LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The only thing that could stop the Lakewood Ranch football team was a lighting delay, and that lasted only 30 minutes.
Southeast couldn't do it, and the Seminoles fell 55-34 to the host Mustangs on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
It has been a long time since Southeast surrendered that many points under head coach Paul Maechtle, who has been recognized as one of the best football coaches in the state during his 33-year career.
But Maechtle was concerned about Ranch quarterback Chad Rex, and the junior showed why those fears were justified.
The junior scored five touchdowns and rushed for 130 yards, continually breaking tackles or juking his way past Southeast defenders either for a big run or a pass. He threw two touchdown passes and connected on 11 of 15 attempts for 176 yards.
"It was a big thing for us to win because everyone projected us to lose, and we wanted to make a statement," Rex said. "It's the first time I scored that many touchdowns in a game. They ran the same defense as last year, and we changed things up. We are out of a shotgun now, and we use some motion. It was important to get the running game going because it helped set things up."
Southeast looked as if it was in for a big night when it scored on its first two possessions of the game. Courtney Allen scored on a three-yard run that he set up with a 56-yard scamper on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Southeast blew a chance to score again when quarterback Jack Shinn lost the ball on a quarterback exchange. Ranch was hemmed deep in its own territory, and an errant snap went over Rex's head. Greg Johnson recovered in the end zone for a 13-0 Southeast lead.
Lakewood Ranch answered with three straight touchdowns by Rex on runs of 25, 3 and 2 yards. Shinn scored on a four-yard run with 5:43 left in the first half, and the Mustangs took a 21-20 lead into the break,
Allen, who ran for 177 yards against Lakewood Ranch last year in Southeast's 12-7 victory, had 190 yards on 17 carries. Shinn completed 8 of 12 passes for 120 yards.
"I don't care how many yards Allen got as long as we won," Ranch
head coach Shawn Trent said. "Chad is a great kid. I wish he would get down sometimes and not take all the hits that he takes, but as long as he keeps getting up, it's all good. Offensively we have a lot of weapons. I don't know that we have one superstar, but we have five or six kids who are pretty solid."
Cameron Pearcey caught five passes for 96 yards, including a five-yard TD reception. Justin Fischer picked up 86 yards rushing on only six carries, and A'Shawn Angel picked up yardage against a tired Southeast defense in the final stages had 74 yards in 16 carries.
The game was tied at 27 when Ranch scored four straight touchdowns to break the game open. That included a five-yard pass from Angel to Branden Hadley, who caught four passes for 74 yards.