— By BRIAN SMITH
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Aledo’s march to a state title claimed two more victims Friday night — Saginaw Boswell and Mother Nature.
The former was scheduled as the Bearcats’ Area-round matchup. The latter had to be dealt with as well, as temperatures just above freezing, rain throughout the game and a healthy north wind would seemingly put the kibosh on the normally high-powered Aledo offense, which had been averaging more than 550 yards and nearly 69 points a contest.
After a somewhat slow start offensively, the Bearcats got things rolling with a 36-point second quarter, effectively sending the Pioneers back home and allowing Aledo to take a 75-14 Class 4A Division II win at Birdville’s Fine Arts & Athletic Complex.
Even Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan seemed surprised when told his squad had put up 501 yards of total offense in the contest, which was played before an estimated 1,500 diehard fans.
“We knew going in we would have to protect the football with these weather conditions,” Buchanan said. “If we could do that, we knew we’d win the game. We felt we were the better team tonight.”
Aledo proved up Buchanan’s notions despite being without the services of offensive threat Ryan Newsome, who did not play due to a mild concussion suffered last week. Buchanan said the wideout/quarterback is expected back next week for the Region I contest.
Nary a first-half offensive series started in Bearcat territory, as Aledo took advantage of short punts and solid defense to maintain a short field through the opening quarters.
The Aledo ‘D’ allowed just one first down and 11 total yards in the first half.
After forcing a three-and-out on the opening series, highlighted by a sack from Zach Hyles, the Aledo offense needed just five plays to begin the scoring. Scoring the first of four touchdowns on the night, junior Jess Anders found pay dirt from 11 yards out around the left side to cap the 35-yard drive.
Boswell (8-4) managed a defensive stop on Aledo’s next set of downs, but Parker Shaunfield’s 40-yard field goal extended the lead to 10-0 midway through the first.
Aledo’s defense, led by Hyles, Hershel Gardner and Ray Hart, forced three-and-outs on all but one first half drive.
Anders capped the longest first-half drive, from 50 yards out, with a 9-yard score up the gut early in the second. The Aledo offense took just nine snaps for the balance of the first half, but netted four scores, including a pair of touchdown passes from Luke Bishop to John Whatley of 29 and 37 yards. A Daythan Davis 6-yard run gave the Bearcats a 46-0 halftime cushion.
A bad snap on the final extra-point try was salvaged when holder Tyson Mauser found Matthew Hawkins open in the end zone for a two-point conversion. Mauser also added a conversion run in the fourth quarter. The ad lib helped keep Aledo kicker Chance Nevarez’ consecutive PATs intact. The growing consecutive point-after state/national record swelled to 185 as Nevarez added eight more kicks to the number.
Boswell had two third-quarter scores, coming through with 144 of its 187 yards in the process. Aledo matched, as Whatley and Bishop hooked up for the third time and Anders ran in the last of his TDs.
Aledo added a pair of Isaiah Mallory scores in the fourth quarter, including a 98-yarder. Mallory came off the bench to lead the Bearcats’ rushing attack with 123 yards on seven totes.
Aledo continues to dominate postseason opposition in dramatic fashion, and will face another test next week.
In the regional round, Aledo will meet the Canyon Eagles, who eliminated El Paso Bowie. The Bearcats and Eagles will face off in Snyder on Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Aledo will be the visiting team. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m.