LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Winning the turnover battle is usually a recipe for winning the game.
That's precisely what Lakewood Ranch did in Friday's spring game against Naples Lely as the Mustangs scored three touchdowns off three turnovers en route to a 21-0 victory.
Lely committed five turnovers for the game.
"I was real happy with the defense," Mustangs head coach Shawn Trent said. "They ran to the ball probably as well as we ever have and created
Never miss a local story.
a lot of turnovers. ... If you can do that, you're going to win a lot of games."
The two squads used essentially junior varsity players in the first quarter, before switching to the varsity guys for the last three periods.
There also weren't any fielding of punts nor rushing on extra point attempts, nor were there any kickoffs.
Each team began the half or following a score on its own 25-yard line.
Once the varsity players took over, it was Lakewood Ranch making an immediate statement.
First, the Mustangs defense dominated the Trojans.
Ty McLeod, a rising senior linebacker, came away with an interception that set up rising junior quarterback Chad Rex's 52-yard completion to wide receiver Cameron Pearcey.
Pearcey, a rising junior, was tackled at the Lely 10, and Rex later scampered in untouched on a 4th-and-goal play from 3 yards out for the opening score.
It came with 8 minutes, 4 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Rex later found Pearcey for a 37-yard strike to set up Wyatt McLeod's 1-yard touchdown plunge just 26 seconds later, after the Mustangs recovered a Lely fumble.
"Chad did a good job," Trent said. "He made some mistakes, and that's going to happen. He's still young. Between him and Wyatt, there's a lot of stuff you can do with those two kids."
And in the fourth quarter, the Trojans had a long drive halted when yet another fumble enabled Ranch to cash in on a short field, which it did with Rex's 8-yard touchdown pass to rising senior wide receiver John Handy with 3:43 left to play.
"I thought the effort was pretty good, but I thought our execution was poor," Lely head coach Stacey Stewart said. "One block missed here, one tackle missed there, one missed contain, and that was all it took."
The victory gives the Mustangs momentum heading into the summer, and it was thanks in part to a defensive unit that kept the Trojans off the scoreboard.
Trent pointed to Ty McLeod, Max VonDerHofen and Allen Remedor, Wanley Desir and James Jeffcoat as standouts on the defense in Friday's victory.