LAKEWOOD RANCH -- It wasn't pretty, and the game didn't count, but it meant everything to a Lakewood Ranch offense that struggled all night.
Trailing all game, Ranch quarterback Chad Rex connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game to give the host Mustangs a 6-5 victory over Brandon on Friday night in a Kickoff Classic.
Lakewood Ranch hurt itself throughout the game and struggled the few times it got inside the red zone until the game-winning drive.
The winning drive started with 5:13 left when the Mustangs took the ball on their own 45 after a punt.
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Rex threw a 14-yard pass to Trevor Losada to give the Mustangs a first down on the Brandon 38. The senior quarterback then ran 17 yards to get the ball down to the 16. On a fourth and 5 from the 11, he hit Losada with the game winner.
Lakewood Ranch head coach Mick Koczersut had planned to play his JV team in the final quarter, but said Brandon didn't bring any JV players so he stuck with his varsity and looked relieved he was able to do that.
"Our offense absolutely needed the work and got to see what we needed to do as coaches to get better," Coach K, as he is known, said. "We left a lot of plays out there. There were things where we needed better mental concentration and we have to get better on that. Defensively, we flew around and got the ball, but we have to do a better job when we get it."
Ranch opened the game with an up-tempo, no-huddle offense and moved the ball until Rex threw an interception, which led to a 37-yard Brandon field goal.
In the second quarter, Rex fumbled the ball in his own end zone and was forced to fall on it for a safety that gave Brandon a 5-0 halftime lead.
Defensive backs Daymon Murray and Wanley Desire were all over the field for the Mustangs and made some big plays.
Desire intercepted a pass that gave Ranch a first down on the Brandon 24, but the Mustangs couldn't punch it in.
Murray returned a punt 25 yards to give Ranch a first down at the Brandon 16 on its next possession, but the Mustangs again failed to score.
Rex completed 10 of 14 passes for 76 yards and an interception and rushed for 79 yards on 15 carries.