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EIGHT IS GREAT! Bearcats upend Fort Bend Marshall, 55-19, to win school’s 8th state football championship

Aledo head coach Steve Wood proudly shows off the state championship trophy after the Bearcats' 55-19 win over Fort Bend Marshall Friday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Photo by Tony Eierdam

Aledo junior tailback Jase McClellan scored four touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards to lead the Bearcats to a 55-19 victory over the Fort Bend Marshall Buffalos Friday night in the Class 5A, Division II state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

It is Aledo’s eight state football championship in school history, the seventh in the past 10 years and the second in the last three years. The Bearcats finish the season with unblemished 16-0 record, while Fort Bend Marshall ends its season with a 15-1 mark.

The eight state titles tie Aledo with Celina, Southlake and Katy for the most championships in Texas’ 11-man football history.

McClellan was chosen by the media as the game’s Offensive MVP, while Aledo senior linebacker Wyatt Harris was selected as the contest’s Defensive MVP.

The win avenges last year’s one-point loss to College Station in the 5A, D-2 title game.

“I don’t want to minimize what last year’s team did and I don’t want to take anything away from College Station, but this has been a long year for our kids,” Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said. “I may sound selfish here, but we feel like it (state championship trophy) belongs in Aledo and we got it back.

“Our offensive line (Colby Thomas, Cameron Callaway, Logan Escamilla, Cooper Thompson, Chandler Knandel and tight end Devan Daugherty) got after it – they brought their A game – and Jase got after it. Our kids wanted this and went through a tough offseason to get back here. They are coachable and a hard-working team. We have a special group of kids in Aledo, Texas, for sure. They were on a mission.”

After suffering a defeat as starting quarterback in last year’s state title game, junior Jake Bishop now joins his brothers Matt and Luke (five combined state championships at Aledo) as a Bearcat state-champion signal caller.

“We feel we did not perform at our best last year (in the state championship game), and we wanted to come out tonight and take what is ours,” Bishop said. “I did not sleep very good at all last night because I was so excited to play this game.

“We won, and it feels awesome. The key was just us coming out and playing our game. The offensive line paved the way for me and Jase. This win is awesome for our team, the coaches and the community. I have grown up here, and now I can join my brothers (as a state champion quarterback).”

The Bearcats scored four touchdowns on their five first-half possessions, with McClellan having a hand in each score. He rushed for 111 yards on 16 carries in the opening half.

Aledo – after forcing a Marshall punt on the Buffalos’ opening possession – drew first blood midway through the opening period when McClellan raced untouched 42 yards down the right sideline to cap a quick three-play, 47-yard drive.

Harper Smith booted the extra point to give the Bearcats a 7-0 lead.

On Marshall’s next possession, the Bearcats again forced a punt, but the punt rolled dead at the Aledo 1-yard line. On first down, McClellan was hit hard by MHS linebacker Jerrell Mayweather and fumbled, and the ball was recovered in the end zone by defensive lineman Frank Miller for a touchdown.

But with 6:35 remaining in the first period Marshall kicker Angel Martinez missed the extra point as Aledo held on to a 7-6 lead.

On Aledo’s ensuing drive, McClellan made up for his miscue. Carrying the ball on four of the first six plays in the drive – on runs of 6, 5, 6 and 14 yards – McClellan advanced the ball to the Marshall 6. On the next play, McClellan blasted off right tackle, broke a tackle and dragged another Bufs’ defender into the end zone to complete a six-yard touchdown run with 3:42 left in the opening period.

Smith booted the extra point to increase the Aledo advantage to 14-6.

After each team traded punts, Marshall put together a six-play, 77-yard drive that ended on a 4-yard quarterback keeper by Malik Hornsby for a touchdown with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter. The Bufs went for a two-point conversion after the TD, but the run failed as the Bearcats held a two-point advantage, 14-12.

The Bearcats played keep away on offense for the rest of the half. Aledo added to their lead when McClellan scored his third rushing TD of the half on a two-yard blast off right tackle with 7:22 remaining in the half.

Smith added the PAT to extend the lead to 21-12.

Aledo forced Marshall to punt on the Bufs’ next drive, and followed with a nine-play,71-yard drive concluded by a screen pass from Bishop to McClellan that covered 22 yards for a touchdown with 2:00 left in the half.

The Bearcats mixed it up on the drive, with Bishop completing passes to Tripp Jones (eight yards) and Mylen Hayhurst (four yards) and with an 11-yard sweep by receiver Jo Jo Earle.

Smith added the PAT as the Bearcats led 28-12, where it remained at the half.

The Bearcats demoralized the Buffalos to begin the third quarter, putting together a 10-play drive – all but two running plays – that covered 69 yards which ended on a three-yard run off left tackle by Tre Owens.

There were two big plays in the drive including a 16-yard gain on a pass from Bishop to Earle, and a 24-yard run off left tackle by McClellan.

Smith’s PAT increased the lead to 35-12.

Clearly rattled, the Buffalos lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff as Reagan Rice recovered the miscue at the Marshall 21.

Three plays later on third and seven, a scrambling Bishop lofted a pass to the end zone where tight end Devan Daugherty leaped to make a touchdown catch that put the game away with 5:23 left in the third period.

Smith’s PAT increased the lead to 42-12.

A fumble recovery by Will Greenwood on Marshall’s next possession set up another Aledo touchdown.

Bishop did the honors on an eight-play, 36-yard drive with a 22-yard keeper down the right sideline where he sprinted untouched into the end zone.

The PAT failed as Aledo took a 48-12 lead into the fourth quarter.

Each team found the end zone once in the fourth quarter. Aledo extended its lead to 55-12 after a 27-yard touchdown pass from Bishop to Earle, with Micco Little booting the extra point.

The Buffalos closed the scoring with 3:49 left to play on a 49-yard TD pass from Hornsby to Devon Achane, with Martinez adding the PAT for a final score of 55-19.

Wood pointed to his defense – which held the dangerous Achane to a season-low 95 yards and held the Buffalos offense to just 269 yards – as a huge ingredient in the win.

“I am so proud of our defense,” Wood said. “Our first-team defense only gave up six points against a pretty explosive football team. We have had injuries on defense, but it is next man up here and the kids just bowed up.”

Bishop completed 14 of 17 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Earle led all receivers with six catches for 79 yards and a score.

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