LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With the game on the line, the offense couldn't get going, and the defense couldn't stop the opposition.
Consequently, the Lakewood Ranch Mustangs were eliminated from a chance at postseason play with a 29-20 setback to Seminole Osceola in the Class 6A-District 7 showdown on Friday night.
The Warriors earned their sixth consecutive victory and locked up the runner-up spot with a bulldozing attack and a defensive effort that limited the Mustangs in the fourth quarter.
"We just didn't make some stops," Ranch head coach Shawn Trent said. "I thought we killed ourselves a couple times in the first half with penalties on defense and giving big plays and just mistakes."
That last quarter began with Osceola holding a 15-14 advantage and Ranch driving.
However, the Mustangs' offense sputtered and a failed fourth-and-8 play gave Osceola the ball with 11:17 remaining.
There was still plenty of time for Ranch's postseason dreams.
But that notion was quelled when the Warriors ripped off runs of 25, 13 and 22 yards in succession over the next 1 minute, 11 seconds to give themselves a comfortable cushion at 22-14.
"It's a huge disappointment," said Ranch junior running back Chris Pearcey, who had a game-high 126 rushing yards. "We really wanted to get this one for the seniors. It's their last game on this field, and it was disappointing."
Ranch went three-and-out on its next possession, while Osceola continued with a nine-play drive that
resulted in quarterback Andrew Matyk's lone rushing attempt for the game, which landed the senior in the end zone virtually untouched.
"We knew ultimately it was going to come down to them running the ball, which is what it was going to take," said Trent about Osceola's offense, which gained 281 yards on the ground.
The Mustangs did pull off a hook-and-ladder play to cut the deficit to the final 29-20 margin late in the fourth quarter, but did not get the ball back after kicking it away with about four minutes remaining.
The Warriors registered a couple first downs before killing the remaining clock to lock up the final playoff berth from 6A-7.
Meanwhile, Ranch lost for the second straight week to a district opponent after getting thumped by Largo on Oct. 26.
The Mustangs finish their season next week at Manatee, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and Class 7A.
The several freshmen and sophomores on the roster, though, give Trent a solid foundation looking ahead to the 2013 season.
"We're very young, and it would have been nice for these guys, the young kids, to get a chance to go to the playoffs just to see what it's like and have a chance for their future," Trent said. " We played five freshmen a night, and it kind of stinks for the seniors. And I feel sorry for the seniors, but we had a great senior class and they worked hard. Unfortunately, we came up a little short (Friday)."