The IMG Academy Football team began the night going three-for-three on weather delays, with kickoff being pushed back nearly an hour. However, the Ascenders took the field prepared to defend their turf for the regular season home opener against the North Miami Beach Chargers. The Ascenders trailed for the first time this season, as the Chargers reached the endzone first to go up 7-0 on the opening possession. The Ascenders answered with a 22 point flurry in the second-quarter, with QB Michael O’Connor and WR Clark Thomas connecting on a pair of touchdowns, 19 and 14-yards, respectively, to end the half. The last scoring of the night came in the fourth quarter when the Chargers scored early, only to have IMG Academy answer right back, with RB Jack Wegher punching in his second touchdown run of the night and his second two-point conversion to put the game away, 30-15.
“You never want to start out the game and allow the opponent to have a long sustained drive and put points on the board, so I think we responded well… but all-in-all, we had some chances we missed some balls, we dropped some balls in crucial situations, it was a penalty-ridden game, which makes it difficult to get in rhythm, but offensively I think we’ll clean some things up and we’ll be just fine,” remarked Head Coach Chris Weinke after the game. “[North Miami Beach] never gave up – they played 48 minutes of football, they put the pressure on us and put us in tough situations. We were only one score up late in the game. Our goal late was to sustain a drive and punch it in and give us a little cushion, but hats off to them, they played a heck of a game.”
Offensively, the running game led the way. Alabama commit, RB Bo Scarbrough, hit the century mark with 110 yards on 12 carries (9.2 avg.), but Wegher was a difference maker, scoring the team’s first and last touchdowns and adding a pair of two-point conversions.
Wegher said of his big night, “It was great to get those two touchdowns in, the first of the year, but our offensive line did a heck of a job and they’ve been good since day one and going hard and grinding all the time.”
The chemistry between QB Michael O’Connor and WR Clark Thomas was evident. The Penn State commit O’Connor found Thomas four times on the night, hitting his go-to receiver four times for 67 of his 127 yards on the evening, and both passing scores. Thomas leads the team in the regular season with eight catches for 154 yards in two games.
Weinke described their connection, saying, “O’Connor feels comfortable with Clark, and he’s doing a good job; I think there’s a number of guys Michael is comfortable with, but it so happens he’s connected with Clark on some big plays that resulted in touchdowns, and I hope the other guys continue to step up and make plays, but Clark did a nice job tonight.”
Notably, DE Kyle Forde brought down Chargers QB Cedric Wiggins twice, with one solo sack and an assist, bringing his season total to 5.5 in two games.
IMG Academy improves to 2-0 in the regular season and returns to the field at home on Friday the 13th against Cardinal Newman High School out of West Palm Beach, Fla., who are led by Head Coach Steve Walsh. The game is scheduled to kick off at IMG Academy Stadium at 7:30 p.m. For schedule and ticketing information, please visit the event and ticketing site by clicking HERE.