 9:14 left in the third quarter. Daniels added the PAT to knot the score.
On its next drive, Legacy marched the ball to the Aledo 4 but faced fourth and one. Legacy went to its power back, Enoch Jackson – a defensive tackle but a back in goal line offense – and the 290-pounder was stopped for no gain as Aledo regained possession at its own 4.
Each team forced the other to punt on four consecutive series before Aledo’s game-winning touchdown drive.
The Bearcats finished with 396 total yards, including 332 on the ground. McClellan carried 30 times for a game-high 209 yards, and Bishop added 107 yards on 17 totes. Bishop completed three of nine passes for 62 yards, with Beau Mask leading AHS receivers with two catches for 46 yards.
On the game’s opening drive the Bearcats marched down the field on the legs of McClellan, who gained 39 yards on six carries before the drive stalled at the Legacy 29. Daniels’ 47-yard attempt fell short, but Catalon, who had set up deep in the end zone, took the kick almost raced the distance of the field down the right sidelined before he was shoved out of bounds at the Aledo 2.
Two plays later, Jackson took a direct snap and bullied over the goal line for a touchdown. Jake Smith added the extra point as Legacy led 7-0.
The Bearcats responded on their ensuing possession. McClellan rushed three times for 45 yards, including a 30-yard sprint, to bring the ball to the Legacy 4. On the next play, McClellan rambled off right tackle for four yards and a touchdown, and with 4:59 remaining in the opening period, Daniels’ PAT tied the score, 7-7.
After forcing Legacy to punt – the Broncos gained negative-4 yards in three plays – Aledo put together a nine-play drive that stalled at the Legacy 13. But Aledo kicking-game woes continued as Daniels’ 30-yard attempt was blocked, and Legacy took over at its own 14.
It took one play for the Broncos to regain the lead. Catalon took a snap on first down and raced down the left sideline past four defenders, cut to the middle at the Aledo 30 and sprinted across the goal line for a stunning 86-yard touchdown.
With 9:29 left in the second quarter, Smith added the PAT as Legacy took a 14-7 lead.
Kicking-game frustration continued to plague the Bearcats on Aledo’s next series. After being stopped on three plays, the ‘Cats were forced to punt. But the snap was high and Daniels, also the punter, understandably bobbled the snap, got a kick off but it was blocked as Legacy took possession at the Aledo 36.
It took just two plays for Legacy to reach the end zone. On second and 10, Catalon fired a pass down the middle and into the end zone where diving receiver Ife Adeyl cradled the pass for the score with 6:20 left in the half.
Smith tacked on the extra point as Legacy’s lead grew to 21-7.
Taking advantage of a 55-yard kickoff return by Tre Owens, the Bearcats set up shop on their ensuing possession at the Legacy 32. Bishop called his own number on the first two plays of the drive, gaining nine and 15 yards to the Broncos’ 17.
Faced with a third and one from the Legacy 8, Bishop kept for a tough three yards and a first down at the LHS 5. Two runs by McClellan, the latter for a yard, and the Bearcats hit pay dirt. Daniels added the PAT, and with 3:27 left in the second quarter, Aledo cut Legacy’s lead to 21-14, where it remained at the half.
McClellan was a workhorse in the first half, gaining 108 yards on 18 carries with both TDs. The Bearcats rushed for 173 yards and finished the first half with 235 total yards. Legacy had 119 total yards in the opening half.