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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Brandon Ching | ScoringLiveAugust 10, 2019, 11:36pm
Sat, Aug 10, 2019 @ Moanalua [ 6:30 pm ]
SALT LAKE — Griffin Motas was calm, cool and collected.
The senior placekicker drilled a 27-yard field goal as time expired to lift Moanalua past No. 8 Iolani, 21-20, to open up Division I interleague play at Na Menehune's field Saturday.
Na Menehune won their season opener to improve to 1-0 overall and break through to beat Iolani for the first time.
"This one is special to me. Iolani has been a thorn at my side and for the boys to come out on top in this regard and with me having the opportunity to be at the helm. I'm glad it came down to Griffin's foot," Moanalua coach Savaii Eselu said.
The Raiders, after handling Kamehameha-Hawaii, 47-10, the previous week, dropped to 1-1 overall, 0-1 league.
"They had to make plays when they had to. We didn't and they deserved to win. We didn't deserve to win. We didn't play smart. We came up with turnovers there, but they were resilient from those and be able to make plays. That's how the won the game," Iolani coach Wendell Look said.
After transferring from Mililani, RJ Javar in his first start with Moanalua, threw for 318 yards on 33-of-41 passing, one interception and two touchdowns. He was 14 of 16 at intermission with 156 passing yards and added 82 rushing yards on 21 attempts for the game.
"We stuck together and this is my new family now. I felt pretty good and the second and third quarter, I was shaky, wasn't making the right reads, but we stood in there," Javar said.
"He did okay. Jittery was a good word. He shared that too," Eselu said.
Rudy Kealohi was a favorite target of Javar, catching a game-high 14 passes for 147 yards.
Late in the fourth quarter, Moanalua's defense forced Iolani to go three and out and Na Menehune took over on their own 31. Javar extended the drive on a third-and-5 with a 15-yard pass to Jansen York and had a 22 and 13 yard run to get to the 14. With 4.3 seconds remaining, Iolani called consecutive timeouts to try and ice Motas. Despite getting roughed up, the kick sailed through the uprights and Motas was mobbed by blue jerseys.
"I got cleaned out. When I kicked it, I didn't even see the field goal. I just saw all the boys jumping up and down on the ground," Motas said.
"The usual narrative is to go deep. We carved it out down low and luckily we got stuff to pop open after the catch. I had a feeling, I told my coordinator to get Griffin warm, it's going to come down to his foot and it did and glad it did. He deserved it," Eselu said of the game-winning kick.
Playing three years on varsity, this was the first time he was put in a situation to kick a game-winning field goal and he did not disappoint.
"When I set up, this is nothing," Motas said. "At practice when we have to run. Coach makes me kick to lessen the running. If I make, we lessen the running. I practice 40 or 50 yards. This was nothing. The line blocked amazing, the snap was perfect and hold was great."
At the top of the game, Moanalua recycled Christian Sison's interception into points as Na Menehune started at the Iolani 27, and despite being pushed back with intentional grounding and holding penalties, they managed to get into the end zone with Javar finding Lawsen Lee for a 23-yard score and Motas' PAT made it 7-0.
Iolani responded with a drive that started at 1:41 at their own 35 and 12 plays later, Brock Hedani (13 carries, 97 yards) punched in a 1-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
Moanalua took the next possession and marched all the way down to the Iolani 1, but two consecutive tackle for losses and a penalty resulted in Motas' 21-yard field goal as Na Menehune went back up 10-7.
Na Menehune opened up the second half with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Javar to Dacyres Domingo, but a bad snap to the holder led to a failed run to make it 16-7.
Meki Pei returned the ensuing kick off 36 yards and on the next play, Hedani broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown as Iolani trailed 16-14.
Iolani reclaimed the lead after starting on the Moanalua 38 and needed two plays to get into the end zone as Brody Logan Bantolina added a 23-yard touchdown. The pass failed as the Raiders led 20-16.
Moanalua added a safety and trailed 20-18 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter after Jonah Chong threw the ball out of the back of the end zone to avoid a defensive touchdown.
"It was back and forth. It was more of a cerebral game if anything. Basically a chess match. It worked out in our favor and luckily we had the last shot and it went through," Eselu said.
Na Menehune forced Iolani to punt for the first time and drove all the way down to the Raiders' 17, but Shayden Molina pounced on a bad exchange with 3:53 in the fourth quarter. Iolani played it conservative, milking time off the clock, but Moanalua's defense bent, but didn't break to give its offense one final opportunity.
"Facing adversity with your back against the wall in every facet, that's speaks volume with the overall grit of our boys. I'm glad we had the opportunity to practice these kinds of things. It was one of those things to dig deep," Eselu said.
Last year's game was cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Lane. Both teams last met in the opening round of the 2016 HHSAA Division I state tournament.
Moanalua hopes to continue the momentum to Kailua (0-2) on Aug. 16. Iolani will look to regroup as it faces Aiea (1-1) on the same night.
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