The biggest decision of Aledo coach Steve Wood’s career left him with two choices.
His Aledo Bearcats were facing fourth-and-1 from the Temple 15, down three points with about a minute left. They could go for it, risking the game and their season. Or they could send out their young kicker for a chip-shot field goal.
Wood saw only one path to a title.
“You’re playing for a state championship, and you’ve got 1 yard to go,” the first-year head coach recalled thinking. “We got a tough Jess [Anders], a good ol’ line. Let’s go get us a yard.”
Behind a power set, Anders converted the first down, and Luke Bishop scored on a 6-yard run with 47 seconds left, as Aledo came back for a 49-45 victory over Temple in the Class 5A Division I championship game at AT&T Stadium.
Bishop, who earned offensive MVP honors, intercepted quarterback Chad President’s Hail Mary pass in the end zone to end the game.
The senior’s brief stint on defense came after he engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive to bring home Aledo’s fifth state title in six years and sixth overall.
Temple (13-2) took a 45-42 lead with 5:50 left after a double pass from Tyler Hannon was deflected by two Aledo defenders and landed in the hands of Jordan Lee for a 40-yard touchdown.
Aledo (15-1) led 35-17 at halftime behind a 55-yard run from Bishop, touchdown runs of 2 and 11 yards by Anders, Larry Brown’s interception return for a touchdown and a 5-yard touchdown catch by Austin Summerhill.
Temple, however, scored two touchdowns in 17 seconds late in the third quarter. Marques Hatcher took a 9-yard run in for a score, then scored on a 5-yard run after Temple recovered an onside kick.
Aledo extended its lead to 42-31 wth a 29-yard pass from Bishop to Anders on fourth down with 11:03 left. But Temple came back again, with President scoring on a 6-yard run before the lateral and throw downfield to Lee.
“I don’t know if we looked panicked, but I felt pretty panicked,” Wood said. “I can promise you, if [Bishop] has a say in the matter, you’re going to come out. Unless something really, really bad happens, he’s going to go out and compete his tail off.”
Aledo relied on Bishop as much as ever on the game-winning drive.
He threw one pass — a 5-yard completion to Ryan Newsome — and carried six times, including a 9-yard run on third-and-2 from the Bearcats’ 46.
“They made a great run at us, and I just told everybody to stay calm,” Bishop said. “I knew we had a great offense, and coach [Rocky] Jones would give us the right plays to move the ball down the field.”
After Bishop’s winning touchdown, Aledo left Temple 41 seconds to drive 76 yards. President rushed for 7 yards and completed three passes to the Aledo 35 before Bishop picked off his final throw.
Bishop had minimum experience in the secondary before Saturday. But when Aledo needed to prevent a long touchdown, Wood plugged Bishop into the package.
“He’s got great sport sense,” Wood said. “He doesn’t sit in there and play computer games all day long. He’s a competitor.”