Aledo has more state championships — six — than Mansfield Lake Ridge has varsity seasons — four.
But on Friday night, with Lake Ridge as deep in the playoffs as any Mansfield team ever, the Eagles looked like the veteran squad.
A strong rushing attack and a stingy defense powered Lake Ridge to a 42-21 win over Aledo in the Class 5A Division I semifinals at the Birdville Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.
The Eagles (15-0) meet Richmond George Ranch (15-0) in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Friday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Against Aledo, Lake Ridge finished with 335 yards rushing. Aledo’s secondary limited the Eagles’ passing game, but running back Duke Carter had over 100 yards rushing by the end of the first quarter.
“I thought their secondary did a nice job of taking some stuff away and we had to be patient,” Lake Ridge coach Kirk Thor said. “We had to get the safety to start biting on the run a little bit. It took a little while, but we did a great job.”
Carter was complemented, as usual, by his quarterback, Texas Tech commitment Jett Duffey. On Lake Ridge’s first drive. Duffey scampered for a 31-yard gain on second-and-10, setting up a Carter score.
Aledo (13-2) got the big play it needed on its third drive: A 31-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Davis to Hunter Rosson, cutting Lake Ridge’s lead to 14-7.
But even with Aledo’s secondary clamping down, Lake Ridge kept rushing the ball in large doses. A nine-play drive resulted in a 19-yard touchdown run by Carter.
Duffey delivered on the drive again, scampering for a 15-yard gain on thrid-and-13. Carter later ran for 15 yards on third-and-11, one play before his touchdown.
“It’s not like they were just knocking you back, but they get in your way,” Aledo coach Steve Wood said. “We couldn’t win that line of scrimmage.”
Duffey hit Tyler Robinson for a 29-yard touchdown pass with one second left in the half, a catch that was made off the tip of an Aledo defender.
The loss ended Aledo’s streak of 17 straight playoff wins over the last three seasons. The Bearcats won 5A titles last year and in 2013.