Aledo found the end zone on all five drives in the first half to put the game away early as the Bearcats easily handled the Cleburne Yellow Jackets, 45-0, Friday night in a District 5-5A, Division II contest at Bearcat Stadium.
The win – the No. 1 Bearcats’ ongoing state record 88th consecutive district victory – keeps Aledo in first place in 5-5A with a sparkling 5-0 mark, while Cleburne’s league record drops to 2-3.
“I like the way we started fast,” Bearcats head coach Tim Buchanan said. “Our kids did a good job, and I am proud of them for getting better week by week. Our defense did a great job of containing the quarterback, and the coaches had a good game plan and our kids did a good job of working the plan.
“The offense set the tone by scoring on the first drive. We didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter, and that’s pretty good. The offensive line played extremely well, and they adjusted well to their ‘bear crawl’ style of blocking.
“The O-line allowed us to pop some big runs, and they protected the quarterback when we threw the ball.”
The Bearcats needed just four running plays to find the end zone on the first drive of the game. Jo Jo Earle carried three times in the 52-yard drive, the last on a nine-yard run with the path cleared by a crunching block from Demarco Roberts.
Micco Little booted the extra point, and with 11:02 left in the opening period the Bearcats took a quick 7-0 lead.
It did not take long for the Bearcats to find the end zone again.
After the Bearcats defense forced a Cleburne punt on the Yellow Jackets first series, a succession of three big plays led the Bearcats to the end zone again. On a designed draw play, quarterback Jake Bishop scooted for 18 yards before completing a pass on the next play to Jaeden Pellegrino for 20 yards to the Cleburne 11.
On the ensuing snap, Roberts sprinted 11 yards to pay dirt, and with 7:35 remaining Aledo extended its lead to 14-0 after Little’s extra-point kick.
The Bearcats defense forced another punt on Cleburne’s next series. The third-down play that forced the punt was a sack by defensive end Caden Anderson.
Aledo followed with an 8-play, 63-yard drive that ended on a 37-yard pass from Bishop to Earle. On the play, Earle caught the pass in stride and juked a defender at the 5-yard line and waltzed into the end zone with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
Little’s PAT boosted the lead to 21-0.
Cleburne came back and drove the ball on 12 plays to the AHS 20. The ‘Jackets converted three third downs on the drive, but faced a fourth and 10. Trying to get on the scoreboard, Cleburne lined up for a field goal.
But the points would not come. Roberts flew in and blocked the 37-yard attempt and the Bearcats took over on offense on their own 31.
On the first play of Aledo’s next drive, Bishop completed a 33-yard pass to Money Parks to begin a 7-play scoring drive that was closed on a 4-yard TD run by Roberts with 7:01 remining in the opening half.
Little added the PAT to increase the lead to 28-0.
On the ‘Jackets ensuing series, the Bearcats’ defense forced Cleburne out on downs after 12 plays had brought the ballot the AHS 23. The last two plays were incomplete passes as the ‘Cats took over on offense at their own 23.
With just 2:03 left in the half, Bishop came out firing. He completed an 11-yard pass to Roberts on a screen and followed with a 5-yard completion to Little. Bishop followed with consecutive complete passes to Pellegrino, the first for nine yards and the second for 17 that moved the pigskin to the visitors’ 35.
However, an AHS penalty moved the ball to the 50-yard line, leaving the Bearcats in a first and 25 situation. Bishop decided to end the drive on the next play, throwing a towering pass to Parks, who easily beat coverage while catching the pass in stride before crossing the goal line with 51 seconds left in the half.
“Cleburne had the right coverage on,” Buchanan said. “Jake just threw it perfectly and Money went up and caught it. We have a pretty good quarterback and some pretty good receivers.”
Little added the PAT to extend the Bearcats’ lead to 35-0, where it remained at the half.
Bishop completed 14 of 16 passes for 225 yards in the first half. Parks had five catches for 106 yards, while Pellegrino added five catches for 55 yards. Earle had two catches for 48 yards. The Bearcats finished the first half with 315 total yards.
Cleburne received the second-half kickoff and on third down and 13 completed a 47-yard pass. But after the catch Roberts forced and recovered a fumble to end the scoring opportunity.
Aledo turned the lost fumble into a 7-play scoring drive that was aided by a CHS pass interference penalty. On the last play of the drive, tailback Jeremiah James blasted through a huge hole off right tackle and into the end zone to complete a three-yard TD run with 8:13 left in the third quarter.
Little’s kick gave the Bearcats a 42-0 advantage.
Once again, the Bearcats defense forced another punt, and it led to a 26-yard field goal by Little that increased the Aledo lead to 45-0 with 2:36 remaining in the third period.
There was no scoring in the fourth quarter.