Swarming, hounding, vicious defenses set the tone in the first game of the historic OIA-ILH Open Division alliance, but it was No. 6 Kamehameha breathing just a bit easier on offense and rallying to break a late fourth-quarter tie en route to a 21-7 victory over No. 8 Kapolei at Aloha Stadium.
Knotted at 7, the Warriors (1-0, 1-0 Open) went ahead for good with 5:55 left in the game. Christmas Togiai’s 46-yard pass to Edward Correa set the stage for Hoku Arias’ 2-yard up-the-middle touchdown run.
After getting the ball back, the Hurricanes (1-1, 0-1 Open) fell victim to an interception by Kamehameha’s Kalau Morikawa. Skyler Ramos then took a reverse 27 yards to set up Laakea Ane’s 1-yard TD burst for the 14-point lead with 5:23 to go that all but sewed up the victory.
Arias’ biggest contribution, however, came on defense from his linebacker position. In the first half, he sacked Kapolei backup quarterback Noa Bailey (in for Christian Rapis, who injured his hip in the opening quarter) three times.
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“For me, the biggest part is everyone coming together and believing in each other,” Arias said. “The offense was struggling a little bit. We got behind them. They got our backs, we got their backs and that’s how we pulled through. We knew the offense was going to get it going. It was just a matter of time.”
As for the touchdown, Arias said, “I could get used to that.”
The Warriors’ defensive unit as a whole came up with 11 tackles for loss — including seven sacks — before the halftime break. Kapolei adjusted in the second half, allowing just one more sack the rest of the way.
The defensive stalemate cooled a bit midway through the second quarter, when Kamehameha’s Alec Serrao broke loose for a gain of 21. Moe Tanuvasa, the second QB in the game for the Warriors (after Kiai Keone and before Togiai) then hooked up with Ramos for a 17-yard TD for a 7-0 lead with 5:31 remaining before halftime.
With 8:13 left in the third quarter, Bailey brought the Hurricanes back for a 7-all tie, finding Ikari Stokes down a seam on the left side for a 52-yard TD.
Prior to Kamehameha’s go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter, Kalani Kamakawiwoole stripped the ball from Bailey and caused a 5-yard loss. It didn’t lead to a turnover, but it did force Kapolei to punt and the pendulum edged the Warriors’ way.
“The difference was we made mistakes (in crunch time),” Hurricanes coach Darren Hernandez said. “The momentum shifted at some pretty big times. We’re actually a pretty young team. We’re still learning. You win and you lose, and I tell the players you win, you lose and you learn. We’ll make the adjustments and the corrections.”
Warriors coach Abu Maafala chose to not speak with reporters after the game.
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