Morgan Park quarterback Benjamin Little could barely stand up on his own after orchestrating a thrilling 36-34 comeback win against Curie, the two-time defending city champions, at Stagg Stadium on Thursday.
He claimed he wasn’t hurt. “I’m good, I’m good, this just shows our brotherhood,” Little said as four teammates helped him off the field.
Little, a junior, found senior Fred McGee for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds to play to grab the win. It was on fourth down, the Mustangs last chance at the upset.
“I can’t describe this,” Little said. “Just the best feeling around.”
It was a star-making performance. Little threw four touchdown passes and rushed for a four-yard touchdown. He finished 8-for-12 for 271 yards passing. But it was his poise and leadership on the final game-winning drive that stood out the most.
“[Before the drive] I told him that if we want to be mentioned with the best this is how you do it, right here in these type of moments,” Morgan Park coach Terry Atkins said.
Curie’s Anthony Watson, the other dominant player on the field, had sacked Little on second down and forced him into a rushed throw on third down.
“As soon as I broke I knew I was wide open,” McGee said. “When [Little] threw it I just knew I had to catch it. I was scared because I didn’t know if I got my foot in.”
McGee caught four passes for 103 yards. The Mustangs receivers each had big moments. Jawon Denton caught a 55-yard touchdown pass, Kyel Grover a 31-yard touchdown pass and Michael Hawthorne grabbed a 33-yard touchdown pass.
“[The passing game] was always the focus coming in,” Atkins said. “[Curie] is extremely tough, extremely physical, but I felt like we had an advantage with our length and our receiving corps against their defensive backs.”
Curie (2-1) led 21-0 late in the second quarter but the Mustangs (3-0) scored two touchdowns in the final 2:58 of the first half to get back into the game.
“We just came out too excited,” Little said. “We had to calm down and play our game.”
Watson, a running back and defensive end for Curie, rushed 24 times for 180 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Conner finished with six carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The Condors threw just two passes in the game and completed one.
Phillips and Simeon have received more statewide attention the past several years, but the Condors have been a dominating force in Public League football recently.
“Morgan Park has just started to be able to play on this stage and prove that we can contend,” Atkins said. “The guys were determined. They wanted to go above and beyond to prove that we are ready to play.”
Morgan Park players and fans stormed the field after the game.
“We had to get it for the school, for our pride,” McGee said. “It was just personal. We had to pull this off and I knew I had to step up and grab that ball.”