By Nolan Ruth
The Community News
It was a game that was fought long and hard all throughout. The Aledo Bearcats battled from start to finish, but just came up short in the final minutes as the season came to an end at the hands of the Dallas South Oak Cliff Golden Bears, 33-28.
“Coach [Jason] Todd did a great job taking away our passing game early,” head coach Tim Buchanan said after suffering Aledo’s first playoff loss since 2017. “There were some things that we gave them early. You can’t give a good football team a two touchdown lead at the half.”
The Bearcats received the opening kickoff and immediately drove down field to score on a 27-yard run by Sammy Steffe. South Oak Cliff responded on the next drive with a touchdown run by Ke’Undra Hollywood. The Bearcats stalled on the next drive, and the quarter ended with the game tied at seven.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Golden Bears took the lead on a quick pass from Kevin Henry-Jennings to Jamyri Cauley. But Steffe went back to work and scored on a five-yard run to tie the game again, at 14.
However, the remaining three minutes of the first half became a nightmare for Aledo. In just four plays, South Oak Cliff took the lead back on a keeper by Henry-Jennings. Two plays later, Brayden-Fowler Nicolosi’s pass attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, giving the Golden Bears a 27-14 halftime lead.
Aledo came out of the locker room fired up. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Bearcats went into clock-control mode. A 14-play drive kept Aledo in control and they capped off the drive with a touchdown pass from Nicolosi to BJ Allen. Again, the defense forced a three-and-out. Early in the fourth quarter, Allen ran out of the wildcat formation and scored from the six to give the Bearcats a 28-27 lead.
However, South Oak Cliff didn’t back down and drove down the field bit by bit and scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Henry-Jennings to Randy Reece. Aledo started a big drive of its own, but on fourth and one deep in SOC territory, the snap was fumbled and the Golden Bears came up with it. They kneeled down two times and the game was over.
“They didn’t do anything we weren’t expecting,” Buchanan said post-game. “It just took us a while to get used to that speed. It’s hard to simulate speed like that in practice.”
For the first time since 2012, the Bearcats will not play in the regional final round, or play a game in the month of December. The season comes to an end with a record of 12-1, and an area champions title