Leto couldn't have scheduled a tougher homecoming opponent than Sarasota Riverview, as the Rams lived up to their No. 2 state ranking in Class 6A with a 28-10 victory over the Falcons Friday night.
In the first half, Riverview turned back the clock to the 1970s, as senior fullback James "Disco" Mills danced his way to 74 of his team-high 81 yards and two scores to give the Rams a 14-10 halftime lead.
But Leto stayed alive on the strength of former Ram Ray Fletcher's game-high 139 yards and a touchdown. Fletcher, who opened the game with a 69-yard scamper down the near sideline, scored from 49 yards out on the first play of the second quarter.
"He's a good player and he hurt us early," said Riverview coach John Sprague of Fletcher, whose step-brother Dylan Delorey is a Ram linebacker.
With 12 seconds left in the opening half, Riverview senior quarterback Greg Hill, who finished with 140 yards passing on just four completions, found Derrick Timmons at the 10-yard line. But instead of attempting a field goal, the Rams (8-0) went for the touchdown and had the pass deflected at the goal line to end the half.
The Falcons would remain within three points of Riverview until the 9:21 mark of the fourth quarter. That's when 5-foot-7, 238-pound Carlton Boyce scored the third 1-yard touchdown of the night for the Rams. The score came following a Mills fumble on the opening play of the second half. Senior Mike Diaz recovered at the Falcon 27, but a Leto drive that ate up most the second part of the third quarter, stalled at the Riverview 5-yard line when the Falcons failed to convert a fourth-and-inches.
Leto, which only allowed 77 points all season entering the game, gave up the final score after quarterback Jesse Lowery fumbled the exchange on a handoff. Five plays later, Hill went 18 yards on a keeper to cap the victory.
"Our defense came alive and got the turnovers in the second half," Sprague said. "(Hill) played his best game and never missed an audible. I have to confess, I got real conservative because they weren't stopping what we were doing."
The Falcons (5-3) also suffered another loss as starting fullback Ed Miller, who rushed six times for 23 yards, broke his ankle on his final carry of the second quarter.
"They are one of the best football programs in the state," Leto coach Alex Albert said. "We enjoyed playing them, but they were just too damn strong."