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ORLANDO — East St. Louis (Ill.) receiver Jeff Thomas had three catches for 148 yards, two of them for touchdowns, to lead Team Armour to a 24-21 victory against Team Highlight in the Under Armour All-America Game on Sunday.
Thomas, who was a first-team American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection, used his 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash to become the first receiver in the history of the game to have two touchdown catches, one in each half. He made a simple down-and-out pattern into a 44-yard touchdown in the first half and turned a slant pattern into a 79-yard score in the second half.
Thomas’ 148 receiving yards also broke the game’s record of 120 yards set by former East St. Louis wide receiver Terry Hawthorne, who went on to play four years at Illinois and is now the Flyers’ secondary coach.
“It’s a good experience,” Thomas said. “Before the game, (Hawthorne) told me he had the receiving record, so I had to break it. On the first touchdown, I went for the ball and realized I had space, so I made him think I was going outside and then I broke inside. To be honest, I don’t know what happened on the second touchdown.”
Thomas is undecided on his college choice. He has 16 offers, including Illinois, but in the past week, Oregon and Tennessee offered him and he plans visits to both schools in the next few weeks, along with Miami. More offers are sure to follow.
“This isn’t necessarily bad for Illinois,” Thomas said. “I haven’t broken down who my favorites are yet. Hopefully, this puts me on the map nationally. I just wanted to show my talents.”
St. Stanislaus (Bay St. Louis, Miss.) quarterback Myles Brennan, an LSU commit, threw the first touchdown pass to Thomas.
“It was a five-yard out that was supposed to be just for a first down, but we knew if you put it in his hands, he could make a big play for us,” Brennan said.
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) linebacker Dylan Moses, an Alabama commit, and K’Lavon Chaisson, a North Shore (Houston) defensive end, were Team Highlight’s leaders on defense. Moses had a game-record 10 tackles and Chaisson had six tackles, including three sacks.
“It’s kind of a little glimpse of what college will be,” Moses said. “It was hard, really, adjusting to everything because everyone is fast. Jeff Thomas is a beast. He has some wheels. I didn’t really get to watch him in practice, but seeing him live in practice is crazy.”
Thomas was Team Armour’s MVP. The MVP for Team Highlight was Khalan Laborn, a FSU-bound running back from Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach), who ran for 74 yards and a touchdown. Anders Carlson, an Auburn commit from Classical Academy (Colorado Springs, Colo.) had two field goals in the game for Team Highlight, the first a 36-yarder in the first half and the second a 39-yarder in the second half.
Toneil Carter had a 5-yard run for Team Highlight to cut Team Armour’s lead to 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter. IMG Academy quarterback Kellen Mond followed with a two-point conversion pass to Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) tight end Brock Wright, who is headed to Notre Dame.
In the first half, Mond, a Texas A&M commit, got Team Highlight on the board on his first series. He ran 20 yards for a first down and after nearly being intercepted by Moses, he found Wright for a 26-yard pass to the Team Armour 21. One play later, Laborn rolled right and ran it in for a 21-yard touchdown.
Team Armour answered on the next series. After a failed onside kick by Team Highlight gave Team Armour the ball at the Highlight 46, Amour quarterback Kasim Hill of St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) led a six-play drive that included a 26-yard run and a 9-yard run by Hill. The touchdown came on a 4-yard run by Archbishop Hoban (Akron) running back Todd Sibley, who is headed to Pitt.
Penalties forced Team Highlight had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Carlson with nine minutes to go in the first half. That gave Highlight a 10-7 lead.
Team Armour went up 14-10 as Brennan found Thomas on on a short down-and-out, and Thomas juked Chevin Calloway and ran through an arm tackle by Daniel Wright en route to a 44-yard touchdown catch with 2:03 remaining in the half. Armour tacked on another score right before the half on a 46-yard field goal by Andrew Mevis.