October 27, 2011

Gray, Aledo give cameras a prime-time performance

Johnathan Gray takes over with seven TDs on national TV.

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- A sign outside the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex touted Thursday night's matchup between Birdville and Aledo as a "green out."

As soon as the game started, it became a Johnathan Gray-out.

Gray scored the Bearcats' first seven touchdowns, all on the ground, as Aledo charged to a 67-42 win to claim at least a share of the District 5-4A title in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

On the Bearcats' first possession, Gray took a handoff and ran 61 yards untouched for a TD.

"We had to make a statement fast and quick," Gray said. "We said: 'Hey let's just go score on this and play hard the whole game.'"

Gray's carry gave Aledo its first lead 16 seconds into the game.

Gray scored twice more in the first quarter on rushes from 3 and 7 yards as the Bearcats took a quick 21-0 lead.

"We played great as a team, as a unit," Gray said. "As a unit with the guys pushing up front and blocking. We did a good job of that. That got us in the end zone."

Birdville didn't give up. The Hawks scored three times in the first half and trailed just 35-21 at halftime.

"We never give up. We keep fighting," Birdville senior running back Tyler Klutts said. "We always find the will to keep fighting. When they got up quick, we just tried to dig deep into our hearts ... and make it a good game. Our offense was capable of moving the ball and our defense had some big stops. We just came up a little bit short."

The Hawks were able to run the ball successfully against Aledo's defense. Quarterback E.A. Northey finished with 162 rushing yards and three TDs. Xavier Turner had 176 yards on the ground, and Klutts scored twice.

The Aledo lead was just too large for the Hawks to overcome. Gray, who finished with 265 yards rushing on a season-high 31 carries, picked up his sixth TD on Aledo's first possession of the second half.

Birdville had been driving with a chance to cut the Bearcats' lead to a single score but fumbled. Instead, Gray's 14-yard rush put Aledo up 41-21.

"We can't underestimate our opponents," Gray said of Birdville. "We just work hard all week and try to execute our plays."

Unofficially with his seven TDs, Gray passed T.A. McLendon (Albermarle, N.C., 1999-2001) for second place on the National Federation of State High School Associations' all-time scoring list with 1,100 career points.

He also became the all-time Texas leader for career 100-yard games with 44, passing Corpus Christi Calallen's Wes Danaher (1992-95).

"He's a great player," Klutts said. "It's really hard to stop him. There's nothing you can do with a guy like that with that much speed and power."

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

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