Patience paid off for the Roosevelt football team Friday night — in all three phases of the game.
The Rough Riders overcame a slow start on offense to score 30 unanswered points in come-from-behind fashion to turnback Kalani, but all the talk after the homecoming victory was about the defense.
Roosevelt turned in a stout defensive performance, holding the Falcons scoreless for the final three quarters and limiting them to just 175 yards of total offense.
The key, according to the Rough Riders, was focusing their efforts on Kalani's play-making quarterback, Seth Tina-Soberano.
"We worked on trying to contain the kid. He's an awesome quarterback and I told our coach that, ‘he's going to get his yards, (but) we gotta contain him and our guys gotta break down,' " Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said. "We weren't looking for the big hits. We just had to contain the guy and just bring him down any way we can, but he's a good quarterback."
The plan worked to perfection as Tina-Soberano, who entered the weekend with 1,330 passing yards, 241 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns, was held to 112 yards through the air on 10-of-30 passing and a mere five yards on the ground, despite 19 carries.
"That's not bad, man," Kahooilihala said. "Our defensive coaches did a hell of a job the past two weeks, and that bye kind of helped us to heal, too."
Senior Isaiah Rosa registered 1 1/2 of his team's four sacks on Tina-Soberano.
"I feel like we had a good game plan," Rosa said. "As a (defensive) tackle, I wanted to control the outside contain and try to force him inward and make the D-line work. We were practicing as a team these past two weeks just to execute against that quarterback and (limit) his rushing yards."
Even Tina-Soberano's counterpart, Roosevelt QB Shastyn Kekahuna, quickly turned the attention to the defense in a post-game interview Friday.
"The defense knew they had to step up against him and it feels great because we prepared for two weeks for Seth, to contain him, because he's really a playmaker on their team and we had to play our best," said Kekahuna, who accounted for three touchdowns in the win.
After going three-and-out and punting away on its first four offensive possessions, Roosevelt orchestrated a 19-play, 80-yard drive that took six minutes and 17 seconds off the clock.
The Rough Riders got the ball to start the drive off a Jared Elwin interception of Tina-Soberano in his own end zone and it culminated with Kekahuna's 2-yard TD run. It was Elwin's third interception of the season and second in as many weeks.
Perhaps no single play further epitomized Roosevelt's patience paying off than Kekahuna's 38-yard TD pass to Tasi Sofakini early in the fourth quarter. With the Falcons' defense keying on the Rough Riders' veer-option run game, Kekahuna perfectly executed the play-action pass to find a wide-open Sofakini over the middle.
"We just did what we do: just pound the ball in, and then throw it when we can," Kekahuna said.
Early in the second half, the Rough Riders successfully executed a fake punt on fourth-and-4 that resulted in a 25-yard run by Myka Kukahiwa — who was aligned as an upback on the play — to move the chains. One play later, Kukahiwa found pay dirt on a 32-yard run off right tackle to give his team a 14-10 lead.
"We work on that every day at practice," said Kahooilihala, who credited special teams coordinator Arnold Morgado for the play call.
"He's always asking when we can do it and finally I told him, ‘let's go for it. Let's do it,' and it was the perfect timing for it."
The win pushed the Rough Riders to 3-3 on the season and into sole possession of fourth place in the eight-team Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II standings. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Waialua on Oct. 6.
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