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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveSeptember 26, 2014, 6:46am
Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ Nanakuli [ 7:30 pm ]
NANAKULI — It took Makaila Haina-Horswill a little over a half to get things going Friday night, but when he did, he was an unstoppable force.
Haina-Horswill rushed for a game-high 130 yards and three second-half touchdowns to rally Nanakuli to a 28-21 win over Pearl City before a homecoming crowd of about 1,200 fans. His 34-yard touchdown run provided the Golden Hawks the go-ahead score with two minutes and 40 seconds left in the game.
"We had to protect the house," said Haina-Horswill, who carried just four times for 33 yards before halftime. "We just had to play hard — I know we didn't come out good in the first half — but in the second half, we made it ours."
Nanakuli, which entered the game ranked sixth in the ScoringLive/OC16 Division II Power Rankings, improved to 6-0 and sits atop the nine-team Oahu Interscholastic Association D2 standings.
"Today was a battle," Golden Hawks' coach Keala Watson said. "Coming into the game, I told the guys that we are two evenly-matched teams and the team that wants it more and makes bigger plays, that will be the difference."
The fourth-ranked Chargers, who came into the game tied with Watson's squad at 5-0, held a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and a 21-7 advantage at halftime. However, the Nanakuli defense posted a second-half shutout while Haina-Horswill and the offense scored 21 unanswered points to complete the comeback.
"If we went head-to-head four quarters, it would end up being a tie — that's how close our teams are — but our guys dug deep," Watson said. "They showed the fire in their eyes and their willingness to prove to everyone that we belong on the same field as anyone else."
Watson said he didn't make many adjustments over the course of the game, but credited his players for finding a way. He cited senior lineman Lyle Tuiloma's halftime speech to his teammates in the locker room that sparked the rally.
"These kids just wanted it and the one thing they'll never do is they'll never give up on us," said Watson, who is in his second season as coach at his alma mater. "At the half it was kind of good that we were down because it shows character and that we can dig deep when we need it."
Haina-Horswill's first touchdown — a 5-yard run up the gut — capped Nanakuli's first possession of the second half. One play earlier, quarterback Kale Kanehailua extended the drive with a 23-yard completion to Isain Wong on a fourth-and-long.
Pearl City clung to a 21-14 lead until the 9:39 mark in the fourth quarter when Haina-Horswill scampered for a 20-yard score up the middle to culminate a nine-play drive. Clifford Cunningham tacked on the PAT to tie it at 21.
Nanakuli benefitted from three pivotal penalties against Pearl City on the drive. The Chargers were whistled for encroachment prior to a 3rd-and-2 and were twice flagged for roughing the passer on third-and-long situations.
"That's uncharacteristic of us and we've got to get better at that, (but) that's on me. I've got to coach these kids up better," said Pearl City coach Robin Kami, who refused to use the untimely penalties as an excuse. "They were all good calls."
After the Chargers' punted away on their ensuing possession, the Golden Hawks orchestrated the game-winning drive. They marched 92 yards on nine plays in just three minutes and eight seconds, topped off with Haina-Horswill's 34-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1.
Haina-Horswill lined up to the right of Kanehailua in the shotgun, took the handoff and found a hole in the left side of the defense before outracing everyone to the end zone.
"All I was thinking was touchdown," Haina-Horswill said of the play. "I had the confidence in my line to take me there."
Pearl City got the ball back with 2:32 to play at its own 47-yard line. The Chargers drove to the Nanakuli 23, but fumbled and Haina-Horswill — who was playing middle linebacker at the time — was there to recover it. Kanehailua took a knee to run out the clock.
"It was nice to get this win because it was our homecoming and senior night," Haina-Horswill said.
Watson had plenty of praise for his running back.
"I guess he could kind of be the poster child of that 'never quit' attitude," Watson said of Haina-Horswill. "I mean, he's undersized, he's not the fastest guy, but he just makes up for all of it with grit. The load that he has to shoulder is real big because our offense depends on him a lot."
Pearl City's prolific running back, Dominic Maneafaiga, had 94 rushing yards on 19 carries to go with four receptions for 78 yards. He caught a pair of first-half touchdown passes from Jordan Taamu, who finished 13-of-24 passing for 166 yards. Taamu and Garrett Kanamu hooked up for the game's first score on a 4-yard touchdown pass, but the Chargers' wide receivers didn't do Taamu any favors by dropping at least five passes throughout the game.
"It was a tough loss to swallow, but it's part of the game and hopefully we can regroup and come back next week," Kami said.
Pearl City fell to 5-1 and concludes the regular season with games against Kalani and Kalaheo. Nanakuli finishes with road games against Radford and Kalani.
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