LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch head coach Shawn Trent knew coming into Friday's home game that his team would have to be nearly flawless to get a win.
"To beat a big physical team like (Sarasota) Riverview, you have to be on top of your game and healthy," Trent said. "We were neither (Friday)."
Lakewood Ranch (4-4), missing some key players due to injury, gave up 229 yards on 27 carries in a 27-10 loss against the Rams (5-2).
"They just beat us up on the front line," Trent said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Riverview's Oshea Grant scored on a 4-yard run to arm the Rams with a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Mustangs kicker Hunter Kate connected on a 24-yard field goal, giving Lakewood Ranch its first points of the game.
After forcing a Rams three-and-out to start the third quarter, the Mustangs ate up about seven minutes off the clock before quarterback Chad Rex threw a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The beautiful scramble and throw gave Lakewood Ranch a 10-7 lead over Riverview with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
That would be the last time the Mustangs would get on the scoreboard.
"We had key guys hurt, so we weren't able to do what we wanted and had to take chances in situations we normally wouldn't," Trent said.
Riverview senior quarterback Richie James marched his offense down the field within two minutes before scoring on a 1-yard run.
James piled up 210 total yards, two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.
"He has the ability to throw and run," Rams head coach Todd Johnson said. "James gives us a great balance on offense."
With 8:57 left in the fourth quarter, James burst up the middle and scored on a 51-yard run giving the Rams a 20-10 edge.
After the Mustangs didn't convert on a fake punt with 7:45 left in the fourth period, James iced the game with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Lex Sayre.
Lakewood Ranch travels to Sarasota to face the Sailors in a pivotal Class 7A-District 10 matchup between two 2-1 district teams.
A Mustangs victory sends the club into the postseason.