After a back-and-forth first half, the Under-16 U.S. Select team defeated Mexico Norte 29-22 at International Bowl X at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Mexico held the lead three times in the first half, but the U.S. Select team kept battling back. After the team went up by seven in the third quarter, its defense tightened up to ensure the win.
Mexico Norte struck first by scoring on their first play from scrimmage with a dazzling 77-yard touchdown reception by Javier Campos from quarterback Hector Ramos Herrera, then adding a two-point conversion.
Showing their resilience, U.S. Select made it 8-7 with a 53-yard touchdown drive. On fourth and one in the red zone, Milon Jones (Marietta [Ga.] High School) scored on a 15-yard run.
Mexico answered with another score, capped off by QB Mario Abularach’s three-yard TD run, making it 14-7 after the two-point conversion was stopped.
U.S. Select quarterback Gerick Robinson (Las Vegas Centennial High School) made big plays with his arm and feet, earning MVP honors with two touchdown passes while completing five of 11 passes for 92 yards. Robinson also rushed for a game-high 105 yards on five carries, including a 60-yard TD where he zipped through the Mexico Norte defense, tying the game at 14-14.
A 23-yard TD pass to Javier Campos from Herrera (9-16, 142 yards) and a two-point conversion saw Mexico regain the lead 22-14, but as the second quarter wound down, Ta’Shy Stewart (Kokomo, Ind.) nabbed a pick-six, bobbing and weaving behind a convoy of blockers that paved the way to the end zone. Robinson then added a two-point conversion run to tie the game 22-22 at halftime.
In the third quarter, U.S. Select went up 29-22 when U.S. wide receiver Trai Ferguson (L.C. Bird High School, Richmond, Va.), took a screen pass from Robinson 31 yards for a touchdown. The scoring drive was kept alive on the previous play: On fourth and six at the U.S. 46 yard line, Robinson completed a strike to receiver Germie Bernard (North Las Vegas Liberty High School).
The U.S. Select defense came up big at crucial points in the game. In the fourth quarter, after a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Jaisel Alvarez Muñoz on the U.S. seven yard line, Mexico was poised to tie the game. But Jalil Singleton (Westlake, Md.) snagged his second interception of the game on fourth and goal.
After a short punt that put Mexico the ball on its own 48 with 7:20 remaining, U.S. safety Cameron Garrity (Braintree [Mass.] High School) snared the team’s fourth interception of the game.
After the teams traded punts, the U.S. defense wouldn’t allow Mexico to cross the 50 yard line, ensuring the win. The defense was led by defensive end Sir Mells (Henderson [Nev.] Liberty High School) with a team-high seven tackles, while linebacker Carlos Cervantes (Marietta [Ga.] High School) had a big day with six tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
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