LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Relying on his film study, Thaddeus Johnson saw an opening he could exploit.
Still, he wanted to test it out first.
So when he was given a second chance to block a punt, the Palmetto senior didn't miss.
In fact, Johnson went untouched, smacked the football down toward the turf and scooped it up in the end zone for his first-career touchdown.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-0) didn't need to look back as they captured the pivotal Class 7A-District 11 game, 44-14, over host Lakewood Ranch (1-5 overall, 0-2 district).
"We saw they had two tight (ends), and those two tight on the left, they go and block out," Johnson said. "But No. 24, he blocks inside. So they sent me on the other side to see if I could get the angle right. But then I guess they had someone coming out there, so I switched. I made the switch. I said, 'Coach, I'm going on this side and see if I can work it.' And I got it done."
Johnson's punt block was the second consecutive one Palmetto executed during a 30-point second quarter.
The first one came just 37 seconds into the period when David Belvin and Johnson found their way behind the line of scrimmage. Belvin got his hands to the ball and it squirted into the end zone.
But Johnson couldn't corral it, and it went for a safety.
So when Palmetto's defense stiffened - the Tigers allowed 118 yards of total offense in the first half - to force another punting situation, Johnson made his adjustments.
"He's an extremely intelligent football player," Palmetto head coach Dave Marino said. "He's an extremely intelligent kid. He's a great student. And he carries over with that academic, intellectual ability and that work ethic. He studies in the classroom and he studies video."
Added Johnson: "I went outside and when I saw him pursue outside to me, I gave him a head stick and went back inside and blocked it."
The play came with 7:50 remaining in the third quarter and it wasn't something that shocked Marino.
"He does it all the time against us," Marino said. "It gives us nightmares, because we're like, 'Is this going to happen against us in a game?' Because he makes it look easy. He's so explosive off the edge and times it up."
While the special teams unit was blocking punts, Palmetto's offense kept chugging. Running back Octavious James finished with three touchdowns and 68 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Miami-bound Jack Allison was razor sharp in the passing game, picking apart the Mustangs' secondary by completing 68 percent of his passes. He also tossed two touchdowns and connected with six different receivers among his 17 completions.
Meanwhile, Lakewood Ranch's scores came at the end of the first half and in the third quarter. The first touchdown came on a hook-n-ladder play from quarterback Justin Curtis to wide receiver Clark Cadet, who pitched the ball back to Davion Thomas.
It covered 71 yards, while running back J.T. Fischer tallied a 72-yard rushing score in the third quarter.
Fischer finished with a game-high 129 rushing yards.
Both Palmetto and Lakewood Ranch are on byes next week.