NEWPORT BEACH — On the game's opening drive, Talalelei Teaupa touched the ball just once, coming on the first play from scrimmage. By the time the tailback carried the ball again for Newport Harbor High, the Sailors trailed by 14 points.
Eight minutes into the Sailors' CIF Southern Section Southwest Division first-round playoff game, Troy stunned the home crowd. At one point, Troy's No. 2 outshined the home team's No. 2.
Teaupa wasn't going to play second fiddle to anyone, not in the school's first postseason opener at Davidson Field in eight years.
Newport Harbor began to feed its No. 2 and it worked. After throwing it twice on the first possession, the offense never passed again.
The Sailors didn't have to air it out because Teaupa rallied the team to a 42-21 win on Friday. They now have their first playoff triumph in five years. To get it, Teaupa stiff-armed whoever dared get in his way.
When the senior was done, Teaupa recorded 272 yards rushing. The total is the eighth-best single-game rushing performance turned in by a Newport Harbor back.
Teaupa could've piled up more yards and broken the school's No. 1 mark of 310 yards, but he sat out the entire fourth quarter.
"It feels really good," Teaupa said of getting the victory and his name in the Sailors' record book.
"I knew we were going to come back. We always do."
For the second straight week, the Sailors came back from a 14-point deficit. How they fought back against Troy was drastically different compared to last week's come-from-behind win against Los Alamitos.
Newport Harbor (7-4) let Teaupa run wild. Twenty-six times quarterback Cole Norris handed the ball off to Teaupa, two of those went for touchdowns.
"Last week, we throw for [335 yards]," said Coach Jeff Brinkley, referring to what worked for the Sailors in their 31-28 overtime win against the Griffins that clinched second place in the Sunset League. "This week, I don't know what we ran for, but I know we had a lot of yards. People are going to have to defend the whole field against us."
The Sailors are looking like contenders in their first year in the Southwest Division. They take their act on the road next week to face third-seeded Villa Park (10-1) in the quarterfinals.
Villa Park's lone loss came in a nonleague game in September against Edison, the Sunset League champion. Edison also beat the Sailors in a league opener in October.
Since then, Newport Harbor hasn't loss.
The Sailors won their fifth straight contest. The offensive line is a big reason for the team's success. The line has protected Norris, a sophomore, and has opened holes for Teaupa during the winning streak.
"That's as dominating a performance up front that we've had in a few years," said Brinkley, praising the blocking by left tackle Ramsey Hufford, left guard Andrew Williams, center Emmanuel Jogwe, right guard Joseph Zavala, right tackle Zach Cornwell, tight end Alex De Soto and fullback Marty Taylor.
"They were knocking them off the ball. "
At the start, it was Troy (7-4) winning the battle in the trenches.
Troy scored on its first two drives, each time handing the ball off to Dallas Parent, who rushed 23 times for 144 yards. The patient back found the end zone twice on short-yardage runs.