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  • Tyler Harden

St. Frances Academy snaps IMG Academy win streak at home, walks away with a 34-24 win

Photo Credit: @maxpreps

BRADENTON, FLORIDA— ­­­There aren’t many high school football teams in the country that can keep up with IMG Academy. Loaded with five-star recruits and All Americans, the Ascenders are a predominant power in high school football for the country. However, the St. Frances Academy Panthers are one of the few teams that can hold their own against the Ascenders.

The Panthers, led by 4-star defensive end and Oklahoma Commit, Derrick Moore, did not have a season last year due to COVID-19. But the Panthers didn’t skip a beat, coming into the 2021 season as a Top 15 team in the country, and they showed why their ranking will only get higher tonight against IMG Academy.

St. Frances Academy got right to work to start the game. Wide receiver, Dejuan Williams, found a hole down the sideline for a 66-yard touchdown to give the Panthers an early 6-0 lead (PAT blocked). The Panther defense also started strong, controlling IMG on their first offensive drive. IMG eventually got on the board with a 32-yard field goal to make the score 6-3. St. Frances had an answer, as quarterback, John Griffith, found wide receiver, Malik Baker for an 80-yard touchdown, extending the Panthers’ lead to 12-3 (2-point conversion no good). The Panther defense then made a huge play, coming up with a fumble recovery to give the offense the ball at their own 20-yard line to end the first quarter.

St. Frances Academy kept rolling into the second quarter, as wide receiver, Lamar Patterson, ran into the end zone on a jet sweep for a touchdown (PAT good). After IMG was forced to punt on their next possession, the Panther defense executed once again. The Panthers blocked the punt, and linebacker, Marquis Atkins, recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, giving St. Frances a huge 26-3 lead.

IMG Academy then showed why they are consistently a top high school football team. After quarterback, Ryan Downs, temporarily came out of the game due to injury, running back, Kaytron Allen, was forced to take snaps from wildcat. Allen got the Ascenders going from his first snap, finding room to run for a 39-yard touchdown (PAT good). The IMG defense then made an impact, as a sack caused a recovered fumble by IMG, giving the offense the ball at the St. Frances Academy 25-yard line. Shortly after, Jaleel Skinner caught a one-handed touchdown pass from Ryan Downs that might be one of the best catches of the year. The Ascenders went into halftime closing St. Frances’ lead to 26-18.

The Ascenders kept their foot on the gas to start the second half. The offense went down the field, until they were brought to 4th down and 3. But Ryan Downs completed a pass to Kaytron Allen for a touchdown to make the score 26-24 (2-point conversion good).

St. Frances Academy wouldn’t go away, as quarterback, Michael Van Buren, converted on a crucial 4th down and 8 to the IMG 17-yard line. The Panthers were then able to extend their lead to 34-24 with a huge 5-yard rushing touchdown to end the third quarter (2-point conversion).

IMG needed the spark they had at the end of the first half heading into the fourth quarter. After both teams shared punts, cornerback and Clemson commit, Daylen Everette, gave them that potential spark. The four-star recruit and Under Armour All-American intercepted a pass in the end zone, and returned it to the IMG 40-yard line. However, after the Ascenders went for it on 4th and 11, they were unable to convert, and St. Frances had secured the upset over the number-2 team in the country.

St. Frances Academy gives IMG Academy their first loss at home in 7 years with a 34-24 win. The Panthers finish their season with an 8-1 record, and will likely be a Top 10 high school football team in the country. IMG Academy suffers their first loss since 2019, and finishes their season with a 9-1 record.

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