No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
dominated from start to finish and beat Bishop Sycamore (Columbus, Ohio)
58-0 Sunday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the final game of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff showcase. Senior Florida State commit AJ Duffy
connected with four-star junior wide receiver Carnell Tate
on the first two touchdowns of the game — with one being a sensational one-handed snag — to take a 14-0 lead with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
After IMG's defense forced a three-and-out Penn State-bound running back Kaytron Allen
capped off a 4-play, 44-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to take a 21-0 lead with 3:47 left in the first.
Lightning struck after the Allen score and after an hour-plus delay the Ascenders picked up right where they left off.
The Ascenders posted 23 points before the Centurions picked up a first down.
Senior Northwestern commit
recorded his first of two interceptions on the first play of the second quarter and Allen dominated on the ensuing drive. The four-star running back accounted for all seven plays rushing for 54 yards and scampered in from one yard out to take a 30-0 lead with 8:52 left in the second quarter.
The future Nittany Lion finished the afternoon with 16 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Illinois-bound wide receiver Shawn Miller
added a one-yard touchdown run before halftime to give the second-ranked Ascenders a 37-0 lead after 24 minutes.
With a running clock to start the second half, four-star sophomore running back Stacy Gage
scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown for the only points of the third quarter giving IMG Academy a 44-0 lead.
The second-rated prospect in the Class of 2024 on 247Sports —
— intercepted a pass and set up another Gage touchdown run, from 13-yards out, to make it 51-0 with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior Michigan State commit Ade Willie
accounted for the final score of the night with a 41-yard pick-six.
The game could not of gone any better for Pepper Johnson in his debut as head coach for IMG Academy. After spending a year as the defensive coordinator last season, he took over as head coach when Bobby Acosta took the same position at Del Valle (Texas).
The Ascenders entered Sunday's game with a whooping 29 players rated as a three-star recruit or higher and showed why they will be in the mix to repeat as MaxPreps National Champs in 2021. The team ranked ahead is Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), which rolled into Texas and beat Duncanville (Texas) 45-3 in a one-sided affair.
IMG Academy faces some stronger opponents in the coming weeks as La Salle (Cincinnati) is up next on Sept. 3 followed by Northwestern (Miami) on Sept. 10, Jones (Orlando) on Sept. 17, East St. Louis (Ill.) on Oct. 22. IMG closes the season Nov. 19 against St. Frances Academy (Baltimore).