The Oakton football team snapped its losing streak, warding off elimination from the Northern Region Tournament with a 20-13 victory over No. 2 Lake Braddock on Friday.
The win ended a four-game losing streak, offering the No. 7 Cougars a boost of confidence as they head into a rematch against its Concorde District foe Centreville this week.
"It feels amazing [to break the losing streak]. We knew we could do it, we knew it was important," said Mike Wandey, a senior running back and co-captain. "We had the best week of practice, honestly, that we've had all year. We came out Monday with the mentality that we were going to win. That we were the better team. I don't look at it as an upset."
The Cougars started strong against the Bruins, striking first with a 70-yard run from quarterback Kyle Downer about five minutes into the game. But the Bruins answered with a touchdown a minute later.
In the second quarter, Downer added another touchdown for the Cougars with a 5-yard run and prevented the Bruins from tying the game to hold a 14-7 lead heading into halftime.
Both sides battled after halftime, but the Bruins found the end zone first. A missed extra point attempt allowed the Cougars to maintain a one-point lead. As insurance, Downer ran in the Cougars' third touchdown for another six points and the last of the game.
Looking to strengthen their defense, the Cougars had a few key offensive players playing both ways for the first time.
"We got a spark on defense. Kyle Downer played defense for the first time all year. Mike Wandey came over played some defense for the first time all year, and that sparked us at practice," Coach Jason Rowley said. "It was a total team effort. [Our defense] was ball-hawking. They were getting to the ball, and that's the thing you have to do against a great offense like Lake Braddock."
The Cougars will face the Centreville Wildcats in a rematch of the regular season's last game. In that contest, both teams started with explosive offenses as the teams amassed four touchdowns in the first two minutes to tie the game at 14-13.
With its new approach to defense, the Cougars aim to prevent a repeat of the Nov. 2 game.
"I believe in our coaching staff. They had a great plan for us," Wandey said. "We believe in them and we believed we could beat them and that's what we did. We executed and we're going to do it again."
The Cougars and Wildcats will face off 7:30 p.m. Friday at Centreville.