IMG Academy left no doubt against Miramar on national TV Sunday afternoon and proved it is the real deal.
Fueled by last week’s loss on a questionable call against state powerhouse Plantation American Heritage, IMG came out ready to make a resounding statement.
Ascenders speedster Drake Davis took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and IMG never looked back. The Ascenders induced a running clock by halftime and rolled over Miramar, the 13th-ranked team in the state, 38-14.
Last week, Miramar’s defense held Hialeah American to less than 100 yards of total offense. But the Patriots hadn’t faced a talent like IMG quarterback Shea Patterson, and it showed.
Never miss a local story.
The No.1 quarterback in America, according to Rivals.com, put the Patriots defense on its heels the entire game. Patterson went 15 of 23 for 179 yards and three TDs to three receivers.
“We were just clicking on all cylinders [Sunday],” Patterson said. “After a tough call like that last week, it was definitely motivation for us to come out and prove ourselves this game. Their defense was definitely weaker over the field, so we attacked them there. Our tight ends hit their spots and that opened up our wideouts on the outside. We exploited their defense.”
IMG’s ultra-talented defense was without five-star senior prospects Shavar Manuel and Saivion Smith last week. This time around, the 18th-ranked Ascenders defense was fully loaded and terrorized Miramar’s offense.
IMG’s defense was lights out. It turned Miramar over on downs four times, recorded multiple tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions. Four-star defensive end Malik Barrow led the way with three tackles for loss and a key interception.
After Davis opened up the game with a touchdown, the Ascenders proceeded to put up 28 points in the first quarter. Early in the first, Patterson evaded pressure, rolled to his left and lofted a 45-yard strike to a wide-open Kerrick Hahn for the score to make it 14-0.
Down 38-0 at the half, Miramar managed to score 14 points in the second half. Miramar’s Brian Edwards notched a pick-six, and Davon Kendrick registered a 10-yard TD run. The Patriots outgained the Ascenders 274-217 in total yards.
But IMG’s stout defense limited Miramar’s primary playmaker, Gregori McCrae, to just 65 total yards.
▪ Plantation American Heritage 36, Stephenson (Ga.) 8: For the second week in a row, Plantation American Heritage ended the game with an interception.
Only this time, the game wasn’t on the line, as the top-ranked Patriots made easy work of Stephenson, coasting to the victory late Saturday in a Battle of the Borders showdown in Atlanta.
The Patriots (2-0) led the entire game and nearly earned a shutout.
A mishandled snap in the punting game forced the Patriots to take a safety in the second quarter, and they let Stephenson’s Antonio Woods slip through for a 45-touchdown run.
But other than that, the Patriots dominated. Brian Burns had a pair of sacks and the defense held Stephenson starting quarterback Xavier Sheppard to 3-of-18 passing for 26 yards and three interceptions.
Jarius Stewart ended the game by collecting the team’s fourth interception of the Jaguars’ backup.
The Patriots looked in control from the start, forcing the Jaguars (1-1) into a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, then scoring on their ensuing possession — a six-play, 41-yard drive capped by Jason Brown’s 1-yard run.
Early in the second quarter, the Patriots built their lead when Brown connected with Laress Nelson on a 19-yard touchdown.
It looked as though the Patriots would take a shutout into halftime, but Stephenson was the beneficiary of a bad punt snap that punter Zack Thomaston was forced to punch out of the end zone before a Jaguars defender got to him.
The Jaguars’ next possession ended in a Tyson Campbell 61-yard interception return for a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the half, giving the Patriots a 19-2 lead.
AMER. HERITAGE 36,
STEPHENSON (GA.) 8
AH – Jason Brown 1 run (kick failed)
AH – Laress Nelson 19 from Brown (Oren Milstein kick)
STE - Team safety
AH – Tyson Campbell 61 INT return (pass failed)
AH – Khalil Herbert 2 run (Milstein kick)
AH – Olsten 35 FG
STE – Antonio Woods 45 run (kick failed)
AH – Herbert 12 run (Milstein kick)