Cedar Park ends season for Friendswood 31-14

FRIENDSWOOD — The Cedar Park Timberwolves took the lead late in the first half at NRG Stadium and used that momentum in the second half to post a 31-14 victory over the Friendswood Mustangs in the Class 5A Region III Div. I area round.

The two teams battled to a scoreless first quarter as both teams had two possessions that ended in stalled drives.

Friendswood got the opening kickoff and drove from their own 34 to the Cedar Park 20. Facing fourth-and-3, a pass from quarterback Luke Grden fell short of the intended target.

Both teams traded punts when Cedar Park began their second possession on the Timberwolves 43. It looked like they would score when they faced a fourth-and-5 on the Friendswood 13.

Instead of settling for a field goal, the Timberwolves drew up a pass, but Friendswood's Dane Roenne and Matt Reyes sacked QB Ryder Hernandez to keep the game scoreless.

Friendswood took over the ball and drove to the Cedar Park 28 where they fumbled the ball back to the Timberwolves.

With 5:31 left in the first half, Cedar Park used a 3-play, 75-yard drive to finally put some points on the board as Hernandez hit junior wide receiver Tristan Hervey who caught the ball at the 42, shook off a Friendswood defender, and raced 58-yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

The Timberwolves forced a punt and it took only four-plays on their next possession to score on a 10-yard pass from Hernandez to senior WR Kevin Adams for a 14-0 lead with 2:47 left before halftime.

But the Mustangs weren't going away as they used a nine-play, 69-yard drive to score on a 5-yard run by Noah Palitz with :50 seconds left before intermission to cut the lead to 14-7.

The key play in the drive was a pass from Grden to Christian Lee to made an incredible 34-yard catch to put the ball inside the five-yard line. Lee also caught two other passes in the drive covering 14 and 8-yards to keep the ball moving toward the goal line.

Cedar Park scored on their first two possessions of the second half on a 13-play, 73-yard drive capped off by a 13-yard scoring run by Hernandez with 7:27 left in the third quarter for a 21-7 advantage.

The second score was a 25-yard field goal thanks to an interception on Friendswood's first possession of the second half to make the score 24-7 with 4:15 left in the third.

The Mustangs finally scored early in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard scoring pass from Grden to Patrick Elizondo with 11:39 left in the game to cut the margin to 24-14.

But that would be as close as the Mustangs would get as the Timberwolves put the game away with 8:49 left to make the final score 31-14.

Hernandez, a junior, finished the game with 31-of-40 passing for 328 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, he carried 10 times for 40 yards and another score. At one point, Hernandez had 17 straight completions as the Mustangs had no answer for the precision passing of the Timberwolves.

Friendswood also had no rushing attack putting the offense on Grden's shoulders. The Mustangs finished with only 12 yards rushing for the game.

Lee had nine catches for 164 yards.

"They’re good, and we knew they were,” Mustang head coach Robert Koopmann said. “They’ve had so much success. I don’t think we brought our ‘A’ game, and sometimes it happens.

“I’m super proud of the effort of our kids. We wanted to run the ball because you can’t just throw it every doggone play, but that’s who we were this year. No one saw our success coming, finishing second in this district. To compete as hard as we competed was a tribute to the seniors."