ORLANDO — Dionte Mullins, playing in his first game this season, snared a one-handed 24-yard touchdown catch, then celebrated by flashing a University of Miami “U” sign.
Mullins’ play is a good example of what all-star games are all about. A few years from now, no one will know or care that Team Highlight rolled to a 27-0 win against Team Armour Saturday in the Under Armour All-America Game at the Citrus Bowl, but that highlight catch will live on.
Unlike most of the players in the game, Mullins played his last real high school game in 2014 as he was academically ineligible this season for Gulliver Prep (Miami).
“People in my hometown they’re not surprised that I catch the ball like that, but that’s the first time I had a catch like that in a game,” Mullins said. “This whole season, I went out and played catch every day with my brother. I’m dedicated to the game. I wasn’t going to give up (because of his ineligibility). It paid off in this game and I’m pretty sure this will pay off at the next level.”
Long Beach Poly quarterback Malik Henry threw a touchdown pass in each half, the first to Eddie McDoom, an Oregon commit from West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.), and the second to Starkville (Miss.) wide receiver A.J. Brown.
Brown became the second player to take part in both the Under Armour All-America Games for baseball and football. He played in the baseball game over the summer at Wrigley Field. The other player was Kyler Murray.
“Our offensive line did a great job blocking, our defense did a good job and everyone had fun out there,” said Henry, who has committed to Florida State.
There were other big plays as well. Mullins’ touchdown was set up when punter Dom Maggio, fearing his kick would be blocked, took off and ran 16 yards for a first down. Three plays later, quarterback Jack Allison of Palmetto, Fla.,, another Miami commit, found Mullins, who speared the pass at the 3-yard line, outleaping defensive back Kristian Fulton of Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) for the ball, then waltzing into the end zone.
Allison had been Mullins’ roommate all week and he told Mullins he would throw him a touchdown pass.
“It was a crazy catch,” Allison said. “Honest to God, it was probably the greatest catch I’ve ever thrown. It’s a glimpse of the future of what’s going to happen the next four years.”
RELATED: Video of Mullins’ TD catch
The first half was all Team Highlight. After a Maggio punt went 52 yards, Team Armour’s Chauncey Gardner (Cocoa, Fla.) fumbled the return and N’Keal Harry (Chandler, Ariz.) recovered it for Team Highlight. One play later, Henry found McDoom for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
The big difference in the game was Team Highlight’s defense. Paramus (N.J.) Catholic defensive end Rashan Gary led the way with six tackles and three sacks. Team Highlight’s defense allowed only 60 yards of total offense through three quarters and 120 total for the game.
“I’m a big believer in when one person picks things up, everyone else will follow,” Gary said. “We just got off the ball and were a little bit faster than the offensive linemen, it was a little easier to make sacks and make plays.”
Gary was named the MVP for his team; defensive tackle Ed Oliver, a Houston commit from Westfield High in Texas, won the postgame award for Team Armour.
Eric Cuffee, an uncommitted defensive back from Waco, Texas, made the strongest interception of the game, ripping a catch away from Hallandale wide receiver Joshua Hammond, who has committed to Florida.