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A week after snapping a 44-game losing streak that stretched back to the seventh week of the 2008 season, East Aurora was dead set on proving to Metea Valley that these really weren't the same old Tomcats.
They made that abundantly clear in sprinting to a 21-14 lead after one quarter, but the Mustangs eventually wore their hosts down on the way to a 52-28 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division victory.
"I was telling my teammates all week that East Aurora is not the team they've been in the past," said Metea junior running back/receiver Bryson Oliver. "They were coming off a big win, it was their homecoming and we knew they'd come out strong, and they punched us in the mouth."
Actually, it was more of a counterpunch, since the Mustangs (4-3, 4-1) opened the scoring when Christian Wilcox returned the game's opening kickoff 93 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. From there, though, the Tomcats (1-6, 0-4) scored on three straight possessions with workhorse back Jamaria Littleton posting a pair of 2-yard TD runs sandwiched around Nathan Booker's 24-yard sprint, while the Mustangs countered with Malcolm Nelson's 28-yard run to paydirt in the high-scoring quarter.
At the end of the quarter, Littleton already had 87 yards rushing, while the Tomcats rolled up 170 total yards and 9 first downs.
"All credit goes to East Aurora, their players and coaching staff," said Metea coach Ben Kleinhans. "We knew they'd have momentum coming off last week and they flat out came and went after it."
The Mustangs defense — led by Mikqual Pines, Malcolm Charles, Nick Kohut and Ryan Cotter — responded to the challenge, however, as they allowed only 128 yards and one score over the final three quarters, 70 of which came on a third-quarter drive that Booker capped with a 10-yard TD run.
By that time the Mustangs had moved ahead 35-21 with Oliver contributing a 23-yard scoring run and 40-yard TD pass from Blaise Bell on the way to 118 yards rushing and 68 receiving in his most complete performance of the season.
"It's the best I ran all year since I haven't had much time in the backfield since I was playing mostly slot receiver," Oliver said. "We practiced all week getting me more carries."
"He's a kid we have to get touches because he's a playmaker," Kleinhans added. "He got it going and when he gets his confidence going he's tough to stop."
After the Tomcats crept within 35-28, Metea blew the game open on 8- and 48-yard touchdown passes from Bell to Nick Dodson, while Mike Sfikas closed the scoring with a 30-yard field goal.
The win put the Mustangs on the verge of history. A victory over Geneva or Waubonsie Valley in the final two weeks of the season would not only guarantee the program's first winning season but also likely lock up a playoff berth.