The stifling defense and big-play ability of the Cypress-Fairbanks Bobcats were too much for underdogs Friendswood, as the Mustangs fell, 45-14, in Friday’s Region III-6A, Division II regional semifinal game at TDECU Stadium.
“Their defense is so good, and we struggled running the ball,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said. “Then we got in that mode where we had to throw every down.”
Cy-Fair’s well-regarded run game consistently moved the chains and helped drain the clock, but it was the Bobcats’ passing game that helped them establish control of the game early.
A 47-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Cameron Arnold (9-for-13, 168 yards passing) to Christian Richmond (62 receiving yards, 14 rushing yards) at the 9:30 mark of the second quarter gave Cy-Fair a 10-0 lead.
Friendswood responded with a methodical, pass-heavy scoring drive capped by freshman quarterback Luke Grden (18-for-28, 125 yards) finding Austin Alvarez (four receptions, 35 yards) on a perfectly-thrown 20-yard TD connection to cut the Cy-Fair lead to 10-7 midway through the second quarter.
An 18-yard reverse by Eddie Sumler (which featured a huge block) set up a 42-yard TD strike from Arnold to Sumler (79 receiving yards, 22 rushing yards) for a 17-7 Cy-Fair lead with 4:26 to go in the second quarter.
Friendswood’s defense managed to force its first punt of the night, but on the first play of the Mustangs’ ensuing drive, running back Mason Barnes was rocked on a screen pass and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Cy-Fair at the Friendswood 21-yard line.
The Bobcats took advantage of a pass interference penalty and scored on a 7-yard TD pass from Arnold to Jacob Farrell for a 24-7 lead with just 22 seconds left in the first half.
Cy-Fair scored the first points of the game on its first drive, as kicker Max Duque put a field goal through the uprights from 34 yards out for the early 3-0 lead.
Grden was sacked and fumbled in the end zone on the opening possession of the second half, and D-lineman Peyton Lewis recovered the loose ball for a 31-7 Cy-Fair lead.
“It just snowballed,” Koopmann said. “You have to be able to run the ball a little bit. They just start pinning their ears back, and it’s just too hard for to protect.”
After that, Cy-Fair’s defense forced three consecutive punts and a turnover on downs, and the offense added a 5-yard rushing TD from workhorse running back Trenton Kennedy (22 carries, 86 yards) for a 38-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Mustangs got back on the board with an 18-yard TD pass from Grden to Ben Redding (six receptions, 53 yards) with 4:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Cy-Fair assured an unlikely comeback would not be in the cards with a 67-yard TD run by Devin Zeigler on the Bobcats’ next possession.
“I just told the seniors how proud I am of them for playing four years of 6A football as the smallest 6A in Texas, winning a playoff game all four years, losing tonight to a school that basically has another 5A school on campus more than what we have,” Koopmann said. “I can’t ask any more of the seniors.”