Friendswood falls to Hightower 14-9


FRIENDSWOOD — Friendswood came out of the gate for the 2018 football season with five consecutive wins including their first two district games and looked well on their way to advance to their seventh straight playoff appearance.

The 14-9 loss to the Hightower Hurricanes marked the third straight district defeat and now the Mustangs are in grave danger of not making the post-season for the first time under head coach Robert Koopmann. It is also the first time that Koopmann has seen one of his teams drop three straight games since he took over the helm in 2012.

On the other hand, Hightower began the season at 0-5, but have made the turn around with a three-game win streak to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Shadow Creek is currently in first place at 5-0 after a miraculous 35-34 comeback win over Foster last week. Defending champion Angleton is a game back at 4-1, while Foster and Hightower are tied at 3-2 with Friendswood and Terry at 2-3. Galveston Ball (1-4) and Texas City (0-5) are eliminated from consideration.

Friendswood is in a must-win situation as they only have two league games remaining and they are facing two playoff contenders in Terry and Angleton.

This is the time that the coaches and players need to come together and play with purpose as a team with total abandonment or the Mustangs will be watching from the sidelines when the post-season begins. The last time Friendswood missed the playoffs was in 2007.

The Mustangs certainly didn't play with the kind of urgency they needed against Hightower as they continue to lose focus when they get in the red zone.

In their loss to Shadow Creek, the Mustangs were inside the 20 five different times and only scored one offensive touchdown.

Against Hightower, the Friendswood offense only generated three field goals of 32, 38, and 39-yards off the foot of Austin Alvarez for nine points.

Alvarez's two field goals in the opening quarter gave the Mustangs a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period.

The Mustangs drove from the 50 to the Hightower 12 yard line before having to settle for the 32-yard field goal with 7:05 left in the opening quarter.

Friendswood got their second field goal after a 7-play, 59-yard drive to the Hurricane 21 before kicking the 38-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead with 1:31 left in the first period.

But the Hurricanes took control of the second quarter with two touchdowns.

Hightower scored their first touchdown on a 57-yard, six-play drive capped off by a 4-yard keeper by quarterback Brandon Smith to take a 7-6 lead with 6:51 left in the second quarter.

Smith scored his second touchdown on a 21-yard run with 1:32 left before halftime giving the Hurricanes a 14-6 lead at intermission.

That would be all the points that Hightower would need as they allowed only one more Alvarez field goal with 1:13 left in the third quarter to make the score 14-9.

Friendswood had an opportunity to take the lead prior to the field goal after Ryan Tostado recovered a Hightower fumble at the Hurricane 19. But the Friendswood offense sputtered forcing the field goal.

With 3:12 left in the game, Friendswood had one more opportunity when they got the ball at the Hightower 33 after a terrible punt.

A pass from quarterback Luke Grden to Noah Palitz placed the ball at the Hightower 9. But the Mustangs lost yardage on the next two plays and two incomplete passes on third and fourth downs spelled their doom allowing the Hurricanes to run out the clock for the district win.

On four occasions during the game, the Mustangs were at the Hightower 20-yard line or closer, but couldn't punch the ball in the end zone.

"Our defense played lights out," Koopmann said. "Especially in the second half. They did everything we asked them to do.

"Offensively, we played well at times, but we just can't finish and make the plays we need to. We still have something to play for. Offensively, we're just struggling."

Grden struggled for most of the game as he was 11-for-39 passing for only 99 yards.

Running back Luke Revere was the workhorse of the game with 19 carries for 118 yards.

The Mustangs finished with only 205 offensive yards.

Friendswood will host their final home game of the regular season against Terry on Friday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Henry Winston Stadium.