It can be said that some people leave home and never look back.
Others can go a long time without thinking about what they left behind, only to one day return, wise in the ways of the world.
Then there are those who will only bask in the safety of the friendly confines they have constructed around themselves.
For the Lakewood Ranch Mustangs, who won both their preseason and first game of the season against the backdrop of a rabid, enthusiastic fan base, going into enemy territory for the first time proved to be a bruising experience as they were blanked by Southeast 28-0.
After last week’s euphoric victory over Braden River, the Mustangs found themselves humbled early in the game against the Seminoles, who were 1-2 in their three previous meetings.
It didn’t help that the Mustangs were without starting quarterback Reggie Lindsey, who broke his wrist last week and is expected to miss the next six weeks. What’s more, last week’s hero, junior quarterback Jeren Kowalewski, sustained a ribcage injury when he took a hard hit to his back in the first half against the Seminoles.
Looking for options, coach Shawn Trent got creative and tapped running back Taryn Laws for quarterback duty. Taking snaps for the first time this season, Laws did all he could to help his team, executing shovel passes and running in plays on his own.
“Southeast knew we were down to a running game,” said Laws, who went 1-of-6 for 25 yards as quarterback. “We did the best we could given the circumstances. We tried to get creative, but their defense stifled our drives at every turn.”
Without an effective passing game, the Mustangs realized they were not dealing from strength. The Seminoles, smelling blood, smothered Lakewood’s weakened offense, which was limited to 101 rushing yards and 62 yards passing on the night. Laws was limited to just 37 yards on 33 carries.
“Losing Kowalewski hurt us — no question there,” Trent said. “At this point, I really have no idea who will be quarterbacking for us next week. You don’t anticipate things like this happening so early, but we have to adjust and be ready for next week.”
Southeast scored all 28 points in the first half. The fact that the Seminoles failed to add to that score in the third and fourth quarters was a testament to the Mustangs defense, which showed grit and determination after struggling in the first half.
Defense however, is only half the equation. With Lindsey and Kowalewski unavailable to lead the offense, the Mustangs were never in a position to mount any significant drives.
The Mustangs will look to get back to their winning ways Friday night when they return home to face East Lee County. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
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