Defense sparks Friendswood to win over La Porte

FRIENDSWOOD — It has been said that sometimes a good offense is a great defense which is how Friendswood pulled out a non-district win over the La Porte Bulldogs 29-17.

With 1:21 left in the final period, Friendswood's Connor Haines made his second interception of the game count the most as he picked off a La Porte pass at the La Porte 33 and raced to the end zone for the score.

Friendswood was leading 22-17 late in the game, but the pick-6 by Haines sealed the win for the Mustangs to give them a 3-0 record to begin the season.

“The defense dominated; they got after it, didn’t they?” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “Connor is that dude that we need about 20 of those guys, and we’d be in good shape. He might not look like he should be out here, but that dude can play.”

La Porte took an early 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by Patrick Allen after Hunter Anderson intercepted a pass by Friendswood quarterback Luke Grden. Anderson return the pick to the Mustangs 15, but Friendswood's defense held the Bulldogs to the 3-pointer.

The Mustangs scored on their next possession after Haines got a great 32-yard punt return to the Bulldogs 20.

Grden wasted little time finding the pay station as he fired a 20-yard scoring strike to Matthew Kovacevich for a touchdown with 3:42 left in the opening quarter giving the Mustangs a 7-3 lead.

La Porte answered on their next possession as quarterback River Thompson hit wide receiver Elijah George to go back in front 10-7 on a 37-yard scoring pass.

Friendswood's offense took the lead again as Dane Roenne blasted across the goal line on a 1-yard plunge at the 3:44 mark in the second quarter.

They Mustangs used an 11-play, 62-yard drive that took close to five minutes off the clock for the score.

Facing fourth-and-one on the drive, Roenne got the call to keep the drive alive and did so with a five-yard run to give Friendswood a new set of downs. A 20-yard Grden pass to Dawson Johnson put the ball on the La Porte one-yard line setting up Roenne's scoring plunge for the 14-10 lead that stood at halftime.

Midway in the third quarter, Grden hit a punt that pinned La Porte on their own 2-yard line. The Friendswood defense put the heavy rush on the Bulldogs quarterback that forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone resulting in a safety for two-points for the Mustangs and a 16-10 lead.

With 2:03 left in the third stanza, Friendswood's next possession resulted in another score as Grden lofted a short-screen pass to Noah Palitz who turned the catch into a 34-yard touchdown for the 22-10 advantage.

Grden was 22-for-36 passing for 230 yards, two TDs, and two INTs.

Palitz had five catches for 59-yards and one score and also 11 carries for 38 yards on the ground.

Johnson had four grabs for 51 yards.

“Get healthy, get mentally rested a little bit, and then get ready for the thing that they call 10-5A,” Koopmann said about the upcoming bye week.

Friendswood has an open date this week, but will begin District 10-5A-I action on Friday, September 27 when they travel to Stingaree Stadium to face the Texas City Stings at 7:00 p.m.