LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A couple of big offensive plays mixed with a punishing defense served as Lakewood Ranch's recipe for victory in Friday's non-district game against Bayshore.
The Mustangs (2-1) used a power running game highlighted by J.T. Fischer's explosive effort in downing the Bruins 22-7.
Ranch gained 249 yards on the ground, with Fischer leading the charge. The junior tailback racked up 217 rushing yards on 22 carries, which included a 74-yard touchdown run to arm the Mustangs with a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"Overall offensively, we have to get better at things," Mustangs head coach Mick Koczersut said. "... J.T. was able to run that, break that big one for us which helped out."
Fischer's big game didn't stop after the 74-yard touchdown run, where he ran down the left sideline before cutting his way through Bayshore's defense as he switched to the other side of the field.
Fischer peeled off a 34-yard run on his next carry, his third run of 20-plus yards in Ranch's first offensive possession of the second half.
While the Mustangs offense relied on Fischer's explosive playmaking, their defense was stout against the Bruins (0-3).
Ranch limited Bayshore to just 78 yards of total offense, with just 11 coming via the air.
"Thank goodness we played well defensively," Koczersut said. "They did a heck of a job. They had a great game plan, they did a lot of good things very well (Friday) on defense."
Koczersut said they rotated eight defensive lineman into the game with defensive back Cody Hendrickson, linebacker Wanley Desir and linebacker Zach Ben-Ghuzzi aiding the effort.
The Bruins were without starting quarterback Cody Linderman, who suffered a knee injury in practice earlier this week.
"We really had to work hard with our backup quarterback Dylan (Bresciani) and then we also brought in Jamar (Johnson), who is our starting tailback, and had him take some snaps at quarterback," Freeman said. "All of that affects the team, but we've got to figure it out."
Ranch capitalized in Linderman's absence with a mauling defense that limited the Bruins to just eight first downs.
Bayshore found a bright spot in senior Jade Hynal, who intercepted Ranch quarterback Chad Rex in the Mustangs' opening drive of the game. It was Hynal's second consecutive game with a pick.
Hynal also blocked a punt, scooped it up and ran it in from 3-yards out with 9:30 remaining in the game.
That play cut the deficit down to 22-7, but the Bruins offense was stagnant on their final two possessions.
Both teams their attention to district openers with the Mustangs hosting East Manatee rival Braden River and the Bruins heading to Southeast.