IMG stays in national title hunt with shutout of Long Beach Poly

Ranked second nationally by USA Today, IMG Academy Ascenders (8-0) ventured to the West Coast for a second time this season to take on the storied Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (6-3). After a defensive struggle through most of the first half, the Ascenders pulled away for a 34-0 victory.

The game was mired in a defensive struggle for the majority of the first half. The Ascenders got on the board first when kicker Cooper Graham was good on a 30-yard try.

On the ensuing drive, the Jackrabbits got into scoring position on a risky fake punt when Daryus Kryger stepped up and completed a pop pass that drove Poly deep into Ascender territory. However, a strong stand by the IMG Academy defense held Poly on a fourth-and-short to turn it over on downs.

In the second quarter it appeared that Poly may score after Kellen Mond was intercepted by DB Josh Talbott halfway through the period. Deep in Ascender territory facing fourth-and-12, QB Nolan McDonald dashed up the field, but was stopped barely a yard shy of the first down.

The IMG Academy defense held strong once again after an errant handoff from Mond to RB Trey Sanders gave the ball away at the Long Beach 45-yard line. On the next drive, Mond showed some fancy footwork to extend plays and shake defenders on his way to capping off a long drive with a four-yard blast up the middle to put the Ascenders up 10-0 entering the half.

On the opening drive of the second half, kicker Cooper Graham booted a 46-yard field goal to extend IMG Academy’s lead to 13-0. Later in the quarter, Mond ran in his second rushing score of the night with just over three minutes remaining to make it 20-0

Nearing the end of the contest, Trey Sanders continued his big night with a 42-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0. Entering the game, Sanders’ season high was 63 yards, and he recorded 103 yards in the first half alone. The sophomore tailback finished with 203 yards on the night.

The final score of the night came from Ascenders RB and team chaplain John Marcus Carruthers. With less than two minutes on the clock, Carruthers carried it in on a five-yard rush to end the game 34-0.

Notably, Mond’s two rushing touchdowns bring him to 13 rushing touchdowns on the year, ever closer to the single-season rushing touchdown record of 16 set by current Alabama Crimson Tide RB Bo Scarbrough in 2013.

The Ascenders return to action looking to extend their 26-game regular season winning streak on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Hollywood, Fla. IMG Academy will hit the road to take on the Chaminade Madonna Lions (7-2). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM EST.

– Johnny Esfeller

SCORING SUMMARY

IMG   3 7 10 14

TC   0 0 0 0

First Quarter

IMG – Cooper Graham 30-yard field goal, 3:46

Second Quarter

IMG – Kellen Mond 4-yard run (Cooper Graham kick), 0:04

Third Quarter

IMG – Cooper Graham 46-yard field goal, 9:08

IMG – Kellen Mond 13-yard run (Cooper Graham kick), 3:33

Fourth Quarter

IMG – Trey Sanders 42-yard run (Cooper Graham kick), 6:59

IMG – John Marcus Carruthers 5-yard run (Cooper Graham), 1:59

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