Clayton Dees dropped back and launched a pass down the sideline.
The Palmetto quarterback’s intended target, Dylan Wester, created some separation behind Sarasota Riverview’s defense.
The ball, though, carried through the air a tad too far.
Had he been hit in stride, it was a touchdown for the Tigers on their opening drive in Friday’s Class 4S-Region 4 quarterfinal at John Sprague Field at the Ram Bowl.
Instead, it was an early misstep in a game the Tigers (5-5) needed to play near perfection against a team they couldn’t stop defensively.
Riverview smashed its ground game through Palmetto’s defense en route to a 49-20 victory.
“We knew our margin for error was going to be thin,” Palmetto head coach Rashad West said. “We knew we had to capitalize every chance. We had an opportunity, we just missed those things early. And we just didn’t get any extra possessions.”
The Rams travel to Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium next Friday to play Manatee in the region semifinals.
Manatee blanked Punta Gorda Charlotte, 38-20, to advance in the 4S-4 playoffs. The Hurricanes were the only county school to win Friday. Venice ended Lakewood Ranch’s season and Parrish Community’s first playoff appearance ended in Naples.
In Sarasota, the Tigers struggled could not stop Riverview’s offense. The Rams carved through Palmetto on their first possession in four plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Rams covered 63 yards, all via running plays, on the drive.
They doubled the lead in three plays on their next possession.
“We knew that’d be their M.O., hold the ball, run the ball against us (and) try to keep us off the field offensively,” West said.
It was the second meeting between the teams this season. In September, the two combined to score 94 points in a shootout. The Rams tallied 363 rushing yards in that 52-42 win.
On Friday, Riverview continued its ground and pound philosophy. The Rams didn’t punt until their second-to-last possession. By that point, they had enacted a running clock.
The Rams finished with 340 rushing yards.
Palmetto’s Jamari Parker had a 13-yard rushing touchdown, Rok Lodge had a 70-yard touchdown reception and Da’mari Magwood had a 37-yard touchdown reception to account for the Tigers’ scoring.
Here’s a look at the rest of the playoff games with scores below:
Manatee 38, Punta Gorda Charlotte 0
Sarasota Riverview 49, Palmetto 20
Venice 53, Lakewood Ranch 6
Naples 42, Parrish Community 0
Saint Stephen’s vs. Mount Dora Christian Academy (Saturday)
Swipe below for scores involving Bradenton-area programs: