When Meade suffered a humbling 40-8 loss to Arundel on Sept. 14, the Mustangs still were adjusting to a new, more zone-heavy defensive system and had yet to face a team with a potent passing attack.

On Friday night in Gambills, a much more prepared Mustangs team stunned No. 8 Wildcats in a 36-28 victory in Friday’s Maryland 4A East region semifinals. After a 3-2 start, the fourth-seeded Mustangs (9-2) have now won six straight since a 28-18 loss at Old Mill on Sept. 29. Meade will travel to Old Mill for a rematch in next week’s region final.

“You could see our confidence growing,” Meade Coach Rich Holzer said of his team’s run since a Sept. 29 loss to Old Mill. “Our practices got smoother and more efficient. … It’s translated onto the field.”

Meade broke a 14-14 tie with 22 unanswered points to end the first half, then had to hold on when Arundel pulled within one score midway through the third quarter. The Mustangs were up to the task, getting an interception in the end zone from Korey Brooks late in the third quarter, then sealing the win by converting a fake punt from their own 20-yard line with two minutes remaining.

“There was never a down head or an upset face on our sideline, even when Arundel was coming back,” Holzer said. “It was, ‘We got this.’ We never let up, and I’m proud of them.”

Meade quarterbacks Marcus Smith and Tyree Turner led the offense with a combined 175 yards passing, 118 rushing and 76 receiving. Kyle Evans added 117 rushing yards on 21 carries and Smith scored two first-quarter touchdowns for the Mustangs.

Senior quarterback Cooper Hibbs completed 22 of 31 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats (10-1) but was intercepted three times as the Mustangs picked off five passes on the night.