ST. PETERSBURG — On a night of hard hits and unconventional highlights, future Florida Gators made some of the biggest plays of all.
UF-bound Brian Poole scored the longest touchdown in Under Armour All-America Game history, and Marcus Maye blocked a punt to help Team Blur (White) wipe out Team Highlight (Black) 49-16 on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
“I felt we made a huge statement,” Poole said.
Playing 30 miles from his Bradenton Southeast High, Poole made one of the night’s most exciting plays in the second quarter. Trailing 13-3, Team Black entered the White red zone before a Channing Ward sack helped set up third and long.
That’s when Texas quarterback commit Connor Brewer fired a pass that sailed to Poole, Rivals.com’s No. 8 cornerback. The four-star recruit picked up a block, shed one tackler and sprinted 93 yards for a touchdown — the longest scoring play in the game’s five-year history.
“My instincts just took me to it. …” Poole said. “I knew I was taking it to the house.”
Poole’s friends and family made up about 100 of the announced attendance of 24,710 — a crowd larger than all but 18 Rays home games last season and more than 4,000 larger than last month’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Poole and a handful of future Gators and Florida State Seminoles jolted them during the ESPN-televised, prime-time matchup.
Lakewood defensive end and FSU commit Dante Fowler Jr. zoomed across the line to sack Chad Kelly on third down deep in his own territory early in the second half. On the next play, Maye — Rivals’ No. 4 safety prospect who lined up at linebacker — cut inside and swatted a punt out of the back of the end zone for the first safety in the game’s history.
“I just decided to go make a play,” said Maye, a Melbourne Holy Trinity standout. “It opened up.”
Defenses were fierce in a hard-hitting battle that featured 12 sacks, six fumbles and four interceptions. A blow knocked out Brewer and an already-depleted Black roster, forcing quarterback Tanner Mangum to switch sides to give Highlight another passer. The defensive lines held both rushing attacks to 1.8 yards per carry.
State recruits added a handful of offensive highlights as White racked up the most points the game has seen.
“Team Blur had an outstanding performance out there today,” FSU quarterback commit Jameis Winston said.
So did Winston, who earned MVP honors after completing 8 of 9 passes for 178 yards and two TDs, including a 75-yard bomb to Amari Cooper that gave White a 6-0 lead nine minutes into the game.
Another future Seminole, Marvin Bracy, leaped for a one-handed, 32-yard touchdown catch from Zach Kline that extended White’s lead to 13-3 midway through the second quarter before White broke open the game in the second half.
Cornerback Cyrus Jones returned a Mangum interception 40 yards for a touchdown moments before he announced his commitment to Alabama. And Cooper put the game out of reach when the Bama-bound star from Miami Northwestern tied Poole’s new record with a 93-yard punt return for a score a minute into the fourth.
Staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.