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Prep Football Preview Special
Brandon Ching | ScoringLiveSeptember 16, 2023, 11:46pm
Sat, Sep 16, 2023 @ War Memorial [ 7:00 pm ]
WAILUKU, Maui— Ofa Falekaono rushed for a touchdown and added another off an interception as Maui pulled away from rival Baldwin, 27-17, at War Memorial Stadium Saturday.
After getting shut out, 28-0 to King Kekaulike and 45-0 to KS-Maui respectively, the Sabers put points on the board and improved to 1-2 in the MIL Division I standings.
"It's a wonderful feeling, for the past two weeks, we had to get better and move on to the next team. Even though they're D2, they bring the competition to us and we're getting better by the day," Falekaono said. "We had to figure out our mistakes, we were watching film to see what was going on, going over it in practice, trying to get better and the outcome came during the game."
The Bears (0-3) lost their 17th-straight game dating back to Oct. 23, 2021.
Maui trailed 17-14 following Dylan Wellerstein's 37-yard field goal with 6:12 in the third quarter.
Falekaono intercepted the pass off Jonaven Rodrigues' deflection and returned it 45 yards to the house to jumpstart the Sabers 12 seconds into the fourth quarter. The kick was blocked, but Maui led, 20-17 and never looked back.
"All I heard was the ball going up and I looked at it and I just had the chance to take the ball into the end zone," Falekaono said of the momentum-shifting turnover.
The Saber defense stepped up and forced a short punt and took over on the Baldwin 18. Piercen Cajical-Evans rushed to the 7 and two plays later, Aizley Lakalaka (11 carries, 46 yards) ran in for a 5-yard touchdown for a 10-point cushion.
Baldwin quarterback Kalaheo Kanae Oliveira threw for 112 yards on 5-of-8 passing, one interception and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a leg injury.
In the fourth quarter following Falekaono's interception, the defense registered four sacks and another interception. Jeven Woodson intercepted Josiah Nakihei, who came in for relief at quarterback, in the end zone.
"After that pick-six, everybody had the mentality of moving the ball forward and getting the game plan going," Falekaono said.
Falekaono rushed for 23 yards on seven carries and punched in a 3-yard run to put Maui up, 7-0 in the first quarter.
"We were telling our players, and thank you to the o-linemen, we were telling them to push and work throughout the line," Falekaono said.
The Bears tied the game at 7 after Antone Sanches hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Oliveira.
Cajical-Evans gained 19 yards and two plays later added a 1-yard plunge for a 14-7 lead. He led the Sabers with 17 carries for 84 yards.
Oliveira connected with Sanches, who had 70 receiving yards, for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 going into half-time.
Brock Toma led all rushers with 22 carries for 105 yards.
Maui goes to King Kekaulike on Saturday, Sept. 23. Baldwin will host KS-Maui the night prior. The Sabers and Bears will play each other again on Friday, Oct. 13.
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