Poway's Derek Babiash (right) wrestles what appeared to be a sure interception from Oceanside’s Ryshaud Keegan for a 41-yard pickup.
ESCONDIDO Oceanside coach John Carroll guaranteed the team wearing green would win Saturday’s San Diego Section Division II championship game.
Again this season, as they have been so many times, Carroll’s green-clad Pirates prevailed, beating Poway’s green — last year’s Division I champion — 32-10 at Escondido High.
Since 1995, the Pirates have won 12 section championships under Carroll, including seven in a row from 2004-2010. Oceanside lost to Helix in last year’s Division II title game. Since 1963, the Pirates have played in 20 title games, winning 14.
“This never gets old,” Carroll said. “Tofi (Paopao, the Pirates’ quarterback) played fantastic. Thai (Cottrell, the team’s running back) was awesome.
“The defense was outstanding. It was a complete game for us in all facets, other than the kicking.”
Top-seeded Oceanside (12-1) led 20-10 at the half despite giving away four points.
The Pirates’ first drive ended on a bad snap on a 28-yard field-goal attempt. There was another bad snap on a PAT attempt after William Gulley scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter.
No. 3-seeded Poway (10-3) answered with a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal by Jordan Choukair midway through the second quarter.
The drive was kept alive when Derek Babiash wrestled what appeared to be a sure interception from Oceanside’s Ryshaud Keegan for a 41-yard pickup on a third-and-12.
Then the fireworks began.
Oceanside scored on a 2-yard Gulley run with 1:29 to play, putting the Pirates up 13-3. But Poway’s Brandon Lucas, on his only carry of the half, swept right, stepped out of a tackle at the corner and raced 80 yards for a score with 1:16 to play.
Oceanside appeared content to run out the clock until Paopao hit Jace Whittaker for a 40-yard gain. Then on fourth-and-10 at the Poway 46, Paopao hit Cottrell for 26 yards to the 14.
Gulley then took a dump pass over the middle and bulled his way into the end zone with 0:19 left.
“I wasn’t expecting to score on that play,” Gulley said. “I wasn’t even expecting the ball. It just worked out.”
Gulley finished with four TDs — three rushing, one receiving — nine tackles on defense and a sack.
“We knew if we came together as a team,” Gulley said, “all this was achievable. This is great.”
Oceanside took control in the third quarter, scoring on a 17-yard pass from Paopao to Whittaker and again on a 2-yard run by Gulley after a 47-yard punt return by Cottrell.
Paopao completed 13 of 21 passes for 266 yards.
“Today I did feel like I proved myself as a quarterback, as a leader, getting my team another championship,” Paopao said. “I felt like I played my best game.”"