IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) came alive in the third quarter and then broke out in the fourth to take down St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) 35-20 on Saturday.
The Cadets were unable to avoid their third loss in a row — all of which came against ranked teams — but IMG made plays on offense, defense and special teams late to run out the score.
While IMG won by two possessions, the game was much closer than the score indicates, as it was a one-point game at the start of the fourth quarter.
Here are some takeaways:
IMG can thrive late in the game, too
By the time the fourth quarter rolls around in IMG games, the Ascenders are typically very much in control of the driver’s seat and have turned the car to cruise control. They don’t really need to press to maintain grip of the game.
In the 11 games since the start of last year leading up to Saturday, only three times had an opponent scored more than seven points.
But this week, the Ascenders had to win the game in the second half and final quarter. And that’s what they did.
In a two-minute span in the third quarter, IMG punched in two touchdowns to take 21-14 lead with scores from four-star junior wide receiver Dekel Crowdus and sophomore running back Kaytron Allen. Then, after St. John’s scored a touchdown to make it a 21-20 game, three-star Florida State commit Josh Griffis blocked a PAT to maintain the lead going into the fourth quarter.
Each facet of IMG made a difference in the win. Junior linebacker Grant Miller had a pick-six with 9:33 left in the game, and later Allen scored another touchdown.
IMG has proven they can win early and ride out garbage time. This game showed they won’t falter late when it’s not a blowout. With contributions from all over, IMG won 35-20 in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
St. John’s is more than just the four- and five-stars
On a team full of highly-recruited Division 1 athletes, a couple players who don’t receive the recruiting attention as some of the others did a lot of the work.
Three-star Colby McDonald scored a 10-yard touchdown to give St. John’s the 14-7 lead in the second half. He played an overall strong game against one of the toughest teams in the country, also picking up a 25-yard run, but he only has five offers. Antwain Littleton continued his phenomenal year with a 45-yard score. Littleton has been a key cog for this offense throughout the season despite the tough schedule, and it’s surprising he too only has five offers. Both those players are in the Class of 2021.
And Jamar Curtis, in the Class of 2022, has played well this year, whether it’s a 25-yard touchdown run in August, a 53-yard dash a week after, or the 10-yard touchdown catch he had against IMG Academy to put the first points on the board.
BYU quarterback commit Sol-Jay Maiava and five-star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett are rightfully recognized as top weapons on offense. But these other players have also played stupendously.
What this means for the top teams in the country
If there were any question, IMG has secured a spot as one of the best teams in the country. After beating Northwestern (Miami, Florida) in its second win of the season and then edging out then-ranked St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) last week, the Ascenders topped St. John’s on Saturday with a strong second half.
But the Cadets are a different story. They have fallen victim to perhaps the toughest schedule in the country. They have played top-15 teams in three straight weeks, including No. 4 Duncanville (Texas) last week and No. 5 IMG this.
Next week, St. John’s takes on No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California).
It’s too late for St. John’s to win the National Championship, but what if they’re able to take down the best team in the country? How would that affect Duncanville and IMG Academy’s placement in the Super 25?
While the Cadets have three losses and are unranked, they are by no means irrelevant.