ORLANDO, Fla. – Just after the Under Armour Future 50 on Thursday, Team Highlight coach Deion Sanders told the top underclassmen in the country that when it comes to players on the field he doesn’t care about how many stars they’re rated, “I only care about dogs,” a sports term describing a player who gives a supreme effort.
Annoyed by what he deemed to be lack of respect nationally, Maurice Washington, a three-star recruit in the 247 Sports Composite, took Sanders’ queue and unleashed his inner dog just like he said he would.
Washington racked up 159 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Team Highlight past Team Spotlight 23-21 Thursday night in the Under Armour All-America Game at Camping World Stadium.
“I can’t even describe the feeling right now,” said Washington, who led Trinity Christian (Cedar Hill, Texas) to a state title last month. “Coming in to the game I felt like God was telling me that he was gonna do something special for me. I knew this was coming.”
It took him just one quarter to make history, becoming the first player with a rushing and a receiving touchdown in the game’s 10-year history.
Washington’s three touchdowns also broke the record for the most touchdowns in the game’s history. The previous record of two was shared by Amari Cooper (2012) and Jeff Thomas (2017).
Washington was subsequently named MVP of the game.
Quarterback Joey Gatewood, who threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown, was named MVP for Team Spotlight.
“You could tell that he was one of those guys that was gonna show out,” Team Highlight’s Alontae Taylor said. “He just had that chip and that talent and he came out and proved that he was one of the best.”
Team Highlight struck first, turning B.J. Foster’s fumble-forcing hit into a two-play, 35-yard scoring drive, capped off by Washington’s 20-yard touchdown run.
Then with 5:19 left in the first quarter, Washington caught a 27-yard pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to extend the lead 13-0.
Washington opened the second half with a 63-yard kickoff return, which setup his 2-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Team Spotlight finally got on the board on Adrian Martinez’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Slade Jr. with 8:53 left in the third quarter.
After two more scores, Team Spotlight recovered an onside kick with just under two minutes left in regulation, but Team Highlight’s defense held the line to secure the win.
“This was the best game ever,” said Sanders, who coached Washington this season at Trinity Christian. “Maurice has worked so hard and I’ve always told him that would pay off. He deserves it because he’s put in the work.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY