OIA Football
Surfriders rally around reserve running back to tackle Govs


  



Fri, Sep 30, 2022 @ Kailua [ 7:30 pm ]


Final 1 2 3 4 T
Farrington (5-6-0) 0 13 0 013
Kailua (4-4-1) 7 0 2 1524

KAILUA — The Kailua football team was the beneficiary of a unique bond between running backs Koyo Kekauoha and Caysen Samson Friday night.

When the former went down with a shoulder injury in the first half of the Surfriders' 24-13 win over Farrington on a calm evening at Alex Kane Stadium, the latter stepped right in and picked up where his cousin left off. 

Samson ran for 66 yards on 12 carries, including a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that helped Kailua (3-2-1 overall, 3-1 league) rally from a 13-7 halftime deficit against Farrington (4-4, 2-2). The sophomore had yet to record any statistics prior to Friday's contest. 

"I was kind of nervous at first, but I knew my (offensive) line got me," said Samson, who, as a freshman a year ago, started on defense at linebacker. 

Kekauoha, the Surfriders' leading rusher with 362 yards (6.1 per carry) and nine touchdowns entering the game, was forced to exit with two minutes and 19 seconds left in the first quarter after he was taken down for a six-yard loss on his seventh carry of the night. After he was tended to by athletic trainers, Kekauoha walked off the field on his own power, but noticeably favoring his left shoulder. He did not return to the game. 

"I was motivated because he's my cousin and I just wanted to carry his back (after) seeing him crying," Samson expressed.

Kailua took the lead about five minutes into the game after Kekauoha's 11-yard TD run. 

However, Farrington got on the board about halftime through the second quarter with a 3-yard TD run off right tackle by Ikaika Kuaana-Lacno. Jason Felipe added the extra point to even the score at 7. 

The Surfriders then stalled on their ensuing possession and were forced to punt away. The Govs took over at their own 17-yard line and hit a 83-yard TD pass on the first play of the drive. Quarterback Mark Moreno lateraled to Zechariah Molitau, who then unleashed a deep pass to the right sideline, where he had two receivers but it fell into the hands of Kamakana Tisalona-Perez, who raced away from the Kailua secondary for the final 25 yards of the scoring play. 

"That trick play that scored, I feel it turned us around," said defensive end Garic Pahinui, who had all three of his sacks in the first half to lead the Seariders defensively. 

"Those trick plays definitely threw us off; that's what woke us up though," he added. 

The extra point was blocked by Riis Weber to keep it a 13-7 lead for the Govs with 3:35 until halftime. 

 "The first half was rough because everybody wasn't communicating and then when Koyo went down that was definitely a rough time for everybody," Pahinui said. 

He went on, "That's when we ended up going into halftime and everybody was feeling down and I don't know, something in my head was just telling me I gotta say something to change the game around and I told them that, ‘We were making (the Govs) look good, but let's make us look good.' "

Kailua cut it to a 13-9 Farrington lead after a safety late in the third quarter. The snap sailed over the head of punter Caleb Matavale and out the back of the end zone for two points for the home team. 

The Surfriders then marched 67 yards on their ensuing drive, capped by Samson's 21-yard touchdown run up the middle with 9:54 left in the game. That score, along with Fonoti's successful two-point conversion run, put their team ahead, 17-13, with 9:54 to play. 

Samson had just one carry for two yards before halftime, but he was dealing with some other issues while on the sideline. 

"I felt prepared, I was just throwing up a lot. Too much Gatorade; I shouldn't have done that," Samson disclosed. 

While Samson was able to overcome his situation,the Govs were recurrently bitten by their long-snapping woes. Another bad snap over Matavale's head gave Kailua solid field position. Six plays later, Samson busted a couple of tackles on his 8-yard TD run on third down around left end. 

"We know what kind of player he is, but he works so hard in the offseason: hitting the weight room, running — he's one of the fastest guys on our team," Kailua coach Hauoli Wong said of Samson. "For him, just being in the system and knowing what to do and what's expected of him, I mean, he's stepped up and did a hell of a job."

Fonoti finished 21-of-31 passing for 220 yards; He was not intercepted. His favorite target was Kainoa Smith-Akana, who hauled in 12 receptions for 150 yards. 

"It was a big team win and losing guys like Koyo early in the game. I mean, you could tell, that (Kekauoha is) basically the wind in our sails and he's the heart and soul of our team, but the guys stepped up and responded," Wong said. "Maa had a good game throwing it up, Nai and all the receivers blocking and catching and then Caysen coming in and the line blocking — everybody just stepped up and did what we asked them to do."

Kailua posted 311 yards of total offense and held Farrington to a mere 158 yards, including only four rushing yards. 

The Govs entered the game averaging nearly 160 rushing yards per game. They recorded just nine first downs and was 1 of 11 on third downs. 

Wong was unable to give an update on Kekauoha's condition. 

"I don't know; I know it's his shoulder. I saw the ice on his shoulder, but I'm just hoping for the best. Like I said, he's the heart and soul of our team and we just hope he'll be able to come back at some point," Wong said. 

The Surfriders had 23 first downs and were 2 of 13 on third downs. 

"This is a helluva of a big win," Samson said. "We've been preparing all week."

Kailua has now won three of its last four games and is tied with Aiea (3-1) for second place in the OIA D1 standings behind first-place Waipahu (5-0). 

The Surfriders will host the 10th-ranked Marauders Friday night. That same evening, the Governors will visit Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium for a showdown against Roosevelt (1-3).



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].




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