No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) faced one of its toughest tests of the season when it visited Hoover (Ala.) Friday night. After jumping out to a big lead, the Ascenders were able to hang on against the resilient hosts in a 32-21 victory.
IMG improved to 7-0 with the victory.
Five-star running back Noah Cain capped the Ascenders’ opening drive with a 15-yard TD run, and it was 6-0 after a missed PAT. A field goal late in the first quarter made it 9-0.
Late in the first half, Michigan commit and IMG junior linebacker Charles Thomas intercepted a pass and went 70 yards to the Hoover 3 yard line. Running back Trey Sanders, a 2019 Alabama commit, found the end zone on the next play, and the PAT made it 16-0.
A 38-yard TD pass from IMG quarterback Zack Annexstad (a Minnesota commit) to Jermaine Burton a couple minutes later made it 23-0, and that score held until halftime. IMG had outgained the host Buccaneers 261-84 in the first half.
Hoover didn’t go down without a fight, though. George Pickens, an Auburn commit, made four catches on a drive midway through the third quarter, the fourth being a 2-yard TD reception to cut the deficit to 23-7.
After Brendan Radley-Hiles returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards, though, Sanders plunged in for the score that increased the lead to 30-7.
Hoover cut the lead to 32-21 with 4:12 to play, but that was as close as the Bucs got.
The Ascenders host Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.) next Saturday.