Friendswood beats Ball High to advance to district title game

FRIENDSWOOD — Friendswood has learned that the way a season begins is not necessarily the way it will end.

The Mustangs cruised to their fifth straight win over Ball High after dropping the first four games at the beginning of the 2021 season.

Now, Friendswood (5-4, 5-1) will close out the regular season, having already clinched their place in the post-season, with an opportunity to share the District 5A-9 Div. I title with Port Arthur Memorial (8-1, 6-0) whom they play at Henry Winston Stadium on Friday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m.

The Mustangs played a much-improved Ball High team at Courville Stadium and returned home with a hard-fought 34-21 district win.

The first quarter was a struggle for the Friendswood offense to get untracked while the Tors found the pay station on their initial possession to take an early 7-0 lead.

However, the Mustangs found their groove and scored 24 unanswered points while the defense came up with four interceptions leading to a 24-7 halftime lead.

“We just had to keep our kids positive, keep our kids moving forward,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “We just kept at it, kept trying to run the ball between the tackles and putting big people on big people, and it kind of worked for us.”

Friendswood scored their first points on a safety thanks to a high snap on a Ball High punt attempt with 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter making the score 7-2.

The Mustangs put together a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive that ended with a 25-yard run by Jackson Rhodes. QB Matthew Dupuis hit Hunter Smyrl for the two-point conversion to give Friendswood a 10-7 lead.

Braylan Shelby picked off a Ball High pass and returned it 30-yards to the Tors' 1-yard line. Rhodes got the call again and rammed it across the goal line for a 17-7 Mustang lead.

The Mustangs would score again after forcing Ball High to punt.

Dupuis found Aidan Stokes on a 36-yard scoring strike with 1:20 left in the first half to give the 'Stangs a comfortable 24-7 halftime lead.

Ball High came out in the third quarter with a 63-yard, 11-play drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 24-14.

Friendswood answered with a time consuming drive of their own that took 10-plays and 75-yards which ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dupuis to Smyrl to make the score 31-14.

The Tors scored again on a 1-yard run to narrow the gap to 31-21.

With 2:22 left in the game, Friendswood scored on a 22-yard field goal by Pietro Pasqualli to post the 34-21 final score.

Rhodes had 141 yards rushing on 23 carries and a touchdown for the Mustangs.