Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 | 11:59 p.m.
Casey Acosta scored two first-quarter touchdowns today for the Chaparral High football team, giving them the lead for good in a 34-12 win against visiting Mojave in the first round of the Division I-A Southern Region playoffs.
Mojave beat Chaparral in the first game of the season, but the Cowboys won when it counted most. It was their first playoff win since the mid-1990s.
And if the Cowboys can win again next week, taking on Faith Lutheran on the road, they would advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1990.
“It’s so surreal,” Chaparral quarterback Andrew Solis posted on Twitter.
Solis passed for a pair of touchdowns, connecting with Acosta for an 80-yard scoring strike for a 13-0 Chaparral lead late in the first quarter. Later, Solis hooked up with Richard Nelson for another long scoring play.
Richard Hernandez scored on a punt return for Chaparral, which improves to 8-2 overall.
It had been so long since Chaparral had won a playoff game that coach Paul Nihapali, who has been with the program in some capacity for most of the past two decades, wasn't certain when they last advanced in the postseason. He estimated it was 17 or 18 years between playoff wins, especially since last season the Cowboys qualified for the postseason for the first time in eight seasons.
Players such as Nelson and Hernandez have been key contributors since their sophomore seasons. Their legacy now includes a playoff win.
“We’ve had those kids three and four years. They know what the expectations are,” Nihapali said. “Once they buy into the system it trickles down the rest of the kids.”
Khalid Walker had a touchdown run in the third quarter for Mojave to trim its deficit to 20-6, but Chaparral scored the next two touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
Chaparral will have its hands full duplicating the effort against Faith Lutheran, who has won nine straight games and is the three-time Sunset League champion.
“They are a strong and well disciplined team,” Nihapali said. “They have good schemes and the right personnel in the right positions. We know we have a big job in our hands. Faith has been to the dance before; we haven’t.”