Its perch atop the Class 5A rankings and a years-long district winning streak receiving their stiffest challenge all season, Aledo answered with a championship drive.
Up 28-26 with 10:10 left and a resolute Saginaw Boswell waiting for another chance, the Bearcats drove 94 yards in 18 plays, taking 8:29 off the clock, and capping the drive with quarterback Jake Bishop’s 5-yard run to seal a 35-26 District 6-5A championship victory on Friday at Pioneer Stadium.
Bishop accounted for 320 total yards and four touchdowns, including passes of 51 and 52 yards to Beau Mask.
With the victory, the Bearcats extended their state-record district winning streak to 75 games. Aledo has won 11 consecutive district titles.
Along with the prize of the District 6-5A trophy, the Bearcats also earned the No. 1 Class 5A Division II seed out of district.
Aledo (10-0 overall, 7-0 district) will begin its quest for an eighth state championship next week against Wichita Falls Rider in a Region I bi-district game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saginaw High School.
“It’s something to think about, but we can’t get sidetracked by those things,” said defensive tackle James Williams, a Montana State pledge, of the winning streak. “We have to keep moving forward, see the bigger picture and get the ring.”
Boswell (9-1, 6-1) will play Denison in bi-district at 7 p.m. Friday at Apogee Stadium in Denton.
Pioneers sophomore quarterback Brayden Thomas was 24-of-40 for 302 yard and three touchdowns, including two to Breshun Berry.
Berry hauled in a 62-yarder in the first half and a 25-yarder at the end of the third quarter that cut Aledo’s lead to 28-26.
With just under 10:30 left, Boswell punted to the Bearcats’ 3-yard line.
Aledo’s offense got to work.
Running back Tre Owens carried nine times on the drive for 46 yards. Aledo converted five third downs, including Bishop’s TD run on third-and-goal.
“It was a big drive,” Williams said. “We needed at least a touchdown, [Boswell] down one possession. Our offensive line gave all they could and we came in and got the touchdown.”
Boswell scored 16 straight points in the first half.
Thomas was in on the two touchdowns, throwing a 62-yarder to Berry at the 5:54 mark, and a 33-yard strike to Jakoby Satroplus at 2:31 of the second quarter.
The Bearcats answered as the half closed, with Mask catching and running for his first TD to leave Aledo trailing 16-14 at halftime.
Aledo scored 14 straight points to open the half. Aaron Hale had a 3-yard run, then Bishop and Mask hooked up a second time.
The Pioneers, though, scored the next 19 points. Berry finished with six catches for 125 yards.
“I tip my hat to them,” Williams said of one-loss Boswell. “They’re a talented and well-coached team. They were doing some things [in the first half] that we hadn’t seen. We adjusted to those things at halftime, and came out with the win.”