No. 2 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) ran its winning streak to 30 games with a 27-14 victory against No. 7 Chandler (Ariz.) in the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff on Saturday.
Running back Trey Sanders had seven carries for 143 yards, including an 89-yard score that gave IMG a 27-7 lead with 11:29 remaining. Noah Cain had touchdown runs of 25 and 13 yards; his second TD have the Ascenders a 20-7 lead with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
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Overall, IMG Academy ran for 284 yards on 35 carries for an average of 8.1 yards.
Xavier Thomas, the top-ranked defensive player in the nation, had four tackles, five hurries and broke up two passes. One of those hurries led to a game-ending injury by Chandler star QB Jacob Conover, who landed awkwardly on his throwing shoulder as he tried to avoid being sacked by Thomas.
That took Conover out of his shoulder pads and put his right arm in a sling for the second half, as he watched senior Billy Bolger try to orchestrate the upset.
IMG also made key plays on special teams, including for the game’s first points. Ryker Brazerol returned a blocked punt by Nolan Smith to put IMG up 7-0 early in the first quarter and quiet the crowd of 7,000.
“We had a couple of chances in the red zone two or three times that could have put us ahead,” Chandler coach Shaun Aguano said. “Having Jacob get hurt, that was hard. “I’m happy with how our defense played. They did a good job.”
The Ascenders head west again next Saturday when they face Centennial (Corona, Calif.), in the Honor Bowl in San Diego. Game time is 10:30 p.m. ET.
Contributing: Richard Obert, AZCentral