The playoffs are a different beast and the Moose Jaw Vikings found that out on Thursday night as the Moose Jaw Minor Football League's peewee division playoffs opened up.
The Vikings went 5-1 in the regular season on their way to a second place finish, but they were pushed to the limit by the Moose Jaw Mustangs in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Vikings running back Tayden Hardwicke scored two touchdowns as they knocked off the Mustangs, 12-8, in a hard-fought game at Elks Field.
"We came out pretty slow off the bat, but we picked it up as we got later in the game," said Hardwicke. "We just didn't have a great game, but our defence outworked their offence and we came out on top."
On a chilly fall night, both teams were pushing hard to advance in the playoffs.
The Vikings played stout defence throughout the game to hold the Mustangs out of the end zone.
Hardwicke opened the scoring late in the first half when he scored on a seven-yard touchdown run. He would add his second touchdown in the second half to make it a 12-0 game and give the Vikings some breathing room.
That separation didn't last long as Cashton Seaborg took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown to give the Mustangs some life.
"It was exciting when I got the touchdown," said Seaborg after the game. "I was just looking to go up that lane and hoping that nobody was after me to get my feet."
The Mustangs' defence was able to force a couple of turnovers over the final few minutes, but the Vikings' defence stood tall to make sure they stayed in front and sealed off the win.
Hardwicke finished with 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win.
"They really brought a good battle, it was a back-and-forth game, they made some great stops on defence and great runs on offence, but we battled back hard to come out on top," said Hardwicke.
Mustangs running back Brady Ross had 58 rushing yards, including breaking off a 20-yard run in the second half of Thursday's loss.
The other quarterfinal game on Thursday saw the Assiniboia Rockets knock-off the Weyburn Ravens, 38-30, in the third vs fourth-place game.
The Vikings will now take on the Rockets in the semifinal next week.
Coming up on Friday night, the Moose Jaw Lions host the Estevan Chargers in the sixth vs seventh place game in the peewee division. The winner of that will take on the first place Weyburn Eagles in the semifinals.
The Bantam Division Playoffs also open up on Friday with the first place Moose Jaw Razorbacks hosting the fourth place Estevan Oilers in the semifinals at 8 p.m. at Elks Field.
The second place Weyburn Falcons take on the third place Swift Current Steelers on Saturday at 1 p.m.