DURANT — With a playoff berth on the line Monday night, Durant didn't waste any time making its point.
The Cougars' first offensive play from scrimmage in the deciding one-quarter tiebreaker against Riverview even fooled Durant coach Mike Gottman.
That's when Durant sophomore quarterback Je'Twan Smith pulled back a handoff and jetted 58 yards to set up the game's only touchdown in a 10-0 win over the resilient Sharks that clinched the Cougars' first playoff berth since 2003.
"I thought he was going the other way with the play," Gottman said. "All of a sudden I just saw him going down the field. … It all boiled down to this and the kids played hard and we got the win.
With the win, the Cougars (5-4, 1-2) earned the Class 6A-6 district runnerup spot and a trip to Orlando to face Dr. Phillips (8-1) in the region quarterfinals in two weeks.
Smith's run was the key play in a seven-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard plunge by Smith. Cougars defensive back Royce Easley then recovered a Riverview fumble on the ensuing kickoff, which led to Connor Bass' 37-yard field goal to seal the win.
"To get that first score and you get over the hump early on, that's huge," Gottman said. "In a shootout like this, with just one quarter, you have to take advantage of your opportunities."
Riverview (1-8, 1-2) emerged from the first tiebreaker after it defeated Sarasota 3-0, led by junior tailback Ronnie Johnson's 58 rushing yards on 12 carries.
The Sharks scored the quarter's only points on Alex O'Regan's 20-yard field goal with 3:27 remaining, a score that capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive that included 33 rushing yards by Johnson.
Riverview sealed its victory when defensive back Willie Timmons intercepted Sarasota's Sean Hurley with 2:23 remaining. The Sharks were able to run out the clock after Johnson converted a critical fourth-and-2 at the Sarasota 18-yard line.