MESQUITE -- It is good to be an Aledo Bearcat.
It's even better to be Aledo star running back Johnathan Gray.
To cap a week in which he was named Gatorade national player of the year and won the Landry Award, Gray scored five rushing touchdowns to lead the Bearcats past Corsicana 68-28 and into the Class 4A Division II state championship game.
Aledo (13-2), which will play either Manvel or Corpus Christi Calallen for the title on Dec. 17 at Cowboys Stadium, is trying to win a third straight championship.
"It was a total team effort tonight," said Gray, who finished with 218 yards on 22 carries. "To come out here and be going to another state championship is amazing. You live in the moment. Last night was last night and today is today. We came out and left everything on the field."
With the five scores, Gray tied Michael Hart (Onondaga, N.Y.) for the national high school record for career rushing TDs with 204. He also broke his own single-season Texas record of 59 rushing TDs with 64.
"He's a heck of a football player," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. "It's hard to describe how good a football player he is. The offensive line did a good job in the first half opening up the crease, and if he can get to the second level, there is a really good chance he can score."
Aledo's offense wasn't just Gray. QB Matthew Bishop competed 10 of 12 passes for 194 yards and two TDs, both to Michael Mann (four catches, 98 yards).
The first passing TD came on a throw with no time remaining in the first half. An interception by Todd Christian set up the Bearcats on their own 44 with five seconds remaining. Pass interference on the Tigers gave Aledo one final play from the Corsicana 36.
"I'd say that was the play of the game," Buchanan said. "First getting the pass interference call. We wanted to throw a Hail Mary, but we were too far out. It worked exactly the way we wanted it to. Willie [Gibson] tipped it, and Michael went up and made the catch."
Bishop dropped back and heaved the ball into the end zone, where Gibson went up and tipped the ball to Mann for the score. After a 2-point conversion, Aledo led 28-14.
The play switched the momentum back to Aledo, which led 20-0 on three Gray TD runs, from 16, 1 and 23 yards. But the Tigers (13-2) clawed back into the game on a pair of four-yard TDs.
Aledo sophomore Jonny Carter returned the second-half opening kickoff 82 yards for a TD, and Aledo scored five TDs in the third to put the game away.
Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760