Friendswood upsets Hightower 27-24

FRIENDSWOOD — The Friendswood Mustangs knew going in to their first round showdown with Hightower that they were facing a state-ranked team that was undefeated and favored to end the season for the 'Stangs.

There has always been an ingredient for a Friendswood team that doesn't appear on the charts and that is heart. It is very difficult to measure the heart of a band of brothers and the Mustangs took that to Hall Stadium.

Hightower had, perhaps a more difficult task, and that was a way to stop junior quarterback Tyler Page, who has tormented teams all season with his ability to escape out of the grasp of defenders and turn plays into highlight reels.

The Mustangs proved they weren't intimidated by Hightower size and speed and Page proved why he and his teammates were not going to go down easy.

As it turned out, Page added more highlights to his resume and the defense came up with the game-changing plays that earned the Mustangs a 27-24 bi-district victory to send them to the area round of the Class 6A Region III Div. II playoffs.

Friendswood will face former 4A district rival Dawson on Friday, November 20 at 7:30 p.m. at NRG Stadium. The Eagles took out the La Porte Bulldogs 37-10 to move on in the post-season.

Dawson will have to figure out how to stop Page who has 1,876 yards rushing and 1,038 yards passing with a total of 28 TDs with 20 of those on the ground.

Hightower did as expected when they took the opening kickoff and drove it down the field to score on a 36-yard run by Devin McAdoo. The PAT was good for a 7-0 lead with 9:48 left in the first quarter.

Friendswood answered with a drive to the Hightower red zone, but had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Cody Williamson to cut the lead to 7-3.

Another Williamson field goal, this time from 30 yards out, made the score 7-6 3:04 later, and a 23-yard field goal by Hightower kicker Richie Rodriguez put Hightower up 10-6 at the 9:04 mark of the second quarter.

Trailing 10-6 and forced to punt, Friendswood’s Cade Roenne recovered a Hightower fumble on the return to set the Mustangs up at the Hurricanes’ 44-yard line.

On the fifth play, following the recovery, Page dropped backed, scrambled to his left, and fired a pass to running back Dylan Friske in the back of the end zone for a 23-yard TD pass to give Friendswood a 13-10 lead at the 5:43 mark of the second quarter.

The two defenses held firm for the rest of the half to leave Friendswood up 13-10 at the halftime intermission.

Friendswood would increase the lead to 20-10 when Page scored on a sensational 91-yard run for a touchdown.

The score came after Friendswood's defense stuffed the Hightower offense on fourth-and-2 at their own eight-yard-line instead of going for the tying field goal.

Three plays later, Page came up with a dazzling run for the 20-10 lead with 1:46 left in the game.

That's when things really got interesting as Hightower went on a 14-0 run to take a 24-20 lead with only 6:01 left in the contest.

Not fazed, the Mustangs drove 75 yards down the field, and a 33-yard TD pass from Page to receiver Tyrick Ramirez gave Friendswood the lead back with 3:23 left to play.

“We have a young team and for our offense to make a drive like that in a game like this, I’m so proud of everyone,” Page said. “We went out there calm. That’s what you have to do. Everybody ran their routes. Everybody was focused. We didn’t want the season to end today.”

Hightower’s offense began to move the ball again, but Friendswood defensive back Nick DeHoyos intercepted Hollins with 2:56 left to play.

“We’re playing in this big old 6A world, and I still can’t believe I play in the 6A world, but we’re going to put our people that we think we can put out there to put us in a position to win,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said.

Page finished with 280 rushing yards and a TD on 30 carries and was 10-for-13 passing for 140 yards and two TDs. Page had 420 of the Mustangs’ 477 total yards, and Friendswood outgained Hightower 477 yards to 350 yards.