For two teams representing areas that were heavily impacted by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey, a football game may have seemed a bit irrelevant. But as Friendswood took the field in its first home game of the season, the familiar September buzz in the air signaled a return to something other than contractors, mildew and Sheetrock, if only for a few hours: normality.
After jumping out to a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter, the Friendswood Mustangs went on to defeat the Humble Kingwood Mustangs 31-16 at Henry Winston Stadium on Friday.
The game was Kingwood’s first of the year.
“Hats off to those guys,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said of Kingwood after the game. “They’re dealing with stuff. They’re not in their school, and not in field houses. I mean (the coach) didn’t have headsets working. I mean Kingwood came out here to play and they had a lot of things going against them. They’re going to be so much better next week, just like we were. That one week makes a difference.”
A week after losing to Barbers Hill 45-28, Friendswood lined up across from Kingwood and turned a page in the first quarter. It took them just five plays and 2:08 to reach the end zone, when Ben Redding took the second handoff on a reverse and trotted across the goal line to put Friendswood up 7-0.
Kingwood fumbled in its own territory on its first play from scrimmage, and two plays later Friendswood went up 14-0 when Garrett Hurst connected with Koleman Bell on a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Kingwood’s next drive ended on another fumble, and Friendswood capitalized with a 21-yard field goal by Sam Wittman that put them up 17-0 midway through the first quarter.
Friendswood scored again just before halftime when Nick Swaney caught a pass from Christian Lee and then proceeded to drag a would-be tackler for several yards before breaking free and dashing into the end zone for what was a 71-yard touchdown reception.
“It was our first normal practices since the flood, and I think that paid off for us,” Koopmann said. “We were much sharper tonight … Getting the offense on track — to come out and put two great drives together — helped.”
Garrett Hurst led the Friendswood offense, completing nine of 17 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He also added a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Swaney led all receivers, and finished the night with two receptions for 111 yards and the score.
Kingwood notched both of their touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“It’s still in our minds,” Koopmann said about the effects of Harvey. “We still have kids that are displaced. We still have kids that are out. I mean, I still have family members that are displaced. And so I don’t know. It’s going to be a long time until it’s out of our minds.”