Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rams Make Stand, Take Hold of Sailors

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rams Make Stand, Take Hold of Sailors

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

CROSSTOWN RIVALRY: Last- second, goal line stand gives Riverview victory

If a win in the Riverview-Sarasota game makes an entire season a success, then consider Todd Johnson a made man.

The Rams, somehow awakening from the ashes of a 1-6 season, gave their beleaguered second-year head coach the effort of a lifetime Friday night -- a last-second, goal-line stand that preserved a 28- 24 victory over Sarasota High at Ihrig Field in the 54th meeting between the city's biggest rivals.

Hunter DeWitt's fourth-and-3 swing pass to tailback Rod Tullis fell incomplete, after the Sailors (3-5) had driven from Riverview's 40-yard line to the 4 in the game's final 2:36.

Even if Tullis had made the catch, getting to the first down marker or the end zone would have been problematic, with Riverview junior linebacker Vince Gordon closing fast.

"I was praying," said Rams quarterback Dominic Marino, whose touchdown tosses to Lex Sayre (20 yards) and Richie James (30 yards) were part of a 10-of-16, 124-yard passing effort. "(Sarasota) ran that same play about 10 times. Our defense covered it well when it mattered, that's all we had to do."

Added Gordon: "I would've made the play. I just knew I had to get (Tullis) down.

"We just believed. It was all about how much this game means to us. It means everything."

No more downtrodden side has won in what once was Sarasota's Thanksgiving morning tradition.

"It was these kids, not me," said Johnson, admiring the celebration from a safe distance with his nearly 3-year-old daughter, Lyla, on his shoulders. "We've got some character kids, especially some of our underclassmen, who have not given up all season on themselves or this team.

"Those guys have been leading us and driving us to believe, even when nobody else did."

The rivals, who met for the first time in 1960, now stand 27-27 on the field. …

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