BRADENTON – When the clock read all zeroes in the fourth quarter it was pandemonium on the IMG sideline. Shea Patterson’s final scramble – a Johnny Manziel-esque weave up into traffic and back out too safety – let him connect with Drake Davis in the front right corner of the end zone where Ascenders players sprinted to meet their new wide receiver who had they thought had just scored a game-winning touchdown against Plantation American Heritage.
Back at the 25-yard line, someone finally noticed, there was a flag. Offensive holding was the call and the ball went back 10 yards. So now Patterson needed one more scramble and this desperation heave didn’t go far enough as he fell to the IMG Academy Stadium grass and Nick Eubanks plucked it out of the air for a game-sealing pick six.
Now the clock really read all zeroes and American Heritage had defeated IMG, ranked No. 2 nationally by USA Today, 19-7 in a kickoff classic late Saturday night.
American Heritage’s defense held its own against IMG quarterback Shea Patterson, considered the best in the country by 247sports’ composite rankings, in the first half. Patterson completed 10 of 15 passes but for only 59 yards.
Patterson finished with 218 yards on 18-of-33 passing.
His legs became important because the Patriots’ overwhelming pass rush against the Ascenders’ inexperienced offensive line. The star of that defensive front is Brian Burns, a four-star end with interest from all the traditional Southeastern powers. His grandfather died earlier this week and Heritage didn’t know whether Burns would make the trip to Bradenton until Friday.
He had Patterson on the run during nearly every play and cornerbacks Patrick Surtain Jr. and Will Allen – the sons of the former NFL corners with the same names – kept the Ascenders’ wideouts from running free.
The game was a true defensive struggle for most of the 48 minutes – Eubanks caught a touchdown on American Heritage’s first drive and the Patriots didn’t score again until the fourth quarter – and Burns knew it. The win was sealed with a last-minute stop and Heritage earned bragging rights in one of Florida’s highest-profile games this year.
“As he came into the locker room the excitement was there,” American Heritage coach Mike Rumph said. “I think he played a good game, but I think his energy and how he spoke to the team at halftime is what made the team uplifted.”
Plantation American Heritage 19, IMG 7
American Heritage 7 0 0 12 - 19
IMG 0 0 7 0 - 7
AHS – Nick Eubanks 5 pass from Jason Brown (Oren Millstein kick) (6:52)
IMG – Shea Patterson 5 run (Ricky Aguayo kick) (6:17)
AHS – Brandon Johnson 44 catch from Jason Brown (XP blocked) (10:48)
AHS – Eubanks 90 interception (0:00)