By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Dickinson built a 21-3 halftime lead over Friendswood and then had to hold on to survive 21-16 in the District 24-6A opener for both teams.
Dickinson head coach John Snelson told his players, “You have to play a complete game against Friendswood because they never give up.”
Friendswood was able to get on the board first with a Cody Williamson 31-yard field goal with 4:23 left to play in the opening stanza.
But it was all Gators in the second quarter as Dickinson put up 21 unanswered points for a 21-3 lead at intermission.
All three scores came with less than five minutes left before halftime.
The first touchdown came at the 4:24 mark when Gator wide receiver Montel Parker scored on a 35-yard reverse touchdown run to cap a five-play, 55-yard scoring drive to give Dickinson a 7-3 lead.
Less than two minutes later, the Gators struck again, this time on a one-play 76-yard scoring jaunt when running back Myles Lewis took an option pitch to pay dirt for a 14-3 advantage.
With only 22 seconds left to go in the first half, Chris Welch burned the Friendswood defensive secondary on a 42-yard TD pass from QB Jordan Grigg. That completed a five-play, 69-yard drive that took only 1:15 giving the Gators a 21-3 lead at halftime.
History between these two teams has proven that the contest will be decided at the end no matter how the first half ended.
“I told our kids all week long that this game was going to be won in the 47th minute,” Snelson said.
“The last three years this game has been won in the 47th minute. Waylon Hurst, as a sophomore, picks off a pass with 19 seconds left on the goal line for a 33-30 win.
“Two years ago, Brad Woodard caught a screen pass with 1:30 left in the game and runs the thing to the 5 yard line.
“Last year, it was 28-20 with about 40 seconds left and we have fourth-and-six, and heck, we push that thing with Jordan Myers and we end up winning. It doesn’t matter (when Dickinson plays Friendswood). I just told our kids to trust their training.”
The Mustangs saw multiple missed chances to score in the first half.
“I told our kids at halftime to have no quit, believe in it, and they did,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “We should’ve probably been up 17-0 in the first half, We just missed on some little things, and against a team as fast and as athletic as them, you can’t do that.”
Sure enough, it would be Friendswood doing all the scoring in the second half.
Friendswood trimmed its halftime deficit to 21-9 with a 4-yard Page TD run with 3:03 left in the third quarter that capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive. Dickinson intercepted a two-point conversion attempt.
A muffed Dickinson punt recovered by the Mustangs’ Weston Owens at the 9:00 mark of the fourth quarter set Friendswood up at the Gators’ 28-yard line, and Page scored from 1-yard out 1:52 later to make the score 21-16.
Meanwhile, the Friendswood defense did their part limiting the potent Dickinson offensive attack to only 13 yards in the second half, until the Gators, clinging to the 21-16 lead, went on a key seven-play, 66-yard fourth quarter drive that didn’t net any points but chewed 4:50 off the game clock.
Friendswood took over on its own 14-yard line with 2:18 left in the game and drove to the Dickinson 40 with less than a minute left in the game.
This time it was D.J. Small intercepting Page deep in Gator territory to preserve the hard-fought contest for another Gator win.
The Gators defense held the crown jewel of Friendswood’s offense, Page, to 100 rushing yards (and no runs for more than 20 yards) and two TDs on 25 carries. Page also only completed 8-of-25 passes for 87 yards and an interception.
Elijah Blackburn had 16 carries for 54 yards. Bell had four catches for 47 yards.
Friendswood will host Clear Falls on Friday, September 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Henry Winston Stadium.