BEAVERTON, Ore -- After two days of 7-on-7 competition, there was little doubt that Northwestern (Miami, FL) and Guyer (Denton, Texas) were the best two teams at the event.
Finding out who was number one took a little longer. When the dust settled, it was Northwestern which had successfully defended its Nike 7On title with a 44-42 victory over Guyer in double overtime.
Trailing 42-36 in the second overtime, Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hit backup quarterback E.J. Hilliard for a game-tying touchdown and running back Jerrill Jenkins for the winning two-point conversion.
Hilliard was forced to play receiver as a result of injuries to Northwestern's starting receivers.
"We just had to fight through it," Bridgewater said. "Sometimes I had to play receiver and sometimes E.J. did because we were down a few men. But you do what you have to in order to win."
The game was intense from the very beginning as Guyer took a 7-0 lead on a touchdown pass from J.W. Walsh to Quint Gardner. A second touchdown from Walsh to Cameron Hunter gave Guyer a 15-6 lead with less than two minutes in the half.
That's when Bridgewater the receiver took over. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Miami commit caught two passes for 50 yards and set up his own touchdown pass to Dominique Rhymes as the half expired, pulling Northwestern to within 15-14.
In the second half, the back-and-forth battle continued as Walsh's touchdown pass to Lance Cullum gave Guyer a 21-14 lead and Bridgewater's reply to Amari Cooper with a two-pointer to Rhymes gave Northwestern a 22-21 advantage.
"It was incredible stuff on both sides," said Walsh, an Oklahoma State commit. "It was all class on both sides. We've got a lot of respect for them and I think they respect us."
Walsh's fourth touchdown pass, this one to Texas A&M commit Josh Stewart, gave Guyer a 28-22 lead, but Bridgewater answered again by hitting Rhymes on a 40-yard bomb to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
"Overtime was what the people wanted I guess," Bridgewater added. "So we had to give it to them."
Bridgewater finished the game 32-of-41 for 335 yards and six touchdowns. His two receptions for 50 yards set up a score and his two interceptions in the tournamment helped him earn MVP honors. Walsh finished with 386 yards and six touchdowns.
"We came up a little short," Walsh said. "But we left everything we had out there. I guarantee you couldn't have found two teams that would play any harder."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.