Curie needed a psychological boost to remove the hangover of its disappointing overtime loss to New Trier in a Class 8A second-round playoff game Saturday.
Enter stage right Matthew Cole. The speedy wide out and return specialist needed about 13 seconds to vanquish the harsh memories.
Cole returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown and added a 49-yard touchdown run as the Condors set a program record for victories in a season by outlasting King 33-30 in a Public League city playoff Wednesday night at Lane.
The Condors (10-2) advance to the city championship against Hubbard either November 21 or 22. Curie qualified for its first title game appearance since the 2010 squad lost to Fenwick in the Prep Bowl.
“We just made Curie history,” Cole said. “No Curie team has ever been 10-2 before.”
Cole received the opening kick and bolted through a seam in the middle before taking it outside and breaking two tackles in racing to the end zone for his first return touchdown of the season.
“One of my friends told me it was good to go outside with it because everybody was expecting me to go inside, and that’s what I did,” he said.
Curie running back Chris Baldwin rushed for 137 yards on 22 carries. Baldwin carried the ball 14 times for 96 yards in the second half and helped the Condors control possession. “The [kickoff] is what really got us going,” he said. “We needed something to get hyped.”
Curie lost to New Trier 28-27 in overtime after Condors coach Jay McDonagh elected to go for a two-point conversion.
Both teams scored five touchdowns. The differential was Curie converted three of its five extra-point kick attempts and the Jaguars failed on each of their two-point conversions.
The two Cole touchdowns and an Andre Green 3-yard run put the Condors up 20-18 at the break.
“They made a few more plays than we did,” King coach Lonnie Williams said. “We have some good kids, but we’re not always mentally as tough as we have to be. They scored a touchdown in the opening seconds without even running a play from scrimmage and we were down 7-0.”
King star running back Lance Robinson, the grandson of Williams, ended his four-year career with four touchdowns. Robinson gained 137 yards on 21 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 8, 12, 4 and 8 yards as King (8-4) overcame the Condors’ early dominance.
Robinson provided the Jaguars’ only lead of the game, 24-20, on King’s opening drive of the second half, capitalizing on a 37-yard kickoff return to unleash separate runs of 26 and 19 yards that set up his own 4-yard burst.
Curie responded with a six-play, 64-yard drive and quickly regained the lead as quarterback Mike Goldsmith deftly executed a fake inside handoff and reverse pivot he broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run and the two-point lead (26-24).
On the ensuing King possession, Baldwin recorded a key sack that forced a Jaguars’ punt and then provided some breathing space with a four-carry, 42-yard drive that ended with his 3-yard blast up the middle.
King had a final chance following Robinson’s fourth touchdown that pulled the Jaguars within three and after they stopped the Condors on fourth down midway through the fourth quarter. Curie linebacker Eren Jenkins stopped King quarterback Sean Edison on fourth down with just over two and a half minutes to play.
Edison added a 33-yard touchdown for King.