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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Stacy Kaneshiro | ScoringLiveOctober 26, 2019, 9:32pm
Sat, Oct 26, 2019 @ Aloha Stadium [ 2:00 pm ]
In an edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting thriller, Kurt Kawamoto kicked a 22-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to lift Kaimuki over Roosevelt, 27-24, for the Bulldogs' third Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II football championship Saturday afternoon at Hawaiian Financial FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.
Kaimuki's first title since 2010 avenged last year's loss to Roosevelt, 28-18, in the title game. The Bulldogs (10-2) are the the only team to beat Roosevelt (9-2) this season. Kaimuki won the regular-season meeting, 28-26.
"It feels amazing," said Kaimuki receiver Koby Moananu, who had two TD receptions. "I can't even put words to describe this game. It was close all game and it came down who wanted it more. We wanted it really bad."
With the game knotted at 24, Kaimuki's Avin Tanioka recovered a muffed punt by Roosevelt's Isaac Kaleikau at the Roosevelt 14 with two minutes, 27 seconds left in regulation.
"I saw him dive for the ball," Tanioka said. "He mishandled it and I grabbed it, started running (to the end zone)."
Since a muffed punt - as opposed to a fumble in which the ball carrier must have control before losing it - cannot be returned, the Bulldogs took over from where the ball was recovered.
The Bulldogs were content on milking the clock running the ball twice with Naomas Asuega-Fualaau two times for eight yards to the Roosevelt 6. An encroachment penalty against the Rough Riders made it first-and-goal at the 3. Asuega-Fualaau rushed the ball twice for minus-2 yards with the Kaimuki calling timeout with 4 seconds left to set up the field goal. Roosevelt, of course, called time, too, to ice the kicker. Kawamoto, who earlier made a 33-yard field goal, drilled his attempt through, sending the Bulldogs into their celebration.
"I was pretty nervous," Kawamoto admitted, "but I was feeling pretty confident myself."
How about when Roosevelt called the timeout?
"I just wanted to kick already," Kawamoto said.
The game was tied three times at 10, 17 and 24. Leads three times with Kaimuki taking a 10-0 advantage before Roosevelt went ahead 17-10. After Kaimuki tied at 17, Roosevelt took a 24-17 lead with 48 seconds left in a wild third period. The Bulldogs tied the game early in the fourth and both teams went scoreless until Kawamoto's game-winning boot.
"To put it into words, we're stunned," Kaimuki coach David Tautofi said. "They still believed they could do this, but not until it happens that you realize that it actually happened."
The muff wasn't the only turnover that hurt the Rough Riders. Early in the game, Matthew Williams interception of Sky Ogata set up Kawamoto's 33-yard field goal.
Mental errors also hurt Roosevelt. After taking 24-17 lead, the Rough Riders were penalized twice on the ensuing kickoff and moved back a total of 10 yards. A 26-yard return from Kaimuki's 27 to Roosevelt's 47 by Kaulana Kaluna set up the game-tying TD on Jayden Maiava's 13-yard TD pass to Kaluna with 10:27 left in the game.
"I guess he just wanted to give us some yards, put us in a good field position," Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said of the muffed punt.
Maiava completed 12 of 31 passes for 181 yards and three TDs, while Naomas Asuega-Fualaau rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries. Moananu led all receivers with 97 yards and two TDs from three catches.
Roosevelt's Ogata, who left the game for two series with a leg cramp, was 13 of 21 for 172 yards and a TD with two interceptions. Kolea Pa-Macalino did the most of those two series completing 3 of 4 passes for 41 yards and two TDs.
After a scoreless first period, it took a gadget play to get the scoring going. A Roosevelt punt put Kaimuki at its 42. On first down, Maiava handed the ball off to Asuenga-Fualaau, who pitched the ball back to Maiava, who threw to Moananu at the Roosevelt 21. He came back for the pass and shook off the defensive back and raced for the end zone to complete the 58-yard scoring play with 9:13 left in the half. Kawamoto's PAT gave Kaimuki a 7-0 lead.
After Kawamoto's first field goal that increased Kaimuki's lead to 10-0 with 3:01 in the half, the Rough Riders responded on Ogata's 24-yard TD pass to Scott Chung to close the gap to 10-7 with 1:05 left and it stayed that way until the break.
Kaimuki took the second-half kickoff, but Keneke Gusman forced and recovered a fumble by Asuega-Fualaau at the Kaimuki 11, setting up Isaac Segawa's 27-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 with 10:15 in the third period.
Roosevelt took its first lead on an eight-play 54-yard drive that ended with Pa-Macalino's 23-yard TD pass to Isaac Kaleikau to make it 17-10.
Williams' 25-yard kickoff return to the Kaimuki 40 set the stage for Maiava's 35-yard TD pass to Moananu with 1:58 in the third to tie the game at 17.
Roosevelt's Shepherd Kekahuna returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the Kaimuki 10. Three plays later, Pa-Macalino hit Kaleikau for a 10-yard TD with 48 seconds left in the third to make it 24-17.
Kaimuki cashed in on the two penalties against Roosevelt on the kickoff to get good field position at the ‘Riders' 47 to stage Maiava's 13-yard TD pass to Kaluna with 10:27 left in the game.
The Bulldogs' Boris Montgomery recovered an onside kick at the Roosevelt 49, but the Bulldogs eventually punted. Both team exchanged possessions with interceptions - Keith Hallers for Kaimuki and Kekahuna for Roosevelt — but neither could cash in the gifts.
Roosevelt's next series was turned over on downs after a sack by Putasi Komiti at the Kaimuki 30. The Bulldogs faced fourth-and-7 from Roosevelt's 44 and decided to punt. That's when the Bulldogs recovered the muff with 2:27 left to set up Kawamoto's game-winning kick.
"I'm proud of our kids," Kahooilihala said. "And Kaimuki played a hell of a game, man. Awesome job on Kaimuki's part."
As for Kaimuki, which has an enrollment of 650, it has played bigger than the numbers it puts on the field, about 33 players, for years.
"It makes (the title) that much better," Moananu said. "We just have it (in us) to fight back."
Both teams will represent the OIA in the Division II state tournament.
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