Video: No. 12 Miami Central @ No. 2 IMG Academy
View images by photographer Mike Janes of this showdown in Florida.
In a game delayed greatly by weather and penalties, it didn't take long for Alabama-bound Trey Sanders
to give second-ranked IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
a hard-fought 24-15 win over 12th-ranked Central (Miami, Fla.).
Sanders, an Alabama commit, gave IMG Academy (3-0) the lead for good 16-15 with a spectacular 65-yard touchdown run with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game. Noah Cain
added a 1-yard TD run and two-point conversion in the final two minutes to secure the win for the host Ascenders in a game that ended just before midnight.
It was delayed by more than 90 minutes because of lightning strikes. More than 30 penalties were also called, delaying the much-anticipated contest further.
Down 9-3 late in the third quarter, IMG Academy took a 10-9 lead on a blocked punt and recovery by Xavier Thomas
in the end zone. Thomas, the nation's No. 3 overall recruit who has committed to Clemson, gave the Ascenders their first lead of the game with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
The lead didn't last long.
Central took the ensuing kickoff and traveled 70 yards, capped with a 43-yard touchdown burst by Willie Davis on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Rockets a 15-10 lead.
But Sanders gave IMG back the lead with a spectacular 65-yard burst around left end. On a draw play, Sanders looked boxed in at the line of scrimmage, but then scooted outside and outraced the fleet Central secondary to give IMG a 16-15 lead.
Both teams missed out on long drives to open the game, before Central's James Cook
scampered around right end on third down for a 22-yard touchdown, giving Central a 6-0 lead with 9:52 left in the half.
An interception by Robert Hicks
after a deflection by Dwayne Boyles
, set up a 34-yard field goal by Angel Lopez
to give Central a 9-0 lead with 4:44 left in the half. IMG closed to 9-3 just before the half on a 24-yard field goal by Aidan Swanson
after Nolan Smith
recovered a fumble on the Central 23.
Like every other team in Florida, Central and IMG had been largely inactive because of Hurricane Irma.
Both teams were coming off big wins over ranked opponents. IMG beat then No. 8 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 40-20 on Sept. 2, and Central went to Las Vegas to defeat defending national champion Bishop Gorman 24-20 on Sept. 8.
Next week, IMG hosts Northwestern (Miami) while Central plays Norland (Miami).