SARASOTA -- Lakewood Ranch head coach Mick Koczersut looked at Friday's Kickoff Classic against Sarasota Riverview as a possible chance for either Grant Weisman or Justin Curtis to take hold of the starting quarterback position they've been battling over since fall practice began earlier this month.
After the 20-14 defeat at the Ram Bowl, Koczersut wasn't given a clear answer from either player.
"Right now, I'm waiting for one of them to show me they should be the starter," Koczersut said.
The Mustangs fell behind the Rams, 20-0, before giving themselves a chance at victory in the closing minutes.
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Down six with roughly two minutes remaining, Curtis entered for the final offensive series needing 57 yards for a potential game-winning drive.
Like most of the game for the Mustangs' two signal-callers, Curtis's four heaves -- his only passes in the game -- went incomplete.
Combined with Weisman, the two completed 2 of 13 passes for 9 yards and an interception.
"We, obviously, have to get better in our passing game," Koczersut said. "From a completion standpoint,
we didn't complete much of anything."
Still, Riverview head coach Todd Johnson said his team was fortunate to escape with a victory.
"You can't shoot yourself in the foot and give them 30, 40 yards on a drive and expect to win a football game," Johnson said.
Both teams slugged it out on the ground with Riverview tallying 166 rushing yards and Ranch mustering 143.
The Mustangs combo of J.T. Fischer and Darren Lowery produced both Ranch touchdowns with Lowery covering 29 yards on a rumble to paydirt late in the third quarter to cut the deficit to six.
That scoring drive came on the heels of senior defensive lineman Cameron Koehler's pivotal fourth-down tackle of Riverview quarterback Dominic Caldwell after Koehler flushed Caldwell from the pocket and drove him to the ground just 4 yards shy of the first down.
"It's huge, but that's something we've been working on and I like to see it happen in a real situation versus at practice," Koczersut said.
The Mustangs also received back-to-back defensive stops from senior defensive lineman Roberto Valls and senior defensive back Branden Pratt in the fourth quarter that stymied a potential scoring drive for the Rams.
That kept it a one-score game for Ranch to win in the closing minutes.
However, neither Weisman nor Curtis could string completions together in the crucial moments.
The preseason tilt didn't hurt Lakewood Ranch's record, which begins at 0-0 next week when the Mustangs open against Tampa Jesuit.
"This game was for us to find out what we need to get our kids better at," Koczersut said. "And what we need to game plan better at. And we'll start doing that next week."
Rams 20, Mustangs 14
Lakewood Ranch 0 7 7 0--14
Sarasota Riverview 13 7 0 0--20
Score by quarter
R - Aeron Green 1 run (Mika Kushnitzky kick), 7:55
R - Jacon Wong 7 pass from Dominic Caldwell (Kick failed), 0:5.9
R - Ali Boyce 1 run (Kushnitzky kick), 5:12
LR - J.T. Fischer 4 run (Tommy Wolfe kick), 2:32
LR - Darren Lowery 29 run (Wolfe kick), 2:58