HHSAA Football
Kahuku outlasts Leilehua, 13-10, in double overtime


   



Fri, Nov 18, 2011 @ Aloha Stadium [ 7:00 pm ]


Final/OT 1 2 3 4 OT
KAH (12-1) 0 0 0 7 6 13
LEI (10-2) 0 0 0 7 3 10
Pass: K. Sadanaga (LEI) 85 yd 1 TD  Rush: A. Wily (KAH) 129 yd 1 TD  Rec: M. Peyton (LEI) 43 yd 1 TD

Overtime was only fitting for the Kahuku-Leilehua matchup. But it took two to really show how even these teams were.

On a still wounded knee, running back Aofaga Wily's leap of faith into the end zone from three-yards out in double overtime lifted Kahuku over Leilehua, 13-10, Friday night in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I football tournament.

The Red Raiders (11-1) will play Punahou (11-2) for the state championship 7 p.m. Friday at Aloha Stadium. It is a rematch of the 2005 title game that Kahuku won, 28-21. Kahuku, ranked first in the ScoringLive/OC16 Power Rankings, is seeking an unprecedented sixth title, but first since 2006. The No. 3 Buffanblu will be looking for its second title and first since 2008.

'It was so close, it could've gone either way," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "Had it gone the other way, my heart would've been broken for these kids because they've been through so much. It's been a tumultuous year."

A year ago, the Red Raiders could only watch the state tournament, as they forfeited the Oahu Interscholastic Association title game for using an ineligible player. Then the season got off in controversy when Torres was suspended for the first three games of the season because of an administrative issue.

An Aloha Stadium crowd of 8,659 watched the teams play to a 7-7 tie in regulation, then go scoreless after the first overtime. In high school OT, each team has a chance to score by starting at the opponent's 20.

Kahuku went up first, but had its series end with an interception by Russell Siavii, his second of the game.

Leilehua wasted little time in its decision, electing to go for a 37-yard field goal on first down. But the Mules had 12 players on the field and were backed up five yards. But Tim Momiyama missed from 42 yards out, forcing a second overtime.

"Things happen with penalties," Leilehua interim coach Mark Kurisu said. "We actually make that kick. If we don't get the five yards, we actually make the kick."

It might have been just respect for Kahuku's defense, which limited the Mules to 68 yards total offense. It held QB Kenan Sadanaga, the state's most prolific passer to just 85 yards passing, or half of his previous season low of 170 yards in limited time against Damien. Though he did not throw an interception for the first time in seven games, he was pressured all night. He was sacked four times, three by Devailo Motoga

"Our coaches prepared us well," Kahuku's ubiquitous safety Kawehena Johnson said after learning the defense kept Sadanaga to under 100 yards passing.

"They've been playing like this all year," Torres said of his defense. "Championships are won with defense."

The Mules started first in the second OT, and after three incomplete passes, Momiyama made a 37-yard field goal to put the Mules ahead, 10-7.

On the Red Raiders' ensuing series, they faced a third-and-7 from the Leilehua 17. Quarterback Lasi Livai hit Johnson on a slant over the middle for an 11-yard gain for the first down.

"The coaches told me to read the safety," Livai said. "If it's not there, throw it away because we have a chance at a field goal. Kawe was wide open, made a good catch."

"The quarterback just gave me a good ball to catch," Johnson said.

After a three-yard run by RB Mahonilia Fakatou, Wily followed up with the game-winning TD run.

"I just felt I needed to push and give it all I got," Wily said of the TD. "(The offensive line) was to go on all fours (four-point stance) and chop the defensive line. I just thought about hopping over."

Despite torn ligaments in his knee, Wily still rushed for 129 yards on 32 rushed. Fakatou lightened Wily's load by contributing 110 yards on 23 carries. Kahuku tried to grind it out, keeping the Mules' fast-paced, high-octane offense on the sidelines, holding the ball 44:07 to Leilehua's 27:03.

It was the third overtime game tournament history in Division I, all in the semifinals. It was the third that involved Kahuku and the second time involving both teams. Leilehua beat Kahuku 17-10, in the 2008 semifinals. It was the second-longest OT in the tournament. In 2002, pre-Division II, Castle beat McKinley, 27-21, in triple overtime.

Defense dominated all night. It was scoreless for three quarters. Kahuku finally broke the silence with Fakatou's one-yard TD run to start the fourth quarter, capping a 13-play, 63-yard drive that lasted six minutes, nine seconds. Kekahu Aluli's PAT gave Kahuku a 7-0 lead.

But thanks to its defense, Leilehua tied the game on a nine-yard TD pass from Sadanaga to Mikal Peyton with 5:37 left. Earlier, the Mules defense forced the Red Raiders to punt from their 18. Jeremiah Andrade's 11-yard return to the Kahuku 38 gave Leilehua a short field to strike back.

It was the third consecutive year that Leilehua's season ended in the state semifinals. The Mules (10-2-1) suffered their only losses to Kahuku; the other was in the OIA Red championship.

"Give all the credit to Kahuku first," Kurisu said. "Give all the love to our players. The whole season, people told them they couldn't play with the big boys, but they did.

"That's what our program is all about. It's not about wins and losses. It hurts when you lose, but in the end you always look at what you did during the journey. Did you cut corners? Did you look away when you shouldn't have. We did everything the best we could. We did it the right way. We tried to execute as best as we could, but in the end we fell a bit short. The lesson is, you can be short in the game of football. You don't want to be short in the game of life."


Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].


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