IMG Academy (FL) wins shootout with Bergen Catholic (NJ)

IMG Academy football

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The highly noted Super 25 showdown between No. 12 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and No. 18 Bergen Catholic (Oradell, NJ) lived up to the hype on Saturday afternoon, with IMG powering through and holding off Bergen Catholic in a 59-47 score-fest. The loss was Bergen Catholic’s first loss at home since 2013, and the 106 combined points scored today was the most in Bergen Catholic’s 58-year history.

No matter what the BC Crusaders threw at IMG, the Ascenders always had an answer.

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However, it was IMG who struck first. After an Ascender touchdown was called back for an illegal man downfield, Shea Patterson took a 3-yard QB-keeper into the endzone.

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The Crusaders responded quickly, largely in part to multiple IMG penalties. A double-flagged play for a late hit and unsportsmanlike conduct, on top of multiple offside penalties put BC QB Jarrett Guarantano in position for a 3-yard TD of his own. The ensuing XP was blocked, giving IMG a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter.

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Patterson made fast-work of the next drive, connecting with Kerrick Hahn on a 59-yard catch-and-run to close out the first quarter. The nation’s No. 1 pro-style QB would finish the drive, hitting Emmanuel Green for a 7-yard TD.

The next drive, the Ascenders brought the house, and Guarantano made them pay, connecting on a 29-yard TD pass. The Crusaders completed the 2-point conversion to tie the game.

Trying to catch IMG off their guard, BC attempted an onside kick that backfired in the worst of ways. The ball rolled straight to Drake Davis, IMG’s biggest scoring threat, who proceeded to return the kick 48 yards for an IMG score.

IMG had the opportunity to put the game away early, with BC going three-and-out on the next drive, and it seemed as if they would. Patterson responded by hitting Green for another TD, this one for 70-yards on a near-perfect pass.

The Crusaders offensive troubles continued. After yet another three-and-out, followed by a lost fumble which was returned for 70 yards for another IMG touchdown, the Ascenders had a comfortable 35-14 halftime lead.

BC scored on the opening drive of the second half thanks to a 35-yard TD pass from Guarantano to Andrew Vito. IMG countered, quickly, returning the ensuing kickoff 63 yards for a score.

A pair of BC touchdown’s with an IMG field goal in between gave the Crusaders momentum early in the fourth quarter. Despite Guarantano briefly leaving the game, BC was back in the game, down 45-33.

The Crusaders would force an IMG punt, or so they thought. A perfect fake punt put IMG on the BC 9-yard line, where the Ascenders would punch in another score to take a 52-33 lead with 7:48 left on the clock.

Guarantano would re-enter the game, leading the Crusaders all the way back, down just five points with 2:38 left in the game. A failed onside kick set up the Ascenders to seal the deal.

Nationally ranked slugfest is right.

IMG only punted once, ran a successful fake punt, returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, returned a fumble 70 yards for a score and threw a 70-yard touchdown pass.

BC’s Guarantano finished the game 30-of-38 for 379 yards and four touchdowns, good enough for a passer rating of 143.2.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.

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