Conventional wisdom dictated that the Vernon Verona Sherrill football team had to rely on its high-octane passing attack to beat archrival Oneida.
Yet when that didn't work, the Red Devils went back to the ground - and found it to be the path to victory.
Led by Colin Way and Dylan Guider, VVS put together a 21-16 victory over the Indians Friday Night on Oneida's home field and, by doing so, grabbed a piece of the B East regular-season title.
It also culminated a season-long turnaround on VVS's part, as many of the same players that suffered through a 1-6 campaign in 2008 came up with a 6-1 mark this fall.
Four teams - VVS, Oneida, South Jefferson and Chittenango - came into the last weekend of the regular season tied for first in B East.
With the Bears beating the Spartans 35-24 a few miles up Route 5, Oneida had a chance to gain the top spot in the league, since it beat Chittenango head-to-head.
Knowing this, the Indians began with a unique defensive front - three linemen, five linebackers. It was all designed to disrupt the rhythm of VVS quarterback Tyler Mautner, and it worked to perfection.
In all, Mautner tried seven passes in the first half. Each of them fell incomplete. And the ground game didn't do much, either, as VVS got a grand total of 23 yards in the first half.
As a result, Oneida had all kinds of time to put points on the board and take early control of the game. Twice, the Indians drove inside the red zone. Both times, though, the Red Devils turned them away, once at the 14-yard line after a 16-play march, then again at the VVS nine.
So they went to halftime 0-0, and VVS was set to kick off for the second half, so it wouldn't get an immediate chance to break out of its offensive drought.