LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Southeast punt wobbled and stopped at the Seminoles 33. There it sat for a few seconds, untouched.
Some say a football game can come down to who wants it more, who’s willing to simply snatch it away.
And because no one from Southeast downed the punt, Lakewood Ranch senior Danny Zarrella plucked the ball off the turf and went in for a 33-yard touchdown.
Host Lakewood Ranch ripped this game from Southeast, stunning the Seminoles in a 20-16 win Friday night.
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The Mustangs ran the ball with might at times, as Mustangs running back Tayrn Laws finished with 104 yards on the ground.
On defense, they crashed through the Seminoles’ line, racking up tackles for losses and sacks by Steven Birakis, Will Pilkington and Brian Scott, who had two.
Lakewood Ranch was 1-9 last year, and now, in the second game of its season has taken down a Manatee County power.
“The whole offensive line really grew up I think,” said Lakewood Ranch coach Shawn Trent.
Trent said much of his team battled a flu bug throughout the week, and sophomore center Alec Jones came off bronchitis.
That line controlled Southeast on the opening drive, as Lakewood Ranch (1-1) cruised downfield on a 13-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a Taryn Laws 15-yard touchdown.
Southeast (1-1) could not get its offense flowing, gaining just 12 yards on the ground. The only spark came on a Boe Brand 80-yard touchdown reception from Dyron Speight late in the third quarter.
But the rest of the Southeast passes skipped off receivers’ hands or were a tad high or a smidgen low.
“We were out of sync,” Southeast coach Paul Maechtle said. “We didn’t tackle, we didn’t block, and we didn’t catch the ball real well.”
Maechtle said those numerous balls that nipped off receivers’ hands, however, were an indication of how close Southeast was to being in sync.
Not that it may have mattered. On this night, Lakewood Ranch took the game away, just as Zarrella scooped the punt off the turf and took it into the end zone to send Southeast reeling.