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And so the Patriots extended their winning streak in Fairfax to 18 games, including four this season. In the process, they head into their first conference game – Saturday at Towson – with a three-game winning streak.

They also know they can beat a capable foe dedicated to slowing down Pearson, a valuable bit of knowledge as Mason delves deeper into its schedule.

“We’re going to play through Ryan,” Hewitt said. “He’s mature enough now to understand when to pass it.”

And Mason, even with injuries and fluctuating personnel, is mature enough to take advantage of it.