NEWPORT BEACH — Midway through the second quarter, half of the stadium lights at Newport Harbor High went out. Maybe it was a sign for Marina to head home early on Thursday night.
Whenever a football team has faced the Vikings in Sunset League play since 2005, it has been a sure win for the opponent.
Newport Harbor hopes its 37-0 shutout of Marina guarantees the Sailors a berth into the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs. They certainly moved a step closer to qualifying for the postseason for the fourth straight year.
The Sailors, ranked No. 8 in the Southwest Division, improved to 3-1 in league. With one league game left against Los Alamitos, Newport Harbor appears to be in the driver's seat to claim one of the league's three automatic berths into the playoffs.
Going into Thursday, Newport Harbor shared second place with Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach. The Sailors hold the head-to-head advantage against the Oilers.
Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach meet on Friday, and the winner gets to stay in second place with the Sailors.
"If [the Griffins] win [at Huntington Beach], then we would be at least third [in league]. The game next week with Los Al and us would be for second and third, unless Edison gets beat," said Coach Jeff Brinkley, who didn't have to worry much about getting past Marina.
"It was a little relief to get a game that we had a little room at the end of the game, instead of right down to the wire."
Unlike the past two league contests, which were decided by a combined 10 points, Newport Harbor was never challenged by the Vikings.
The Sailors, who are 5-4 overall, are above .500 for the first time this year. They have reeled off three straight league wins for only the second time since rejoining the Sunset League six years ago.
Since being blanked by the first-place Chargers (7-1, 3-0 in league) in the league opener, Newport Harbor has turned it around. The ground game has been dominant during the winning streak.
Tailback Talalelei Teaupa rushed 24 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns. In the past three games, the senior has amassed 518 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
During the three-game stretch, the Newport Harbor defense has excelled as well, allowing just 10.3 points per game. The latest outing was a shutout by the Sailors, their first of the year.
The Vikings have not only struggled winning in league, as they dropped their 40th straight league contest, they haven't scored many points this season in league.
Three points is all Marina (3-6, 0-4) has to show in four league games. The Sailors produced three points four minutes into the opening quarter when Michael Schultz converted a 27-yard field goal.
The Sailors found the end zone on their next three possessions and took a 23-0 lead. Teaupa rushed for a 14-yard score, followed by quarterback Cole Norris connecting with receiver Quest Truxton on a 41-yard score, and then Teaupa breaking off a 47-yard run for a score.
Newport Harbor began to turn the lights off on Marina, until the lights actually went out with 6:38 left in the second quarter. The only side of the field with the lights still on was Marina's sideline.
"We knew [the lights] were going to come back on," Brinkley said. "It's just one of those things that happen [with a] high school football stadium."
The game was delayed 21 minutes, until the lights came back on.
When the game resumed, the story remained the same. The Sailors continued to control Marina, allowing only 58 yards of total offense.