Oceanside’s Mikah Holder finds running room against Eastlake on Friday night. The Pirates staged a furious second-half rally to win 33-30.
CHULA VISTA Despite being down by 23 points at the half, Oceanside quarterback Matthew Romero believed when his teammates and coaches told him the Pirates could still rally.
“I knew after we scored our second touchdown we could win,” said the junior.
When Jackson Koonce converted a 19-yard field goal in the closing seconds, he completed a spectacular comeback as Oceanside stunned host Eastlake 33-30, earning a rematch with Mission Hills in the inaugural Open Division championship Dec. 2 at Qualcomm Stadium.
“There was still a whole half to go, and the way the defense was playing, I knew we had a chance,” said Romero, who completed 19 of 34 for 308 yards and TDs of 4 yards to Thai Cottrell and 72 yards to Mikah Holder.
“To tell you the truth, this means more than winning the section championship last year because we get to go to the Q.”
The rally was a complete reversal of the first 24 minutes. It’s one thing to have a 100-yard rusher by halftime, it’s still another to have two. That’s what the Titans had in building a 30-7 lead.
Isaiah Strayhorn’s first two carries gave him 99 yards and he added 22 more before intermission. Two-way standout Isiah Olave backed up his 64-yard run with a 7-yard TD, adding another 26-yard gain to set up a Dean Klaser 4-yard scoring run as he walked off the field at the break with 109 yards.
The only score by the Pirates was a gift.
With the rain still pounding, Eastlake was forced to punt from its 36. The ball was snapped over the head of the kicker and went out of bounds on the 1. Oceanside scored to make it 14-7.
On the second play after the kickoff, Olave broke his 64-yarder.
But injuries to Olave and Strayhorn in the third quarter — especially Olave, who was the heart of the defense as well as the offense — just fueled the Oceanside comeback.
Meanwhile, the Oceanside defense — led by 305-pound Jalene Golston, Rafael Cabral and Isaac Dixon — took over in the second half to give Romero the opportunity to pull out the victory.