LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The names and faces were different, but it was the same result for the Lakewood Ranch football team: Another win over archrival Braden River.
Riding the speed and athleticism of a freshman running back and sophomore quarterback, Lakewood Ranch broke off two big runs in the second half to earn a 21-7 victory over the Pirates on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
As expected, the game was deadlocked at 7 when freshman Ashawn Angel entered the game in the last three minutes of the third quarter.
On the third carry of his high school career, Angel broke free on a 50-yard touchdown run to give Lakewood Ranch a 14-7 lead with 1:03 left in the third period.
The Pirates looked a little dazed and perhaps tired, and K.J. Brown intercepted an Eric Schappacher pass to give the ball right back to the Mustangs.
Lakewood Ranch drove to the Braden River 20, but gave up the ball when sophomore quarterback Chad Rex was sacked twice.
The Mustangs got it right back after Braden River went three and out, and three plays later Rex broke loose on a 53-yard scamper to seal the game and give Lakewood Ranch a 21-7 lead with 3:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"For us being as young as we are the kids played hard and it kind of came together in the end," Lakewood Ranch head coach Shawn Trent said. "We got rid of some of the little mistakes we made last week. I am proud of the kids. Angel still has a lot to learn. He made some mistakes. They (Chris Pearcey and Angel) are both going to
be good backs."
Pearcey started the game and softened up the Pirates' defense with his hard running. On the opening drive of the game, the Mustangs went 78 yards on 14 plays and scored on a two-yard run by Rex.
Pearcey did the bulk of the work in the drive. The junior carried the ball eight times for 45 yards and at one point had six straight carries.
"We have two good running backs," Rex said. "In the last quarter, they said we needed one more touchdown to end it all. We all talked to each other, and our line blocked everyone, and we came out on top. We are young team, but we have a lot of fight and don't stop until the whistle blows."
Lakewood Ranch dominated the stats in the first half with 11 first downs and 160 yards compared to 52 yards total offense and four first downs for Braden River but the game was tied at 7 at intermission.
Braden River put together its only sustained drive in the second quarter when the Pirates drove 52 yards on 14 plays with Schappacher scoring from two yards out. The big play in the drive was a 24-yard pass from Schappacher to Erik Ross.
Braden River struggled on offense all night and finished with only 31 yards rushing. The Pirates lost starting running back Austin Rain early in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
"They played hard up front, came off the ball hard and we got caught off guard," said Braden River first year coach Curt Bradley. "We made some good things happen in the second half, but couldn't bust that big play that we needed. We had a little busted assignment there (on Angel TD), and he kind of slipped through the back door on us and made a couple of people miss.
"There is a learning experience as far as learning how to overcome adversity, and I think we can take that from this game. We have a lot of kids who haven't had a lot of success in football and we need to get them to understand a seven point deficit doesn't mean the game is over."
Pearcey and Angel both finished with 73 yards each rushing on 16 and nine carries respectively. Schappacher threw for 128 yards to spark the Pirates offense and Breyon Pittman caught four passes for 44 yards.