Rolling Meadows isn't accustomed to winning like it did on Friday night at Roland Goins Stadium.
But if teams are only going to put five defenders in the box against the strong-armed Jack Milas, then the Mustangs are perfectly content to run the ball all night long.
And Meadows did, as 3 rushing touchdowns and an aggressive defensive front-7 propelled them to a 28-21 victory over Hersey in Mid-Suburban East play, keeping the Mustangs in a three-way tie atop the East and eliminating the Huskies from playoff contention.
With Hersey (3-5, 2-2) carefully guarding against the pass, Meadows (6-2, 3-1) took full advantage by piling up 233 yards on the ground, far better than the 60 yards the Mustangs produced in the previous week's loss to Elk Grove.
"We know that's what teams want to do to us to stop the passing game, and we have to be able to run it," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "Last week we didn't do it effectively and tonight our offensive line did a phenomenal job."
The plan was clear early as Steven Royster ran for 110 of his 131 yards in the first half, including a 17-yard touchdown with 8:19 left in the opening quarter to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.
"This picked us up from last week and we feel good about it," Royster said.
Alex Niecikowski (118 total yards) and Andre Campbell (75 total yards) also rushed for touchdowns.
"Their staff did a nice job of being patient with the run and taking what we were giving them," said Hersey coach Dragan Teonic. "We were hoping they wouldn't be patient and that we could stop them with five in the box. We weren't good enough to do that tonight."
Aside from interceptions to Ed Beyer and Brandon Veenendaal, Milas took what the defense gave him, throwing for a modest 237 yards. The senior only threw one touchdown pass, but it was a big one as his 38-yard heave to James Grier with just 16 seconds left in the first half put the Mustangs up 21-14.
The Huskies got up 14-7 early in the second quarter thanks to 2 Quinn Orlandi touchdown runs. Orlandi finished with 211 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Hunter Rollins.
Trailing 28-21, Hersey had 2 chances in the final 4 minutes, and their first drive was stalled by sacks from Mario Lucchetto and Kevin Montero.
The Huskies got the ball back with 57 seconds remaining on their own 23-yard line and 2 completions to Ed Miklasz (11 catches, 131 yards) got them across midfield, but the Mustangs' seventh sack of the night, this one from David Sobkowicz, was a killer.
"We were looking for any cutbacks and trying to stay disciplined," Sobkowicz said. "Those guys up front love to rush the passers," Mishler said. "That fell right into their hands late in the game, and they did a great job."