The battle of the unbeatens turned one sided pretty quickly on Tuesday afternoon at Gutheridge Field.
The Yorkton Raiders locked up the top seed and a bye into the semifinals heading into the Moose Jaw High School Football League playoffs thanks a dominating 48-0 win over the Peacock Tornadoes in the regular season finale.
The loss was the first in the regular season for Peacock in five years.
“We just made a few mistakes, execution was key (in this game) and they did it better than us today, you have to give credit to them, they’re a good football team and we just didn’t bring it today,” said Peacock quarterback Garrick Ward after the loss.
Peacock was hampered by injuries heading into the game and then suffered some more key injuries during the game. Star receiver Payton Chow was limited due to injuries and then running back Jackson Woloschuk and linebacker/fullback Dallas Lister both went down over the course of the game.
However, the injuries weren’t being used as an excuse by Peacock.
“It’s a tough situation obviously with some guys getting dinged up in the game, but full credit to Yorkton, those guys came fired up and ready to go,” said Peacock head coach Bert Redstone. “I’ve coached Senior Bowl with (Coach Jason) Boyda and he brings his guys 100 percent prepared and what did we see today, a prepared team ready to take it to us.”
The Raiders took it to the Tornadoes early as they scored on their first four possessions to jump out to a 24-0 lead just 1:20 into the second quarter. They also forced Peacock to turn the ball over on downs three times and picked up an interception for a four-turnover first half.
Yorkton kept the peddle for the metal for the rest of the opening 24 minutes and built up a 31-0 advantage heading into halftime before cruising throughout the second half with the back-ups in for both teams.
“We just had a solid game plan and executed,” said receiver/safety Matthew Mandziuk. “Our defence were ball hawks out there, there’s 12 guys at the ball all the time and we hit hard.”
The Raiders have been the bridesmaid to the Tornadoes on a number of occasions over Peacock’s five-year run of dominance in the league, but Tuesday’s win was a big one for the Yorkton program.
Mandziuk said this is a game that the team can build off going into the playoffs.
“Coming on the road and beating them here in Moose Jaw feels awesome,” said Mandziuk. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, I’ve been with the program for three years and it’s not just for these guys, but the guys past that lost to them in the city championships, it feels really good to get this win, we worked hard for this and there’s more to come.”
Ward finished the game 8-of-14 for 47 yards with two interceptions in the loss. Peacock was held to just 47 yards rushing as well in the loss.
Mandziuk led the attack for Yorkton in the win, finishing with seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, while adding one carry for 28 yards.
Yorkton quarterback Jordin Rusnack completed 13-of-20 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 44 yards and a touchdown while kicking two field goals.
The Raiders have rolled over their competition in the league over the course of the season, finishing the year with an outstanding 322 points for and just 25 points against with four shutouts in six games.
“Getting the bye week is huge,” said Mandziuk. “We’ve got a weekend off to heal up any nicks and get ready for the semifinals.”
With a loss on their record heading into the playoffs for the first time in five years, the Tornadoes are looking to use this game as motivation to spur them along for the post-season.
“Losing sucks, there’s no doubt about it, so it just makes you hungry and you want to go win,” said Ward. “We want to face these guys in the finals and take it to them.”
The Tornadoes will now meet in the Estevan Elecs in the quarterfinals this Saturday, 1 p.m., at Gutheridge Field. Estevan finished the season 0-6 after losing 44-0 to the Swift Current Colts in the regular season finale on Tuesday.
In other action on Tuesday, the Vanier Vikings went into Weyburn and lost 21-19 to the Eagles. Vanier and Weyburn finish the season with 2-4 records each. The Vikings will have a date with the 3-3 Central Cyclones in the quarterfinals this weekend, 3:15 p.m. Saturday, while the Eagles will travel to Swift Current to face the 3-3 Colts.