MAKIKI — Rico Rosario rushed for a career-high 242 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 7 Waianae to a 43-20 win over Moanalua at Roosevelt's Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium Saturday night.
The Seariders (2-3 overall) posted their second straight win after an 0-3 start to the season to improve to 2-2 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I Blue Conference despite not completing a pass. They ran for all 358 yards of their total offense and got four interceptions from its defense, including a pair that were returned for scores.
Rosario, the reigning conference offensive player of the year, carried 22 times and averaged a gaudy 11 yards per attempt. He scored on runs of 32, 16, 41 and 1 yards.
"The line was doing really good. These past couple weeks they've been off-track, but they got back on it and we should be getting back where we're supposed to be," said Rosario, who has rushed for 338 yards and six TDs on the year.
After a Moanalua three-and-out to open the game, Waianae promptly marched 78 yards in seven plays — all runs — capped by Rosario's 32-yard touchdown run about five minutes into the contest.
Two plays prior, Rosario picked up 43 yards on a toss right, following a wall of blockers along the right sideline. On the scoring play, he took the handoff from quarterback Ethan Lujan on a counter left before breaking a tackle just beyond the line of scrimmage and outracing the rest of the defense to the left pylon.
The Seariders defense then took center stage, chipping in with a pair of pick-6s. Linebacker Kanai Mauga snatched a Nick Au pass out of midair while covering the left flat and went untouched down the left sideline for a 17-yard interception return for touchdown.
Moanalua's next possession ended in similar fashion. Au was picked off by defensive back Braiden Ayala, who took it 46 yards the other way for another defensive score. Ayala then threw the successful two-point conversion pass to Mauga to stretch Waianae's lead to 22-0 with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
"I read that he was running an out," Ayala said of his interception. "We scouted them the whole week — they ran hitches — so then I undercut the ball then I saw green light."
Ayala went right back to work on defense, picking off Au's next pass attempt three plays later and returning it to the Moanalua 24-yard line. However, a holding penalty after the change of possession brought the ball back to the 34.
Four plays later, on third-and-3, Rosario broke a pair of tackles on a toss left before powering his way into the end zone on the 16-yard score. Tate Ebel tacked on the extra point and two plays into the second quarter, the Seariders held a 29-0 advantage.
Rosario, who had 106 rushing yards after his first six carries, credited the defense for making plays.
"Man, they do a lot for us. I think we have one of the best defenses in the state, to be honest, and I can't thank them enough for just holding out teams and keeping our team on their backs," Rosario said.
The score held until the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, when Rosario stiff-armed, the high-stepped his way past three defenders for a 41-yard TD jaunt.
Na Menehune QB Nick Au (7) had a rough evening, making four completions to the wrong team, two of which were returned for scores.
Moanalua got on the board early in the fourth quarter on Tre'quan Henderson's 45-yard scoop-and-score. Ezra Grace's 5-yard TD pass from Au and his 2-yard TD run were sandwiched around Rosario's fourth trip to the end zone in the closing minutes of the game.
Late in the game, Au was injured after sustaining a late hit from a Waianae player — who was penalized for targeting, and consequently ejected — and did not return.
"Momentarily he lost some feeling or whatever it is, but he's okay. Everything is fine," Moanalua coach Savaii Eselu said of Au. "Pretty much we're going to have him back."
Au finished 13-of-33 passing for 145 yards and four interceptions. Grace finished with a game-high seven receptions for 66 yards.
Eselu said the 36-point hole his found itself in after three quarters was too much to overcome.
"We started slow again. We ended up picking it up after, but it was too late," said Eselu, whose team fell to 0-3 in league play and 0-4 overall. "We just gotta start strong and we just gotta follow the game plan, but if that happens we should be within striking distance, at least."
With starter Justin Tacgere unavailable to play for Waianae Saturday, Lujan got the starting nod at quarterback, but did not complete any of his four pass attempts. Kenneth Joseph, Jr. also saw time at quarterback. Both are listed on the roster as running backs.
"Our quarterback kind of got dinged up a couple of days ago in practice — he kind of took a wrong step — so he had a hard time walking so we did what we had to do," Waianae coach Walter Young said. "We put the other guy in, he got the job done, but we gotta get better. We gotta minimize mistakes."
The Seariders fumbled six times, but lost just one of those, and committed 15 penalties for 165 yards — including six 15-yard personal fouls.
"We put up a bunch of points early. They're a good team, but we gotta stay on it," Young said. "We gotta stay on it and we gotta stop losing focus, so as a team we'll go back and we'll reassess that and then we'll take care of all that."
Waianae will visit Radford Saturday, while Moanalua will have a bye next week before visiting Aiea on Sept. 15.
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