OIA Football
Aiea turns over Radford in the second half


Fri, Aug 9, 2019 @ Aiea [ 7:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
RAD (0-8-0) 7 12 0 019
AIEA (1-8-0) 0 7 6 2134
Kayson Castillo 198 yd 1 TD
Jiovanni Tafisi 189 yd 1 TD
Javon Miller 130 yd 2 TD
Danneh Alpha 30 yd 1 TD
Josh Canosa 165 yd 1 TD
Damon Nelson 76 yd

AIEA — When the pressure was on, the Aiea defense turned into the Pentagon.

Na Alii rallied from a 19-7 halftime deficit by forcing five second-half turnovers while pitching a shutout after the break to get their first win of the season, 34-19, over the visiting Rams Friday night to begin OIA Division-I play.

Aiea allowed 181 yards in the first two quarters of play, but gave up just 86 yards in the second half. Na Alii also did a better job against Radford sophomore quarterback JT Tafisi — who was 11-for-16 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but completed just seven of 26 passes with three interceptions after the break.

The adjustment for the Aiea defense? Switching from a zone coverage to a man-to-man defense.

"We made sure it was mano a mano," said Aiea coach Wendell Say, whose team totaled nine pass breakups. "We were playing zone in the first, and our kids was giving them too much room to catch the ball. We just pushed them up to take away those plays."

Playing tighter in coverage eventually paid dividends for Na Alii. A 44-yard pick-six by Mana Young-Tavai tied the game at 19 and Tyla Reese Mane's extra point gave Aiea its first lead of the game, 20-19, with 11:50 remaining in regulation.

Dylan Soberano was also stellar in the secondary with two interceptions, one in the Aiea end zone and another that was taken back to the Radford 1-yard line with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter to set up Na Alii's final TD of the night.

"We always come back in the second half. We start slow, but we end fast, we end hard and keep playing until the whistle," said Soberano, who opened the second half with a 53-yard kickoff return to set up Javon Miller's 2-yard TD run to make it a 19-13 game 79 seconds into the third quarter.

Aiea's Dylan Soberano returns an interception in the fourth quarter to the Radford 1-yard line. R-Sam Joseph | Special to SL    Purchase image

Miller, who had just two carries for six yards in the first half, also turned it up after halftime and finished with 16 carries for 130 yards and two TDs, which included a 61-yard burst with 2:10 left in regulation.

Aiea quarterback Kayson Castillo completed just six of his 24 passes, but threw for 198 yards and accounted for two scores without an interception. Josh Canosa was the top receiver for Aiea with four receptions for 165 yards and a TD, a 95-yard bomb to give Na Alii (1-1 overall, 1-0 OIA D1) their first score with 1:01 remaining in the first half.

Radford (0-1), who was making its season opener, looked solid in the first half. If you take away Canosa's 95-yard score, the Rams allowed just 51 yards of offense before the break. They were also 4-for-5 on fourth down before halftime, which included a 35-yard TD pass to Braden Kent on a broken coverage play.

The Rams converted their first fourth-down try in the second half on a fake punt, but turned it over on downs at the Aiea 11 after an intended pass to Damon Nelson was broken up by Maalo Auvaa.

The next four Radford drives all ended in a turnover: an interception in the end zone by Soberano, a fumble recovery by Soberano, a fumble recovered by Aiea's Chayson Lopez and Young-Tavai's pick-six.

"I think our guys are still trying to learn how to play a full game," said Radford coach Fred Salanoa, who returns to the helm after winning a Division II state title in 2015. "I think when that score was in favor of us at halftime, I think maybe our mindset of our guys was they let up a little bit.

"I think on that fake punt when we didn't score on that drive, that was kind of the killer right there. We just got to go back and get these kids to continue to believe and play a full game instead of one half."

Nelson led the Rams with eight receptions for 76 yards and also scored on a 95-yard kickoff return before the end of the first half.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].




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