Saivion Smith was stellar against powerhouse Trinity Christian, recording two non-offensive touchdowns on
the evening to help the Acenders cap a 28-7 victory to reach 7-1 on the year
Super Saivion Smith rescues IMG Academy as Ascenders avenge last year’s loss to Trinity Christian
BRADENTON — Whether he’s auditioning for an offensive role in the future or not, there’s no denying how special Saivion Smith is for the IMG Academy football program.
Smith’s latest heroics came during a pivotal stretch of Thursday’s nationally televised game against visiting Jacksonville Trinity Christian.
The Ascenders (7-1) reeled off three scores in a short burst at the end of the first half, thanks in large part to Smith, and held off the Conquerors 28-7.
“Saivion had a heck of a game, again,” IMG head coach Chris Weinke said.
With both teams deadlocked early, the game was turned on its head around the midway point of the second quarter.
Trinity Christian, which was facing fourth-and-eight from its 19-yard line, elected to punt.
That’s when IMG’s Bryce Beard blocked the punt that wobbled into the end zone for Smith to pounce on for the opening touchdown.
Following a Tony Jones 31-yard touchdown run, Smith was at it again.
This time, the St. Petersburg Lakewood transfer and IMG junior cornerback with 16 Division I offers, stripped Trinity’s Jeff Holland and scooped the ball up before racing 46 yards to pay dirt.
The 21-0 cushion was all IMG needed to turn back the Conquerors (4-2).
“It was huge,” Trinity head coach Verlon Dorminey said. “You give up 21 points in about a two-to-three minute span, down 21-0 and they played great defense (Thursday). We didn’t move the ball early and we had six plays in the first quarter. Hats off to them.”
The three-touchdown span took five minutes, 50 seconds, but was a death blow for Trinity. It was a special teams play, one offensive play by IMG and a defensive play that accounted for the damage.
And Smith tallied his fifth regular-season touchdown, sixth if you count the Kickoff Classic.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can do to get more points on the board for my team,” Smith said.
Trinity’s Kevin Toliver, who ran for nearly 170 yards and a pair of scores last week and is an LSU commit, was injured in the first half along with a couple other dings picked up from Jalin Buie and Rasheed Martin, Dorminey said.
But another key, aside from the late first half spurt, for IMG’s marquee victory on ESPNU was the Ascenders’ defense rising to thwart Trinity drives on three consecutive possessions. Each time, IMG forced a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
“It was a little bend by our defense, but no break,” Weinke said.
IMG quarterback Deondre Francois found Tavares Chase for a 40-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
The lone touchdown for Trinity was a 4-yard reception from Chris Barr from quarterback Billy Cobb halfway through the third quarter.
The televised game also drew interest from college coaches, with tight ends coach Scott Sallach, of No. 1-ranked Mississippi State, in attendance.
“We take it day-by-day here and we’re trying to make sure we’re bringing the right types of kids here,” Weinke said. “And make sure they understand the expectation level’s really high. Even though we’re a second-year program, I think you see from the individual guys we have and collectively in all three phases, these guys are good football players.”
The Ascenders were held to 164 yards of total offense, and Trinity wide receiver Chris Barr’s 10 catches for 93 yards were a game-high.