HHSAA Football
Hilo stuns 'Iolani to win Division I state title


  



Fri, Nov 29, 2019 @ Aloha Stadium [ 4:00 pm ]


Final 1 2 3 4 T
IOL (10-3-0) 10 7 0 017
HILO (14-0-0) 0 3 7 1020
Pass: Kyan Miyasato (HILO) 289 yd 1 TD
Rush: Lyle Silva (HILO) 112 yd
Rec: Guyson Ogata (HILO) 146 yd 1 TD

In a dramatic championship game of inches -- or perhaps, only one inch -- Hilo won its second First Hawaiian Bank/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Division I title in three years Friday night by stunning 'Iolani, 20-17, as Keanu Keolanui's record-tying 55-yard field goal hit the crossbar and tumbled over as time expired.
 
The fantastic finish at Aloha Stadium capped an impressive 14-0 campaign for the Vikings, who won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation's first state crown just two years ago. 'Iolani ended its season in heartbreak at 10-3.
 
"It feels good, it took a lot of hard, hard work and practice," said Vikings senior defensive lineman Joshua Niro, who came up with a huge third-down sack late in the fourth quarter. "It feels good to bring this back to Hilo, since we lost last year (to Waipahu, 42-22)."
 
Things did not look promising for the Vikings midway through Friday's game, after Meki Pei returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the half to help give the Raiders a 17-3 lead heading into the locker rooms. But Hilo closed it to 17-10 late in the third quarter after Kilohana Haasenritter's 6-yard TD run, then tied it at 17-17 with 7:56 remaining after Kyan Miyasato connected with Guyson Ogata on a 78-yard pass-and-run scoring play down the left sideline followed by Kealoanui's extra point.
 
On 'Iolani's next possession, the Raiders drove to the Vikings' 23-yard line, but Niro sacked quarterback Jonah Chong for a five-yard loss on third-and-5, and Wailoa Manuel's 45-yard field goal attempt missed wide left.
 
Hilo then appeared to be knocking on the door for the go-ahead score after marching 66 yards on 12 plays to the Raiders' 14, but Pei stripped the ball from Miyasato and linebacker Joshua Miyazawa recovered on the 10 yard line, giving 'Iolani possession with 57 seconds left.
 
However, Chong's pass fell incomplete on third-and-3 and after Manuel's punt, the Vikings got the ball back at midfield and completed a quick pass to the 38, setting up Keolanui's 55-yard attempt with two seconds showing on the clock. Kapa'a's Chosen Lagunes-Rapozo had set the state tournament record from the same distance in last year's Division II championship game.
 
"I honestly didn't know (how far it was), I just came in and focused and did what I had to do," said Keolanui, who sailed a 47-yarder through the uprights midway through the second quarter and has made field goals from 56 yards in practice. "I didn't know if it was going to bounce back (after hitting the crossbar) or bounce in, but when it bounced in ... it was such a good feeling."
 
Raiders coach Wendell Look said he was wary of Keolanui's range even before the game started, and even more so in the closing moments.
 
"We knew they were going to go for a field goal, (because) he's a good kicker," Look said. "He kicked a long one (from 44 yards out) against Leilehua last week in the pouring rain, so we knew he could kick. I wasn't surprised."
 
Neither was Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo.
 
"For all the marbles, there was more pressure, but hey, he was ready for it," Drummond said.
 
In the first half, it was 'Iolani that looked ready to claim its first state title since 2014. The Raiders took 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Manuel's 45-yard field goal, then went up 10-0 after Chong's 2-yard touchdown plunge with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter. 
 
The Vikings closed it to 10-3 on Kealoanui's 47-yard field goal with 5:30 remaining in the half, but 'Iolani built the lead to 17-3 after Pei's 94-yard punt return back to the house as time expired.
 
But the tone changed dramatically in the second half, as Hilo limited the Raiders to just 45 yards of offense, including only two yardsticks on the ground. Chong was constantly hounded by the Vikings' pass rush and was able to complete only 5 of 15 attempts in the final two quarters.
 
"They shut everything down, and we couldn't hit the (receivers) who were open," Look said. "And then, we turned over the ball -- that was a key, right there."   
 
Hilo converted a lost Raiders fumble into Haasenritter's TD run with 1:40 left in the third quarter, closing the score to 17-10 heading into the fourth.
 
"('Iolani's offense) is very dangerous -- they spread you out, make you cover all 54 yards wide, and there's so much pressure and stress that they put on you," Drummondo said. "But hat's off to (our) guys, they executed ... We had the game plan, and I asked them if they're confident in the game plan, and they said, 'Yes, we're confident, we're ready to go.' " 
 
Niro said one key was not giving Chong and his receivers time to let plays develop.
 
"The game plan was to put a lot of pressure on them and try to get the quarterback out of the pocket, or to keep him in and get a sack," Niro said. "We tried to be quick, because they're pretty small but they're quick and agile and they're a good offensive line." 
 
Most of all, Drummondo gave his team credit for not giving up despite the 14-point halftime deficit.
 
"At that point, you can either quit, or you can come out fighting, and we came out fighting," Drummondo said. "This senior class, the work that they put in the last four years that no one sees ... it's going to be an emotional night, I'm going to miss them. But it couldn't have ended any better, I couldn't have dreamed it."


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