A playoff berth is at stake for the New Westminster Hyacks varsity high school football team this week.
The Hyacks are in a must-win scenerio when they meet West Vancouver at William Griffin Park this Friday.
Last week, New Westminster played a better game than the score would indicate before dropping a 34-13 decision to No. 4-ranked Vancouver College at home.
Big plays by VC spoiled the Hyacks' chance of an upset as four of the Vancouver independent's five touchdowns came from 50 yards or longer.
New West trailed College 20-13 in the fourth quarter, but Liam Mahara, who had four of his team's majors, rattled off a 55-yard TD and Andrew Pauls added another from 66 yards to put the game out of reach.
"It was a close game. Our kids played with them," said Hyacks' head coach Farhan Lalji.
New West answered an opening-game touchdown drive with an opportunistic score by lineman Harper Sherman.
The 6-4 junior recovered a Tommy Robertson fumble on the five-yard line and went in for a lineman's dream score.
Angelo Tanjuaquio also scored for New West on a one-yard run that had the Hyacks trailing just 14-13 at halftime.
The New West defence allowed Van College just one TD in the third quarter, despite having the visitors at third-and-long on three separate occasions on the drive.
In the fourth quarter, the Hyacks had a promising drive into the Irish red zone fizzle out on downs.
Tanjuaquio rushed for 64 yards, while Pavan Mrock added 48 on 10 carries.
Robertson scrambled for 29 yards and completed eight passes for just over 100 yards.
Tristan Sands was Robertson's main target, hauling in seven passes for 91 yards, his longest a 45-yard catch.
"Defensively, we did some good things," said Lalji despite the mid-week injuries to running back Aldrin Asuncion and tackle leader Jordan Chin.
"We made them work most of the time. ... We protected the ball better. Given the lineup, the guys responded. They kept fighting. We made them work. I'm proud of the team's resolve."
New West has turned in solid performances against Centennial and College after less-than-stellar outings at Tweedsmuir and Notre Dame, but have been unable to convert them into points.
Friday's game versus West Van will be a true test, said Lalji.
"We've got to win next week," he said. "Time is ticking away. But I do believe we are getting better. We have to take a step and we're ready."
Game time Friday at the North Vancouver park is 2:30 p.m.