Friendswood survives Clear Springs 42-35

FRIENDSWOOD — It was closer than it should have been, but the Friendswood Mustangs survived a late comeback by the Clear Springs Chargers to get a hard-fought 42-35 victory to stay perfect in District 24-6A with a 3-0 mark.

Friendswood improves to 4-2 on the season while Clear Springs drops to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in league action. The Mustangs are tied atop the district leaderboard with Dickinson and Clear Creek.

The Mustangs rode the athleticism of junior QB Tyler Page as he rushed for a game-high 220 yards on 30 carries and four touchdowns. The all-purpose athlete scored on runs of 54, 1, 1, and 17 yards to lead the 'Stangs to the crucial league win.

It didn't take long for the Mustangs to let both crowds know they were in the house as Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann turned to a little trickery on the first play running a sweep with Tyrick Ramirez getting the ball and sending Nick Dehoyos deep down the left sideline.

The Chargers reacted to the sweep but left Dehoyos all alone as Ramirez tossed a beautiful pass for the 30-yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead following the PAT by Cody Williamson with 10:54 left in the opening quarter.

The play was set up after Clear Springs fumbled the ball on their opening possession and recovered by Friendswood's Matt Russo.

It took the Chargers just over a minute to answer as Adrion Smith found a hole in the middle of the Friendswood defense and used his speed to race to a 62-yard score to tie up the game 7-7 at the 9:36 mark of the first quarter.

The Mustangs had a quick answer as Page scored after breaking several tackles, juking other defenders, and finally finding open spaces to complete a sensational 54-yard jaunt to give Friendswood a 14-7 lead.

With only 21 seconds left in the first, Clear Springs scored again on a 2-yard run by Kristian Lyons to tie up the game 14-14.

Friendswood scored the only touchdown of the second quarter as Mason Barnes broke free on a 14-yard scoring sprint to take a 21-14 lead into the dressing room at intermission. The score capped a 74 yard, 11-play drive at the 8:24 mark. The big play in the drive was a 22-yard pass from Page to Ramirez to set up the score four plays later.

The second half began with an eight-play, 72-yard drive by the Mustangs with Page scoring from the 1-yard line giving Friendswood a 28-21 lead. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard run by Barnes.

"I kept saying if we could get two scores up on them, we'd be pretty good. Then, all of a sudden, they got locked in and started throwing the ball around, and we were having a hard time," Koopmann said.

Clear Springs closed the gap at the 7:13 mark when Smith got untracked again on a 44-yard scoring jaunt to bring the Chargers within 28-21.

Friendswood answered with a 10-play, 70-yard drive with Page scoring on a 1-yard sneak to put the Mustangs up by 34-21 with 11:57 left in the fourth quarter after the PAT was hooked left of the mark.

The Mustangs increased their lead to 42-21 with 8:21 remaining in the game as Page scored his fourth TD of the contest. The two-point conversion was good as Page hit Nick Swaney with a pass.

But the game was far from over as the Chargers came roaring back.

With 6:12 left in the game, Clear Springs scored on a 3-yard pass to close the gap to 42-28.

Clear Springs failed to cover the onside kick, but the defense forced Friendswood to punt. However, the punt was partially blocked leaving the Chargers with a short field at the Mustangs 36.

The Chargers scored again on a 23-yard run with 3:11 still remaining in the game to narrow the score at 42-35.

Their second attempt at an onside kick worked giving the Chargers the ball at the Friendswood 45.

That's when Friendswood got some help as Clear Springs imploded. Instead of moving forward, they went backward starting with a snap by the center that got past the quarterback for a 21 yard loss.

Friendswood's defense stepped up forcing a fourth-and-28. The pressure from the Mustangs forced a wild throw that was intercepted by Matt Russo to seal the win for the Mustangs with just seconds remaining in the game.

Barnes had an outstanding game to compliment Page as he had 131 yards rushing on 21 carries and one score.

Page also had an efficient 5-for-7 passing for 62 yards to go with his 220 yards rushing.

Ramirez had two catches for 51 yards and one TD. Swaney had two grabs for 22 yards and a two-point conversion catch.

The schedule only gets tougher as the Mustangs face the Clear Creek Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. in League City in a battle of district unbeatens.