Mater Dei vs IMG: The Game of the Referees
by Nikolas Molina and Elliston Ospina
On Friday, September 21st, top-ranked IMG came over from across the country in Florida to take on the #3 Mater Dei Monarchs in the game of the year so far.
This was easily one of the most publicized matches in the nation this year for football. Every seat was sold and many coaches and scouts were in attendance from all places, coming to see all the talents showcasing their skill. Many viewers tuned into the game to see the combined 50 players with full-ride scholarships take the field.
Mater Dei took the field led by junior quarterback Bryce Young, senior receiver Bru McCoy, and talented running back Sean Dollars. With a 3-1 record, Mater Dei needed this win to regain their status as the top team in football in the nation.
On the opposing side, IMG Academy was running on a 46-game win streak, carried by talented RBs Noah Caine and Tre Sanders. Having 26 players with FBS offers, this team is complete with no holes on their depth chart.
This game was as good as advertised, with no team having a bigger lead then seven points throughout. It was very even match-up, as IMG finished with 413 total yards and 405 for Mater Dei. With teams matching up pound-for-pound, the players were chirping the whole game, heating things up. Things were getting too physical for the refs, as they ended up ejecting two IMG players.
The game was a flag fest, as the two teams combined for 30 penalties each, resulting in big yards and returning big plays. On one play, IMG took back a 75-yard punt return, only to have it called back due to holding.
IMG scored the first points and led 7-0 in the second quarter with 11:14 left in the half. The Monarchs responded immediately thanks to a personal foul on IMG on fourth down. The penalty extended a 58-yard drive that was eventually capped off with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Young to McCoy. However, simple mistakes caused the extra point to be blocked and instead of tying it, Mater Dei still trailed 7-6 going into halftime.
At the start of the second half, a bad snap pushed IMG back to its own one-yard line. After a short punt that gave them great field possession, Mater Dei took its first lead of the game. Following a 44-yard flea flicker pass from Young to wide open Sean Dollars, the Monarchs converted a two-point conversion pass to Mike Martinez to make it 14-7 with 10:08 left in the third.
Just two plays later, Tre Sanders exploded for IMG with a ridiculous 86-yard run to tie the game at 14.
Mater Dei came back on their next drive and ran a successful trick play, Young looked like he was running right on a keeper, but instead lateraled the ball to junior tackle Myles Murao, who ran 14 yards untouched for a touchdown, making it 21-14 halfway through the third.
Coming right back, IMG QB David Baldwin threw a dime to receiver Michael Redding, who made a 24 yard catch for a touchdown to tie the game at 21-21 with three minutes left in the third.
After straight series of both offenses on display, the defenses for both teams finally came out and forced a punt on the next four possessions for each team. IMG seemed as if they wanted to wear down the defense with a 60-yard scoring drive, all on the ground. But Mater Dei’s defense went to work in the red zone, forcing only a field goal. This was a big play for the defense, as the offense could now win the game with a touchdown drive.
The un-phased Young finished off a 9 play, 75-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run in the last two minutes, giving Mater Dei a 28-24 lead.
Mater Dei’s defense would not let up, and secured the 28-24 victory. This was a statement win for the Monarchs, letting everyone know that despite their forfeit loss, they are still a top team in the nation.