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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
ScoringLive staffNovember 15, 2019, 9:19pm
Fri, Nov 15, 2019 @ War Memorial [ 5:30 pm ]
WAILUKU, Maui — Leilehua junior Kalei Akagi brought the lightning to the Valley Isle Friday night.
Sophomore running back Jamil Vereen brought the thunder.
Akagi scored two first-half touchdowns from 72 and 91 yards and Vereen ran for a season-high 174 yards to power No. 9 Leilehua over fourth-seeded Baldwin, 34-7, in the opening round of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I Football Championships at War Memorial Stadium.
The Mules (10-2) advance to take on top-seeded Hilo next Saturday at Wong Stadium in the state semifinals. The Vikings (12-0), ranked fifth in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Football Power Rankings, reached the D1 state title game the previous two seasons and earned its first-ever state championship in 2017.
"Our goal before this game was to be 1-0 and we accomplished it so that's going to be the same mentality for the next team," said Akagi. "I'm just super blessed to have one more week to continue with my brothers. We're just going to do it as a team."
Akagi got Leilehua on the board early in the contest, scoring on a 72-yard TD run on the Mules' first play from scrimmage.
The Bears, who were playing in their first state tournament game since 2016, answered when Akuila Koloamatangi forced a fumble that was recovered by Jonathan Bacos at Baldwin's 37 yard line.
On the very next play, Baldwin quarterback Laakea Asuega-Stark hit Kapena Kamai for a 63-yard score that tied the game at 7 with 10:58 to play in the first half.
However, Akagi returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to pay dirt to give the Mules the lead for good.
"The ball was kicked towards the middle. It was kind of a squib kick so I let it roll a little bit so I could get it under control. I just grabbed it, the other 10 people that was blocking for me created a gap in the middle and I just used my speed to hit it," Akagi said of the kickoff return.
The defense followed suit with 11 tackles for loss and added an 85-yard interception return by free safety Julyan Mebane that put the Mules ahead by 20 points midway in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense played lights out," Akagi said. "We're super proud of them no matter how the outcome is. We're always proud of them because they give 110 percent in practice and they let it all out on the field."
Vereen, who carried the ball 28 times, scored on a 7-yard run with 1:31 left in regulation to put the game away for visiting Leilehua.
"Jamil is just an animal, props off to him," Akagi said of Vereen. "He's just a downhill runner. It's hard to stop him. O-line does their part, receiver does their part and he just does his thing."
Kekoa Turangan threw a 10-yard TD pass to Jayzon Ramos on Leilehua's first possession of the second half to account for the Mules' other score.
Koloamatangi led the Bears (5-5) in their season-ending loss with 15 total tackles, 10 of which were solo.
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