With nothing left to play for but pride, Metea Valley showed it had plenty Friday night in New Lenox.
The Mustangs (3-6, 2-6) played a very football sound game, running the ball, controlling the clock, capitalizing on turnovers and ultimately coming away with a 42-21 victory against Lincoln-Way Central (6-3, 4-2).
"This was it for us," said Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans. "We wanted to come in and prove how good of a football team we are. Although this was an unusual Week 9 nonconference game, this was a great opportunity for us to come in and show well for the DuPage Valley Conference."
Senior running back Alonzo Taylor-Jones started the scoring for the Mustangs with a 45-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive.
Lincoln-Way Central responded with a 61-yard run by senior Nico Muto on its first play from scrimmage.
A few plays later senior running back Mitch Hosman hit paydirt from 20 yards out, knotting the game at 7-7.
On the ensuing drive Taylor-Jones plunged into the end zone from 4 yards out on a fourth-and-2 to give the Mustangs a lead they did not relinquish.
In his final high school game Taylor-Jones accounted for 263 rushing yards on 29 carries with 3 touchdowns while also adding 1 reception for 13 yards through the air.
"I really appreciate playing with all these guys this year," Taylor-Jones said. "I consider every last one of these guys my family. It's hard that we're not going to the playoffs, but we came out and played really well as a team this game. Today was awesome, and these guys mean the world to me."
Lincoln-Way Central simply did not have an answer for Taylor-Jones and the Metea Valley offense. The Mustangs accumulated 497 yards of total offense, 19 first downs and only punted once.
Not only did the Knights have trouble stopping the ground game of Metea Valley, they also lost 3 fumbles, 2 of which lead to Mustangs touchdowns.
"We did not play a good game," said Lincoln-Way Central coach Jeremy Cordell. "We turned the ball over, we did not play well on defense. Overall, it was not our best performance."
While the Mustangs' season ended Friday night, the Knights await their next opponent in the opening round of the IHSA playoffs that are scheduled to start next week.