MANSFIELD -- Aledo's drive for a fourth consecutive Class 4A state championship started off with a big statement.
Moving into Division I this season, after winning three titles in Division II, did little to deter the Bearcats, who kicked off the playoffs with a 45-7 victory over Cleburne in a bi-district playoff game Friday at Newsom Stadium.
Aledo (10-1) will face Denton Guyer (9-2) in the area round at 2 p.m. Nov. 24 at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin.
Cleburne (7-4) was unable to get its offense on track against the solid Bearcats defense, which forced five turnovers in the first half for a 31-0 lead.
Aledo opened the game with a 62-yard drive in 11 plays but settled for a 31-yard Chance Nevarez field goal.
The teams traded punts before Aledo found its rhythm and scored on its next four possessions.
The first of Brock Parker's two interceptions in the first half set up a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Pate Davis. Then a short Cleburne punt led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Jess Anders that put Aledo up 17-0 with 5:05 left in the half.
Two more interceptions resulted in two more Aledo scores. Jordan Mittie picked off a Cleburne pass at the Yellow Jackets' 32 and returned it to the 12. After a procedure penalty, Davis hit Taco Anderson for a 16-yard gain to the 1. Anders carried it in.
Aaron Hinsley capped the first-half scoring by returning an interception 11 yards for a score. The Bearcats held Cleburne to 54 yards of total offense in the first half, including minus-19 rushing.
Hinsley opened the second half by blocking a Cleburne punt to set up the first of two touchdowns by Caleb Frysinger, who scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards.
Davis led Aledo with 108 yards rushing, and he threw for 107 yards. Anders gained 87 yards rushing and Willie Gibson caught four passes for 74 yards.
Cleburne scored late when Quade Coward hit Khalil Hall with a 61-yard scoring pass.
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