Friendswood, Page knock out defending state champions

FRIENDSWOOD — Last season was a dream-come-true year for the George Ranch Longhorns as they went 16-0 and captured the Class 5A Div. I state championship.

George Ranch moved up to Class 6A when the University Interscholastic League realigned them for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Welcome to playing with the big boys!

This season, the Longhorns lost four regular season games to Dickinson, The Woodlands, Dawson, and Pearland to finish fourth in the District 23-6A standings after getting the pre-season nod to win the league title.

Playing in their first 6A playoff contest, they had to face the Friendswood Mustangs who are relatively new to 6A themselves.

But the Longhorns had no answer for QB Tyler Page and his fellow warriors.

Page is the first to proclaim his dependence on his teammates as this isn't a one man show. He recently expressed that he was just one member of the team and Friendswood wouldn't have the success they have experienced without a strong team effort.

But most teams who face the Mustangs will say they had no answer for the SMU commit who plays more like a Houdini -- now you see him -- now you don't.

Area defensive coordinators hold their breath each time Page is on offense and he has proven to make each one of his teammates better in the process.

The first half was a battle as both teams scored a pair of touchdowns apiece.

George Ranch opened up the scoring with the first touchdown as QB Antonio Jackson tossed an 8-yard TD with 8:26 left in the first period to cap a 11-play, 76-yard drive.

Friendswood answered with a score of their own as Koleman Bell scored on an 11-yard run to tie up the game following the PAT by Cody Williamson at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter.

After Tom Hermes came up with a pass interception at the George Ranch 25, Page went on one of elusive runs to score on a 25-yard touchdown with 7:37 left in the second period for a 14-7 lead.

But the Longhorns answered before the end of the first half when Sabastian Arellano scored on a 2-yard run with only 15 seconds before intermission to send both teams to the dressing room still tied at 14-14.

The Mustangs came out strong in the second half to outscore George Ranch, 28-7 with Page getting 219 of his 310 total rushing yards. “We talked at halftime that George Ranch wasn’t going to go away easy,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “So we feel real fortunate to come out and play the way we did in the second half to get those guys. That was a big win.”

Friendswood set the tone in the second half when Page took a pitch from backup quarterback Justin Karam to score on a 3-yard sweep for a 21-14 advantage.

The Longhorns answered back when quarterback Antonio Jackson found Quintin Morris for their second scoring hookup of the game, a 31-yard touchdown, tying the game, 21-21, with 8:24 in the third.

After trading three-and-outs, the Mustangs found the end zone again.

On a third-and-goal from the 4-yard line Page did a jump pass touchdown to Calvin Whitaker, and after a Williamson extra point, the Mustangs led 28-21 with 5:11 left in the third.

That would be as close as the Longhorns would get as the Mustangs outscore George Ranch 14-0 as the Tyler Page show would put the nail in the coffin.

Page would score on a 35 and 9-yard run with the final score coming with only 2:18 left in the contest that would end the Longhorns season.

Page was 6-of-8 passing for 56 yards and one score while rushing for 307 yards on 36 carries and four TDs.

Bell had 36 yards on the ground on 11 totes and one score.

The Mustangs advance to face the La Porte Bulldogs at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at Challenger Columbia Stadium, 1955 W. NASA Blvd., League City.