When it didn’t rain, it poured on the Chula Vista Spartans in last Friday’s San Diego Section Division I playoff game against the visiting Rancho Buena Vista Longhorns.
The sixth-seeded Spartans, up early 21-7, carried a 27-24 lead into halftime after both teams reeled off big plays amid lengthy downpours in their first-round encounter. But it was the 11th-seeded Longhorns who produced the big plays in the second half as the rain abated.
RBV rolled up 28 unanswered points in the second half to cruise to a 52-33 upset victory.
The Longhorns (6-5) continue their playoff odyssey with a quarterfinal match-up Friday at third-seeded Grossmont (8-2).
The playoff win was a huge one for RBV, which finished 0-10 last season.
Power rusher Nico Cortez scored five touchdowns to lead the Longhorns, who out-scored the Spartans 45-6 during one stretch.
“It’s crazy to believe we made it this far,” Cortez told a KUSI-TV news crew after the game.
Chula Vista, which started the season 4-0 but cooled off somewhat with a 2-4 mark in its last six regular season games, enjoyed good fortune early on as Brandon Gill returned the opening kickoff 60 yards to the RBV 30-yard line.
The Spartans’ own power runner, senior Jevante Reed, promptly moved the ball to the 15-yard line and scored on a five-yard run three plays later.
With just 1:03 elapsed in the game, the hosts held a 7-0 lead.
Cortez responded with a one-yard plunge to knot the teams at a touchdown apiece with 4:48 left in the opening quarter.
But Gill took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give Chula Vista a 14-7 edge.
After forcing a punt, the Spartans (6-5) got the ball back and Reed broke off a 59-yard sideline run into RBV territory.
Heavy rains then drove many from the home side bleachers to search for cover. However, Reed drove straight ahead for a seven-yard score for a 21-7 lead.
The slick conditions then started to wreak havoc.
Backed up on their own three-yard line, Reed fumbled a pitch in the end zone, leading to a two-point safety for the visitors: 21-9.
Cortez returned the free kick to the Spartan 39-yard-line and the RBV onslaught began.
Cortez scored on a two-yard run with 7:56 remaining in the second quarter to narrow the CV lead to 21-16.
Penalties by the hosts helped the Longhorns on their next drive, which ended with a one-yard TD run by Reece Conney. Cortez then ran in the two-point conversion for a 24-21 lead with 1:28 to play before halftime.
The sloppy conditions benefitted both teams, however, as Reed broke loose for an 80-yard score with just 14 seconds left in the half. The two-point conversion failed, but the Spartans led 27-24.
The hosts would not score again until 12.9 seconds left in the game when CV’s reserves banded together. Kevin Ayers passed four yards to Ernesto Jaimes for the touchdown, which was set up by a 51-yard carry by Jaylon Candler.
A punt return to the Spartan 30 set up RBV’s first touchdown of the second half, scored by Conney on a one-yard run. Score it 31-27 Longhorns.
The visitors’ next touchdown was set up by a turnover as Malique Taylor sacked CV quarterback Ricky Estevez to force a fumble and Jose Carranza picked up the loose ball and returned it to the five-yard line. Cortez scored from one yard out and it was suddenly 38-27.
Despite coughing up two unanswered TDs in half a quarter, the Spartans still appeared to be in the game. In fact, the hosts appeared to make it a one score game when Estevez hit Richard Walker for a 72-yard breakaway score.
But a late flag nullified the TD.
The Longhorns scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Cortez ripped off a 24-yard run with 5:45 left in the game and tacked on a five-yard TD run with 3:52 to play.
Cortez rushed for 287 yards in the game as RBV piled up 419 yards in total offense.
Fumble recoveries set up three of the Longhorns’ second-half TDs.
Reed entered the game having rushed for 1,391 yards with a team-leading 18 touchdowns. However, he failed to win the battle in the second half against the visitors’ physically imposing defensive line.
The Spartans closed out the season having allowed 108 points in their last two games. Chula Vista dropped a 56-17 non-league decision to visiting Tesoro in its final regular season game a week earlier.
Estevez completed five of 10 passing attempts for just 57 yards. He lost three fumbles.
Reed racked up 205 rushing yards on 24 carries; the Spartans finished with 274 rushing yards.
The CV kicking game was minimal under the adverse conditions — Hui Wolfgramm was credited with punts of 20 and 28 yards.
The Spartan return game, however, paid dividends as Gill finished a memorable night with six returns for 209 yards.
Reed finished the season with 1,596 rushing yards and a team-leading 21 touchdowns.
In other first-round playoff games last Friday:
Host Otay Ranch was up early, 17-14, but the Carlsbad Lancers (5-6) stormed back to win the first-round match-up 49-29. Kyle Hawkins passed and ran for a score while Chris Martin scored on a fumble return for the Mustangs (6-5).
The Citrus League champion Calvary Christian Royal Knights hosted the fifth-seeded La Jolla Country Day Torres (7-3) in a mismatch that went to the visitors 70-6. Justin Harrison rushed for 131 yards and one TD for Calvary (8-3).