RB Gray's eight TDs give Aledo state crown

Aledo rode Johnathan Gray's eight touchdowns to the Class 4A Division II crown Friday. Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Johnathan Gray put his name in the record book ahead of some of Texas’ most storied high school football players in leading Aledo to its second consecutive Class 4A Division II state championship Friday.

The junior running back torched La Marque’s defense for 325 yards and eight touchdowns in the Bearcats’ 69-34 landslide before 27,330 witnesses at Cowboys Stadium.

Gray's eight touchdownsincreased his season total to 59, shattering the 57-year-old record of 57 set by Sugar Land’s Ken Hall.

“We knew about the record, but there was no intention of trying to break it,’’ said Gray, the obvious choice for the game‘s outstanding offensive player. “I mean eight TDs, are you kidding me?’’

Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said Gray’s record is more impressive considering he hasn’t been running in practice for three weeks, since injuring his knee in a win over Hereford.

“The mental side was probably tougher than anything for him,’’ the coach said.

Pre-game attention focused on Gray’s head-to-head dual with La Marque’s star junior running back Tim Wright.

“I’m not saying I’m better,’’ Gray said, “but we’re state champions.’’

Wright rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

“He was up to the hype,’’ Wright said of Gray, “but I still think I’m better. The mistakes and turnovers beat us.’’

La Marque came close to matching Aledo’s quick strikes in the first half but couldn’t sustain the pace in the final two quarters.

Three of the Cougars’ five turnovers came in the second half.

“We played more contain in the second half,’’ said Aledo’s Rob Blowers, voted the game’s outstanding defensive player. “We were OK with letting Wright have three or four yards, but we had to stop the big plays.’’

Blowers accounted for two turnovers with an interception and a fumble recovery, ending consecutive La Marque possessions in the second half.

“We had a tough time stopping them,’’ Buchanan said. “Our defensive coaches did a good job making minor adjustments at halftime.’’

La Marque pulled to within 41-34 four minutes into the second half, but Aledo put it away by scoring the game’s 28 points.

Buchanan had a chance to soak it all in.

“The older you get, the better these are,’’ the coach said.

And with Gray and many of his teammates returning, don’t rule out an Aledo three-peat in 2011.