Westgate Elementary School student Justin Leander and some of his classmates got quite a thrill Friday night.
They were allowed to run thru the inflatable "Milo the Mustang" prior to the Rolling Meadows game against visiting Fremd, and high-five the Mustangs players on the way to the field.
"It was cool the way they ran through the tunnel we made," said the fourth-grader.
Leander and his buddies sure must have enjoyed the game as well, as Meadows kept its cool to prevail 27-14 over the Vikings in a Mid-Suburban League crossover.
On a night where the student bodies in both grandstands wore orange in a tribute to former Fremd student Brian Larsen -- a friend to many at both schools who passed away last year after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis -- Mustangs quarterback Jack Milas completed 26-of-41 passes for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Milas got plenty of help from his defensive unit, which forced 6 turnovers, had 5 sacks and 5 passes batted down, and also from offensive linemen Matt Long, Billy Golaris, Mark Schmid, Alexis Rojas and Matt Barry. They kept Milas, who was rarely hurried, upright and untouched all evening.
"We knew they (Fremd) had some quick defensive linemen," said Barry, "so we wanted to come out tonight and be physical up front."
The Vikings (2-2) also got a tremendous performance from their own QB, Sam Beutler (17-of-30 passing, 235 yards, 2 TDs), but coach Lou Sponsel had a ready answer as to a reason for the loss.
"Too many turnovers and too many mistakes," said Sponsel. "You can't win like that."
Milas connected twice for touchdowns in the first half to senior wide receiver Jacob Grant, from 17 yards out and then on a 41-yard bomb as Meadows (3-1) took charge.
Beutler countered at the end of first half with a 30-yard strike to Andrew Stark, but then Milas went to work again in the third quarter.
The Ball-State bound QB hit Austin Reed on 9 and 24 yards, the latter a spectacular leaping fourth-down catch.
Beutler threw for a late score to Matthew Isola but Grant, from his safety position, got his second sack (and forced a fumble) to blunt any chance for a Vikings rally.
"We had some great work in practice this week," said Grant, "and that translated over to the game."
Running back Jeff McGlade rushed for 72 tough yards for the Vikings, and Isola caught 8 passes for 103 yards.
Meadows defensive backs Luke Toenjes and Danny Malnati each grabbed interceptions.
Andre Campbell caught 8 passes for the Mustangs.
"We watched a lot of film this week," said Grant, "and we practiced as fast as we could. We came out wanting to stop the run, because we knew they wanted to pound the ball. Once we got a pretty good lead, we just carried on and did our jobs."