The Milwaukee Mustangs may have finished their season out of the playoff picture.
But the Arena Football League team ended on a high note with some hope for the future.
The feat came with a first-ever win at Allstate Arena Saturday night, 54-41, over their Interstate rivals, the Chicago Rush.
The 'stangs close out their year with a 7-11 mark on the heels of a three-game victory streak.
The Rush, which won its division this year and will host the Dallas Vigilantes in the first round of the playoffs next week, finished the season at 13-5.
The Mustang defense came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt.
First blood came on a fumble recovery by Broderick Stewart and an interception by Brandon Brinkley on the Rush's second drive led to a touchdown and field goal, respectively.
Brinkley's INT was his fourth pick in the last three games.
D-Lineman Dwayne LeFall had two first half sacks for good measure much to the delight of the Mustang fans who paid the tolls and made their way to Illinois.
That made it a 9-0, Milwaukee.
Reggie Gray's 45th touchdown catch of the year, a seven-yarder from QB JJ Raterink, brought some life to the Rush faithful and put Chicago on the board, 9-6, and the first quarter came to an end.
Ernest Smith took a quick pitch from Milwaukee quarterback Gino Guidugli from the 10-yard line and when Garrett Lindholm chipped home the PAT, the 'stang lead was at 16-6 in the opening minutes of the second stanza.
A goal line stand gave the ball right back to the Mustangs and Mykel Benson's franchise record 17th rushing TD of the year padded the lead, 23-6, with 8:07 left in the half.
When Raterink coughed up the ball yet again, Stewart pounced on the pigskin a second time for another defensive tally for Milwaukee and a 30-6 lead with 6:49 to go.
New Rush QB Dominic Randolph joined the fray and hooked up with Gray for a 33-yard score, narrowing the gap to 30-13 with four minutes and change.
After Chicago picked off Guidugli in the end zone, Randolph used a nine-yard TD pass to (say it with me) Gray to make it 30-20.
Kelvin Rodgers' kickoff return for a score was called back due to a block in the back and the half ended with a 10-point bulge in favor of the Mustangs.
The 'stangs took the second half kick and marched right to paydirt following a 30-yard KOR by Rodgers, the final 16 yards coming on a pass from G-squared to Dwayne Eley, Jr. for a 37-20 lead.
Brinkley's second pick on the night and an unsportsmanlike flag gave Milwaukee the ball back with decent field position as it tried to build on the lead.
G-squared did just that when he found Victor Williams in the left corner of the end zone for a 31-yard touch and a 44-20 lead.
Rush wideout Charles Dillon took a pitch on fourth and one from the one to get one tally back and the third quarter ended with Mustangs in front, 44-27.
An 19-yard field goal by Lindholm on the next drive made it 47-27, but Milwaukee squandered an opportunity for a touch after failing three times from five yards out.
Reggie Gray's fourth TD grab of the evening from Raterink made it 47-34. Raterink returned to the game when Randolph left the game when he got his bell rung on a hard hit.
Guidugli added a little more cushion when he hit Eley for a 13-yard strike and with just under four minutes left it was 54-34, advantage 'stangs.
Randolph shook out the cobwebs and hit Gray from 16 yards out and the Milwaukee lead was pared back down to 13 points, 54-41, with just 2:37 left.
Eddie Davis picked off Randolph after the Rush took Lindholm's field goal attempt off the net and the issue was decided.
Season ticket, advertising and training table packages are available for 2012 at www.MkeMustangs.com or call the team's office at 414-224-4000.