Grden passes Mustangs to 34-32 win over Foster

FRIENDSWOOD — The prognosticators said that Friendswood didn't have a chance against state-ranked Foster who was also picked to win the District 10-5A-I this season.

However, someone forgot to tell Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann and his gridiron warriors they were supposed to lose.

Because the Mustangs didn't get the memo -- they returned home from Traylor Stadium with a hard-fought 34-32 district win to keep them undefeated on the season at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in league play.

Quarterback Luke Grden kept the Mustangs in the game with his pinpoint passing as the game turned out to decide the game based on whoever had the ball last.

As it would turn out, Foster had the ball last with a chance to win the game on a field goal with 9.8 seconds remaining in the game.

The 32-yard attempt by Bryon Harrell hooked left of the mark leaving the Mustangs with the 34-32 victory.

It wasn't a good night for Harrell who missed two extra points and another field goal attempt while the Falcons (4-2. 2-1) also attempted a two-point conversion on a pass play that sailed over the receivers hands.

“We believed,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “We said we’re not going to be shocked when we beat these guys.

“Since August 1st, these guys have done everything we asked them to do. We knew we couldn’t run the ball and we just abandoned the run game.

“The defense came up with great plays. Just a total team effort from everyone. I don’t know where to start. Just an amazing effort from players and coaches.”

While the Friendswood ground attack managed only 30 yards on 23 carries, Grden put the offense on his shoulders hitting 19-of-31 passing for 262 yards and four TDs and one INT.

Friendswood jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead when Noah Palitz caught a 10-yard pass from Grden for a 7-0 lead with 5:45 left in the opening period. The score was set up by a blocked punt by Friendswood's Matthew Reyes.

Ryan Sweeny would add a 37-yard field goal three minutes later for the 10-point lead.

But Foster would come charging back at the 8:21 mark of the second quarter when Carter Wilson gathered in an 8-yard scoring toss from QB Ryan Stubblefield to cut the lead to 10-7.

It took less than a minute for Friendswood to find the end zone again as Grden hit John McCabe on a slant route. McCabe shucked a Foster defensive back and then turn on the jets for a sensational 66-yard scoring jaunt to put the Mustangs ahead 17-7 with 7:55 left before halftime.

But the Falcons responded with a 28-yard scoring pass from Stubblefield to Cody Jackson to cut the margin to 17-14 at the 4:59 mark of the second period.

Foster would take the lead with 1:17 left when Stubblefield hit Sean Kelly on a 9-yard scoring toss. The PAT was no good leaving the Falcons with a 20-17 lead at intermission. The score was set up by a Friendswood fumble that was recovered by Foster.

Friendswood scored on its first two possessions of the second half, getting a 20-yard Travis Mueller field goal to tie the game at 20 at the 10:09 mark.

Foster quarterback Ryan Stubblefield then threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night, firing a 36-yard scoring strike to Jackson with 8:30 showing. However, the Falcons had the PAT blocked, leaving them with a 26-20 lead.

Friendswood answered immediately, moving 63 yards in six plays, capped with Grden’s 13-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Christian Lee. With Travis Mueller’s PAT kick, Friendswood regained the lead at 27-26 with 5:48 showing on the clock.

Friendswood found holes in the Foster defense throughout the game, opened a 34-26 lead with 1:27 left in the third quarter when Grden hit Reyes on a 1-yard scoring toss.

The Falcons, though, responded with Isaac Johnson’s 1-yard run with 9:24 left in the game. The try for two failed leaving Friendswood clinging to a 34-32 lead.

Grden was 19-of-31 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns and one INT.

Christian Lee caught six passes for 72 yards, Noah Palitz caught five passes for 61 yards and one score while John McCabe caught four passes for 67 yards and one TD.

The Mustangs now will face No. 1 area-ranked Shadow Creek at Freedom Field at 7:00 p.m. Both teams enter the game undefeated with the winner claiming the top spot on the league leaderboard.