Lakewood Ranch High junior quarterback Chad Rex didn’t know what it was like to beat Southeast.
Rex was in eighth grade the last time the Mustangs beat the Seminoles. His senior teammates were freshmen — the vast majority of which didn’t suit up on varsity until well after the dust had settled.
The Mustangs were hoping this year would be different. They wanted to make a statement.
Trailing 13-0 midway through the first quarter, Rex and the Mustangs found their legs. Lakewood’s ability to run the football, mixed with some timely catches by wide receivers Cameron Pearcey and Brendan Hadley, proved to be the key for the Mustangs, who cruised to a 55-34 victory over Southeast in their season opener tonight.
“It was a big (win),” Rex says. “Everyone projected us to lose, and we wanted to make a statement.”
After giving up a pair of touchdowns to Southeast in the first quarter, Rex scored on runs of 20 yards, 2 yards and 1 yard to give Lakewood a 21-20 lead heading into the locker room.
“That was the big scare,” coach Shawn Trent says of trailing early on. “To be able to battle back with this young of a team going down 13-0 to Southeast shows a lot. With as young as we are, for that many kids to battle back and keep fighting, it was pretty big.”
After a 30-minute lightning delay, Rex punched the ball in from a yard out on the Mustangs' opening drive of the third quarter.
“It was good (to get the running game going) because we wanted to get a good night, so we can keep going during the season,” Rex says. “
Southeast responded with a touchdown of its own to tie the game at 27-27.
Rex connected with Pearcey on the Mustangs' ensuing drive to take a 33-27 lead with 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs' defense opened the fourth quarter with a safety; and Wyatt McLeod scored on a 7-yard touchdown to give Lakewood a 42-27 lead.
Brandon Luckett threw a 9-yard touchdown to Hadley on a reverse, and Rex added a 2-yard touchdown run for Lakewood’s final points of the night.
“Offensively, we’ve a lot of offense weapons,” Trent says. “I don’t know that we have one superstar, but four, five or six kids who are pretty solid football players on offense and being able to move the ball around and do different things helps.”
Lakewood returns to action Sept. 6 at Tampa Jesuit.