MEBANE — They all count the same, but this one meant more.

Western Alamance didn’t shy away from the importance and the excitement of its 37-34 victory against Mid-State 3-A Conference rival Eastern Alamance on Thursday night.

"During the season, we take it week by week. This game we always have in the back of our mind," Warriors quarterback Bradyn Oakley said. "It’s a huge rivalry game. I just love it. Love to beat them again."

It was a night that started well for the Warriors (8-1 overall, 5-0 Mid-State 3-A Conference) and ended even better — with a rivalry win and still in solo possession of the conference lead.

"We’ve won 19 of the last 25 games we’ve played in this series. I attribute that to our culture, our players, our coaches, our fans, our community, because we just get ready for this," Western Alamance coach Jeff Snuffer said. "Obviously, they’re bringing the best out in us. I think we bring the best out in them. That’s why these are two good football programs, because we want to beat each other so bad, but it makes each other better."

The Warriors did it again with the help of stellar special teams.

"I can’t say enough about their kicker. I thought that was the difference in the football game," Eastern Alamance coach John Kirby said. "We’re on a (long) field most of the night. If we had the opportunity to be (on a short) field, we’d have an opportunity to make things happen."

Warriors kicker Joshua Karty made three field goals. Punter Landon Fogleman averaged 41 yards a punt with a long of 59.

"I thought our special teams was huge. We changed field position with our kickoffs and with our punter," Snuffer said. "We hit enough field goals to win by three points, so that was big."

The Western Alamance defense blasted the Eastern Alamance offensive line early on, but the Eagles (6-3, 3-2) mounted a fourth-quarter rally to cut a 17-point deficit to three.

"That was the thing — we got pressure on them early, and we kept kicking field goals, but they were never out of it. That just shows you how good they are," Snuffer said. "We could’ve maybe blown out (the lead) earlier on, but then their defense stepped up."

Eastern Alamance trailed 13-0 after the first quarter.

"I’m not sure if we made any adjustments or we just kind of settled in a little bit," Eastern Alamance coach John Kirby said. "I think that they came out and hit us in the mouth and they dominated us up front."

The Eagles marched down the field for two touchdowns in the closing minutes, but an onside kick was recovered by Western Alamance.

"Great football game. Western’s got an outstanding football team," Kirby said. "I was proud of our guys for coming back. We were down and made a run at it. We can build off that."

Oakley scored three touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards. He added 114 yards through the air.

Oakley, who also plays linebacker, said part of the defensive game-plan was to stop Eastern Alamance running back Colby May and force junior quarterback Austin Bryant to make plays. Bryant did exactly that, totaling 338 yards and four touchdowns on 23-for-34 passing.

"He was phenomenal. We put that quarterback on his back a lot. Some guys would shut down. He kept fighting," Snuffer said. "He threw one touchdown pass as he was falling back. He’s a competitor. He’s fun to watch. He is truly a handful."

Spencer Wood and Jadyn Neal each scored for the Warriors. Neal finished with 83 receiving yards.

Eastern Alamance’s Josh Robinson caught two touchdown passes. Zach Dixon and Jayden Daye each caught one. Dixon grabbed five passes for 128 receiving yards. May scored the Eagles’ first touchdown.