Leilehua rallies to force stalemate with Kailua


Fri, Aug 5, 2022 @ Kailua [ 7:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Leilehua (0-6-1) 0 8 6 1327
Kailua (3-2-1) 14 13 0 027
Maa Fonoti 210 yd 2 TD
Krystian Arindain 265 yd 3 TD
Maa Fonoti 56 yd 1 TD
Cole Northington 52 yd 1 TD

KAILUA — This game was a tale of two halves.

Too bad there wasn't overtime to decide the winner.

Visiting Leilehua scored 19 unanswered points in the second half to rally to a 27-27 tie against Kailua Friday night in a non-league game at Alex Kane Stadium.

The contest did not go into an extra period because the result of the game had no bearing on either teams' regular season record as the Mules are an Open Division team while the Surfriders is in Division I this year.

Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu was proud of his team's ability to battle back in what was a chippy game that saw numerous penalties called and had an ejection on both sides. He also noted that they lost a number of defensive linemen to injury or transfer just days before the season started.

"We were struggling for a bit, just to find our momentum," he said. "We don't look the part in terms of size and all, but we play with heart."

Leilehua QB Krystian “Pono” Arindain delivers a pass to a receiver in the second half. Michael Lasquero | SL    Purchase image

Senior quarterback Krystian "Pono" Arindain was at the forefront of the comeback as he shook off a shaky first half where he completed just 10 passes for 61 yards and threw two interceptions in the opening quarter. He finished the night completing 21 of 40 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

Kurisu said that Arindain doesn't have a lot of experience, having split time at the position as a junior and not playing in his freshman and sophomore year due to the pandemic.

"He's just behind, but he shows glimpses of being great. We want to continue to just challenge him and be encouraging."

Arindain was also able to drive the Mules down to the Kailua 14-yard line late in the fourth quarter before Kailua's Riis Weber garnered his second INT of the night on the final play of regulation to preserve the tie for both teams.

Kailua struck first in the first quarter after a failed fake punt by the Mules resulted in great field position. Clayton "Ikaika" Quidashay notched the first TD of the night on a 30-yard rumble with 3:47 to play in the opening quarter.

The Surfriders doubled up their score minutes later thanks to Weber's first pick of the game. Maa Fonoti's 8-yard TD pass to Quidashay and Kai Fraser's PAT made it a 14-0 game with 2:26 showing on the first quarter scoreboard.

Kailua RB Clayton “Ikaika” Quidashay has his eyes set on the end zone in a 30-yard TD run to open up the game's scoring. Michael Lasquero | SL    Purchase image

Leilehua got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter thanks to a Kailua miscue, a high snap that went out of the back of the end zone during a punting situation. The Mules then scored their first TD of the game with 7:11 to play in the second quarter on Cole Northington's 4-yard run up the gut. The PAT was unsuccessful to leave the score at 14-8 in favor of Kailua.

Weber showcased more of his talents for Kailua, catching a jump ball over a defender for a 17-yard TD to extend the lead to 21-8 midway through the second quarter.

The last score of the night for the Surfriders came on the final play of the first half when Fonoti scrambled for a 25-yard TD. The entire scoring drive was a result of Fonoti using his legs to get out of bounds as he picked up gains of nine and 12 yards before his scoring run. A mishandled snap on the PAT left the score at 27-8 at the break.

Leilehua got momentum to start the second half after Kailua muffed a squib kick that was recovered by Tristan Icuspit. This led to Arindain's 14-yard TD pass over the middle to Darien "Kama" Hoeppner-Corales with 8:57 to play in the third quarter. It was a redeeming moment for Hoeppner-Corales, who dropped a pass in the end zone on a streak in the second stanza.

Timothy Arnold also started to emerge at receiver for the Mules. The 5-foot-11 junior finished the game with 10 receptions for 136 yards, with 77 of those yards coming on a catch-and-run that got Leilehua within one score with 9:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. Zackary Sutcharitkul, who didn't attempt the first PAT, was able to get one through the uprights to trim Kailua's lead to 27-21.

The Mules' defensive adjustments and effort in the second half also played a part in the comeback. Leilehua allowed 88 yards rushing in the first two quarters of play, but gave up just 16 yards on the ground after the break to help lengthen the game as Kailua could not successfully milk the clock.

Leilehua's defense also forced a turnover-on-downs in the red zone to set up the Mules' game-tying score with under four minutes to play in the game.

"(Kailua is) a big team on the line, we don't fit that mold. We were just trying to use our strength, which is our speed and effort," said Kurisu.

"Little by little we started to break through the cracks. We saw the cracks in the dam and we started to flow through. That brings us momentum and excitement. That energy came through and they played at a different level."

Kurisu also made sure to credit the offensive line in their second half rally. The game-tying score, which came on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Hoeppner-Corales, came after Arindain did a pump fake while standing in clean pocket.

"We got everybody going both ways, we're very grateful for what they do," Kurisu said of the line.

The potential game-winning PAT was blocked however which left the scoreboard in a 27-27 stalemate.

Leilehua will travel to Waipahu next Friday in another non-league matchup while Kailua visits Campbell on the same night.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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