HHSAA Football
No. 10 Waipahu overcomes slow start to rally past Kapaa


Fri, Nov 11, 2022 @ Waipahu [ 7:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Kapaa (5-4-0) 14 21 0 641
Waipahu (11-2-0) 13 6 8 2249
Liatama Uiliata 106 yd 2 TD
Kapono Na-O 80 yd 1 TD
Anieli Teleaai 140 yd 3 TD
Kapono Na-O 126 yd 2 TD

After a bit of a stumble out of the gate, No. 10 Waipahu found its footing in the second half of its 49-41 win over Kapaa Friday night. 

The Marauders (10-1) erased a 22-point, second-quarter deficit by scoring 36 consecutive points to turn back the Warriors (5-4) in a first round game of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I Football State Championships at the Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex. 

Waipahu advances to take on defending champion Iolani in next Saturday's semifinal round. 

It didn't look promising for the Marauders early on, however. 

Kapaa jumped out to an early lead on Mahana Alameda's 39-yard interception return for a touchdown on Waipahu's opening offensive possession. Its second drive resulted in another Warriors takeaway with Steeler Burley's pick off of Marauders' starting quarterback Elijah Mendoza. 

The Warriors recycled the turnover into a 15-yard touchdown run by Kapono Na-o two plays later to take a 14-0 lead about six minutes into the contest. 

Kapaa took its largest lead at 35-13 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Na-o to Kamalei Gonsalves with 1:43 left in the second quarter. However, Waipahu answered with Liatama Uiliata's 44-yard scoring strike to Jayvren Pinera just 35.9 seconds before halftime. That PAT was no good, but Uiliata's TD pass spurred five straight scores by the home team to surge ahead. 

Waipahu pulled to within 35-33 one play into the fourth quarter on Uiliata's 27-yard TD run and evened the score on Anieli Talaeai's ensuing two-point conversion run. A few minutes later, Seth Setu blocked a Kapaa punt and Romeo Tagata scooped up the loose ball before he returned it eight yards for another Marauders' touchdown. The extra point was no good, but Waipahu led for good at 41-35 with 8:23 to play. 

The Marauders added an insurance score with Uiliata's 31-yard TD pass to Chazen Rodillas-Vesido that stretched their lead to 49-35 with 8:04 to play. The touchdown was set-up by a Tyrus Niuatoa interception of Na-o just one play prior. 

Uiliata completed four of his eight pass attempts for 106 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Mendoza, who was just 2-of-8 passing for 31 yards and two interceptions. Uiliata also ran for 96 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. 

Talaeai carried 18 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including his 77-yard scamper to the end zone that cut the Kapaa lead to 14-13 late in the first quarter. Talaeai also ran in three two-point conversions in the win. 

Waipahu posted 192 rushing yards and 329 yards of total offense despite having converted just 2 of 9 third downs. 

Kapaa finished with 271 total yards, including 191 rushing. Na-o carried 26 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 4 of his 13 pass attempts for 80 yards with three interceptions and one score. 

UCLA-bound linebacker Solomone Malafu led the Warriors defensively with 7 1/2 tackles, including three for losses. 

Tagata tallied 8 1/2 tackles, including 1 1/2 in the backfield, to lead the Marauders on defense. Niuatoa recorded two for his team's three interceptions in the win. 

The Warriors led at halftime, 35-19. 

Kapaa was seeking to become the first team to win back-to-back state titles after it moved up from Division II this season. Last fall, the Warriors became the first team from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation to win a state football championship.

Kickoff between the fourth-seeded Marauders and the top-seeded Raiders is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Iolani's Kozuki Stadium. 

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