Friendswood drops heartbreaker to Clear Creek on final play

FRIENDSWOOD — There is one message that every coach preaches and that is to make sure you play all 48 minutes. That message couldn't have been any truer when Friendswood played Clear Creek as the game went the distance and the game wasn't decided until the final play with the clock showing no time left in the contest.

The Mustangs and Wildcats battled back and forth the entire game and in the latter part of the fourth quarter, it appeared that Friendswood might pull out the district showdown of the two unbeatens in league action.

With less than three minutes to go and Friendswood in the lead 42-35 and driving to score again, it appeared that the Mustangs were going to pull out the upset of the No. 8 area-ranked Wildcats.

But something unexpected happened as Friendswood QB Tyler Page, who is one of the most competitive players that anyone will ever see on the field of battle, stretched toward the Clear Creek goal line that ultimately would have put the game safely in the win column for the Mustangs.

Shockingly, the ball left Page's control and bounded out of the end zone giving the Wildcats the ball at their own 20 with just 2:03 left in the game.

The Wildcats then moved the ball 80 yards, scoring on a 1-yard pass by quarterback Chase Hildreth to Jack Kelly. The extra point tied the game at 42 apiece with 19 seconds remaining in the game.

With the stadium buzzing with the expectations of overtime, another shock wave shook the Friendswood side.

Friendswood coughed the ball up again, this time on the ensuing kickoff as Clear Creek attempted a squib kick.

The kick was mishandled by the Mustangs and the fumble was recovered by the Wildcats, setting them up first and 10 at the Friendswood 42-yard line.

Clear Creek QB Chase Hildreth missed on his first two pass attempts setting up a third down and 10 with 6 seconds to go.

After the Wildcats called their final timeout, Hildreth quickly hit his target, finding receiver Andy Wiesen, who stepped got out of bounds to stop the game clock, for a 16 yard gain to the Friendswood 26.

From the left hash, Erik Baughman lined up his 43-yard attempt into a crosswind and drilled the ball through the uprights as time expired for the win.

Clear Creek began their celebration with the unlikely 45-42 victory.

Page was also a victim of one of the most questionable calls made by the officials.

As Creek was driving toward the game-tying score, Page, who was also used on defense, was flagged for pass interference. Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann and the Friendswood players and fans were furious with the questionable call that had an effect on the outcome of the game.

Even the broadcasters announcing the game were completely astonished at the call that ultimately led to the Clear Creek win.

“You can’t fumble and beat a team as good as Clear Creek,” Koopmann said. “I’m not sure we fumbled, either.

“Everybody on our side thought he (Page) was down. I also thought there were some questionable calls for a game of this magnitude that set them up pretty well.

“On the pass interference call, I was told by an official that a hold right in front of our bench was insignificant and didn’t have any bearing on the play. And then in the end zone, I thought both kids were fighting for the ball and there should have been a no-call.”

Clear Creek led 7-0 after the first quarter and both teams scored twice in the second period leaving the Wildcats with a 21-14 halftime lead.

Page scored both touchdowns in the first half on 1-yard run and a trick play when backup QB Ryan Epperson threw a pass back to Page to complete a 19-yard scoring strike.

The Mustangs outscored the Wildcats in the third quarter 21-14 as Dylan Friske caught a 23-yard scoring pass from Page. Reed Roher grabbed a 9-yard scoring toss and Page added an 8-yard scoring scamper.

With 4:56 left in the game, Page put the Mustangs ahead 42-28 on a nifty 31-yard scoring dash before the wild finish ended with Creek pulling out the unlikely victory.

Page rushed 32 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns while also catching a trick-play pass for a 19-yard scoring reception. In addition, Page completed 9 of 14 passes for 153 yards and two more scores, accounting for 352 yards of offense.

Friendswood running back Mason Barnes rushed for 185 yards on 20 carries.

Roher had four catches for 102 yards and one score. Friske had two grabs for 43 yards and a TD.

Friendswood will host No. 6 state-ranked and district rival Dickinson (7-0, 4-0) on Friday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Henry Winston Stadium.