Friendswood upsets No. 10 area-ranked La Porte 19-7

FRIENDWOOD — When veteran senior quarterback Luke Grden went down with an ankle injury earlier in the season, the Mustangs knew it would be an uphill climb to make the playoffs after Friendswood was a pre-season pick to win the District 9-5A-I crown.

The uphill climb remains, but Friendswood took some steps toward their ultimate goal with their 19-7 win over No. 10 area-ranked La Porte.

“We needed this one. We really did,” said Robert Koopmann, Friendswood’s head coach. “We needed a break, and we’re going to take every break we can get in 2020.”

Though Grden is not quite 100 percent yet, a less than 100 percent Grden is better than most quarterbacks on other teams operating at full speed.

Friendswood is now 2-2 in the district standings and in the middle of contention. A loss to La Porte would have pretty much ended their playoff hopes.

The Mustangs are in a three-way tie for third place with La Porte (2-2), Goose Creek Memorial (2-2) while Beaumont United (3-1) and Baytown Lee (3-1) are in a tie for second place while Port Arthur Memorial sits atop the district leaderboard at 4-0.

Ball High (0-4) and Baytown Sterling (0-4) are in the cellar and out of contention.

Friendswood still has to face Ball High, Goose Creek Memorial, and Port Arthur Memorial. The Mustangs will need to continue to stay on the winning path.

Meanwhile, having Grden back on the field has provided added confidence to the team and he certainly provided the senior leadership that the Mustangs have needed.

Plus, the Friendswood defense also stepped up their effort to thwart the Bulldog offense while getting two safeties that put points on the board.

“Our defensive effort was lights out tonight,” said Koopmann, who is hoping to get back standout halfback Noah Palitz, who sat out the game with an injury. “That front seven is physical and they controlled that game. It was fun to watch those guys tonight. We’ve had some back luck, but everybody has.

“It felt good to get some breaks tonight and watching that front seven make those happen.”

Friendswood set the tone of the game 12 seconds into the game.

Grden dropped back and fired a perfect strike to Nolan Smith, who had gotten behind the La Porte defensive back, for a 75-yard touchdown bomb. The PAT was blocked and the Mustangs were quickly in front 6-0.

Friendswood got a 19-yard field goal from Conner Rickards to make the score 9-0 and then two wild snaps on fourth down when the Bulldogs were punting that ended up out of the end zone gave the Mustangs four more points for a 13-0 lead.

La Porte scored in the first half following a Grden fumble at the Friendswood 40 making the score 9-7 at halftime.

The Friendswood defense put the final nail in the coffin in the second half when senior defensive end Elliot Spiller ripped the ball from a La Porte ball carrier and scored on an 80-yard fumble recovery to make the final score 19-7.

The Mustangs defense, let by Spiller, Matthew Reyes, and Jared Yawn dominated the Bulldogs allowing only 78 first half yards and 191 total yards for the game.

Friendswood is now 2-4 on the season and will face Goose Creek Memorial on Friday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m. at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown.