MANATEE -- Chris Weinke summed Thursday's wild contest on Senior Night at IMG Academy with the following: "Trick or treat."
The former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and first-year Ascenders head coach said it was a crazy football game, and he wasn't wrong.
IMG (8-1) bested visiting Clearwater Central Catholic 19-13 in overtime in a game that could have ended several different ways earlier.
"That's about as crazy as it gets," Weinke said. "Usually you don't see all those things happen in one game. Testament to our football team not giving up. Things did not look good early on. ... So it's just hats off to the coaching staff, to these players, to the fans that came out to enjoy a great high school football game."
The frantic fourth quarter witnessed CCC (7-2) having an interception return for game-clinching touchdown returned for a defensive pass interference penalty.
Then the Marauders were poised to find pay dirt on the offensive end with 5:46 remaining in the
game. It would have given CCC an insurmountable 19-7 lead.
Instead, IMG defensive end Kyle Forde pounced on a fumble on the Ascenders 1-yard line, which set up even more frenzied moments to unfold.
"You can't beat Death Row," said linebacker John Tauber about the defensive scheme that forced the pivotal fumble. "Literally every time, nobody has been able to score on Death Row. It's just one of those defenses. ... The defense on goal line is 65-lock, and you just can't shut it down."
Quarterback Michael O'Connor and running back Mikey Daniel, filling the void vacated by an injured Bo Scarbrough (knee), were instrumental in the 14-play, 99-yard drive that lasted 5 minutes, 33 seconds and ended with an O'Connor's 11-yard touchdown pass to former Cardinal Mooney player Casey Gunderson.
"With 5½ minutes left, guys kept making plays," Weinke said. "It's impressive when late in the game, when you haven't had any success necessarily on offense, to put a 99-yard drive together."
Following the touchdown, which knotted the game at 13 with 13 seconds left, something spooky occurred: CCC middle linebacker Caanan Brown blocked Jackson Dick's game-winning extra point attempt.
The Marauders, entering with the No. 3 ranking in Class 3A, and the Ascenders, trying to close out a strong inaugural campaign, headed for overtime.
That period went IMG's way, with Tauber intercepting CCC quarterback Jeff Smith's third-down pass.
Then Daniel scampered in from 10 yards out for the game-winner on IMG's first play of overtime.
"When we come back like that, all the momentum changed," Daniel said. "It's our house, and it's Senior Night. Last game for all the seniors in our place; we fought hard the rest of the game for the seniors."
Weinke said Scarbrough's status for next week's season finale at Class 6A Naples is uncertain.