Aledo wins third straight title as Gray breaks touchdown record

Posted Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Aledo running back Johnathan Gray wanted to win another state championship.

He also wanted the national record for career touchdowns.

Gray and his Bearcats teammates left Cowboys Stadium on Saturday with both.

Gray ran for one TD to pass Mike Hart (Onondaga, N.Y.) for first in the national record book with 205 career TDs, as Aledo (14-2) defeated Manvel 49-28 to win a third straight 4A Division II state championship in front of 43,369 fans.

Aledo led 28-7 at halftime, but Manvel (15-1) didn't give in. The Mavericks, in just their fourth varsity season, twice cut Aledo's lead to one score.

Gray's lone TD, a 37-yard run with 6:49 left in the fourth quarter, gave him the record. More importantly, it gave the Bearcats a 42-28 lead.

"If Johnathan had broken that record, but we had lost the game, he would have been the most disappointed kid out there," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said.

Manvel's tough defense kept Gray, who rushed for 241 yards on 30 carries, out of the end zone longer than any other team this season. No other opponent had shut Gray out in the first half, and only Lake Travis kept him from scoring in the first quarter.

"The team looked at it and said: 'Hey, we've got to get you in the end zone,'" Gray said. "It means a lot. It means our team worked that much harder than any other team. You can't do it without your offensive line and teammates. To break that record is just a team effort."

As Manvel's defense keyed on Gray, Aledo QB Matthew Bishop ran wild. Bishop, who was named offensive MVP of the game, completed 14 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three TDs. He also ran for two scores against a hard-hitting Manvel front.

"That was a complete defense out there," Buchanan said. "We had to grind for everything we got. They didn't give us anything."

In last year's championship game against LaMarque, Aledo turned a 35-27 halftime lead into a 69-34 win. But Manvel didn't roll over.

"We started to ease up. We were up by three TDs, and we thought they were just going to give it to us," Aledo defensive end Jaylen Hill said. "We had to come back and kick it into gear again."

Two of Bishop's TD passes came on identical plays. Twice, Bishop faked a handoff to Gray, rolled out and hit Parker Bradham for a score. Bishop's biggest play came on a 5-yard, fourth-down TD run. Manvel had scored twice to start the third quarter. Bishop promptly put Aledo back up two scores.

"People thought JGray was going to get the ball. When he ran left, everyone went with him and I just snuck through the middle," Bishop said. "We needed it right then, and I'm glad I could do it."

Manvel's all-out effort to stop Gray was necessary, though.

"If they didn't do what they did, JGray would have run for about 500," Bishop said. "So I think it was pretty smart on their part."

The Bearcats also made big plays on defense. Hill, who was the defensive MVP, finished with seven tackles, two for loss, with 1 1/2 sacks, and cornerback Todd Christian returned an interception 70 yards for a second-quarter TD.

Manvel had just intercepted an Aledo pass, but Christian flipped the momentum back to the Bearcats.

"Our crowd was just dead, and I could feel it," Christian said. "I knew I had to come back and make a play."

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @bshirley08

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