SYCAMORE – A different year, but the same result for Austin Culton and the Sycamore Spartans.
Facing Chicago King in the first round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs for the second consecutive season, Culton ran for 183 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries as the Spartans pulled away in the second half for a 35-13 victory at home.
Culton ran for 206 yards and four touchdowns in Sycamore's 36-29 win over King last year.
"The line played great," Culton said. "They were getting physical. All week in practice we were getting after each other so I just think that translated to the game."
Sycamore will face Montini in the second round of the playoffs after the Broncos defeated Bremen, 54-13.
Culton broke through for a 53-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage and Sycamore had an early 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
King responded on the following drive using its running game to put together a 15-play drive that covered 71 yards. QB Nathan Powell kept it on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal to tie it, 7-7.
The Spartans again struck quickly as QB Devin Mottet found Ben Niemann down the middle of the field for a 39-yard touchdown pass and Sycamore led, 14-7.
Both offenses stalled in the second quarter as Sycamore had two possessions ended by Mottet interceptions in the red zone. But Sycamore made a couple adjustments at halftime and Culton carried the load.
The defense held King to a three-and-out on the Jaguars' first possession of the third quarter and Culton capped a 50-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put Sycamore up, 21-7.
King again put together a long, time-consuming drive. The Jaguars ran 16 plays and RB Lance Robinson's six-yard touchdown run brought King within eight, 21-13.
"That's as much speed on the field as we've seen all year," Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. "They're pretty fast."
However, the Spartans' offense continued to execute. Mottet made a couple of key completions on third downs and a nine-yard touchdown run by Culton put Sycamore up by two scores. After King turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, Culton got his fourth touchdown of the night, this time from six yards out.
Montini is the three-time defending Class 5A champions. Sycamore fell to Montini, 28-7, in 2010, a game Culton didn't play in.
"My sophomore year we played Montini," Culton said. "I've always wanted to actually play them myself so I'm looking forward to that."
Sycamore 35, King 13
King 7 0 0 6 - 13 Sycamore 14 0 7 14 - 35
First Quarter S - Culton 53 run (Maveus kick), 11:09 K - Powell 1 run (Magos kick), 4:42 S - Niemann 39 pass from Mottet (Maveus kick), 2:11
Third Quarter S - Culton 3 run (Maveus kick), 6:41
Fourth Quarter K - Robinson 6 run (conversion failed), 11:56 S - Culton 9 run (Maveus kick), 7:22 S - Culton 6 run (Maveus kick), 1:40
RUSHING - King: Stewart 4-4, Robinson 18-79, Powell 14-53, Harris 1-minus 6. Total 37-130. Sycamore: Culton 25-183, Mottet 3-13, Scholz 5-27. Total: 33-223.
PASSING - King: Powell 9-17-0-88. Sycamore: Mottet 6-12-2-96
RECEIVING - King: Milligan 4-45, Tucker 1-10, Robinson 4-33. Sycamore: Niemann 5-88, Keller 1-8.