Kealakehe Clinches Top Seed in Turnover-Filled Contest
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by Josh Pacheco
Hilo and Kealakehe combined for nine turnovers Saturday night at Wong Stadium. The most important stat, however, is how many times each time capitalized on those mistakes.
The Waveriders scored twice off of Hilo turnovers to take the lead in the second half and held on to defeat the Vikings 14-6, clinching the top seed in the upcoming Division I BIIF tournament and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It was a tale of two halves for both teams. In the first, it was the Waveriders who constantly coughed the ball up four times. But, Hilo could only manage to take advantage of one of those fumbles with a touchdown pass from Drew Kell to Aven Kualii on a 21-yard deep slant to give Hilo a 6-0 lead with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter. Keola Miller’s extra point was blocked.
What about the other three turnovers? One drive ended with a missed 33 yard field goal from Keola Miller, another led to a punt after a bad snap cost Hilo 24 yards of field position and knocked them out of the red zone, and the last one ended with an interception of Drew Kell in the end zone by Kainoa Kipapa.
In the second half, the roles seemed to reverse. Hilo gave the ball away three times in the half, and Kealakehe didn’t lose out on their opportunities to capitalize on them. After Kell had the ball knocked out of his hands in the picket and recovered by Winton Palik, Lennox Jones scooted around the outside and ran in a touchdown run from 31 yards out to give Kealakehe a 7-6 lead with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter. Jones made his own extra point.
Kealakehe (7-1, 5-0 BIIF) couldn’t take advantage of a Hilo fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but they would get their next score off of Kainoa Kipapa’s second interception of Drew Kell. That led to a one-yard touchdown run from David Fangupo, with Jones’ extra point giving the Waveriders a 14-6 lead with 2:57 remaining in the game.
With under seven minutes to play, Kealakehe had another chance to score with the ball inside the red zone, but a personal foul penalty after the first down play moved them back. Officials, however, failed to account for the down marker on the field that stayed at one even though they had counted the nine yard play on first down, and it became important a few plays later.
On what was supposed to be fourth down and long, but was instead third down near the 30 yard line, Jordan Cristobal fired an incomplete pass. Kealakehe did get one more play in on what the officials deemed to be fourth down, and Cristobal found Jones inside the ten yard line. The reception left the Waveriders two yards shy of the first down, but changed the field position game and forced Hilo to go on a drive from their own six yard line.
Hilo (5-2, 3-2) struggled to move the ball up the field, milking over 3 minutes off of the clock while failing to get past the 30 yard line. On fourth down, Kell threw a pass over the middle that was deflected and fell incomplete, allowing Kealakehe to dry out the rest of the clock and secure victory.
Jones, the Waveriders’ big playmaker, had another strong night. He ran for 124 yards on 13 carries, including the third quarter touchdown run, and caught four of Cristobal’s passes for 63 yards. He also connected on both extra point chances. The 348-yard Fangupo rumbled for 46 yards on 11 carries and a score.
Kell went over 1,000 yards passing this season with his performance Saturday. He finished 13-of-26 for 92 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 17 yards on six carries. The Vikings’ leading rusher was Tristan Spikes, who rushed five times for 19 yards. Kualii caught three passes for 29 yards and the first quarter touchdown, while Jacob Genegabus brought in four completions for 22 yards.
With Saturday night’s result, the semifinal matchups are mostly set. Fourth-seeded Kea`au, who travels to Kealakehe next Friday, will make one more trip to Kailua-Kona the following Friday, October 19, to visit the top-seeded Waveriders. Meanwhile, Waiakea and Hilo will play consecutive games against one another. They will meet Friday in a game hosted by the Warriors (aired on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com) that will decide who will be the second-seed in Division I. That will determine who hosts the third meeting between the teams on Saturday, October 20.
Hilo 6 0 0 0 – 6
Kealakehe 0 0 14 0 – 14
1st (5:37) – HILO: Drew Kell 21 yard TD pass to Aven Kualii (Keola Miller XPT blocked)
3rd (6:55) – KEALAKEHE: Lennox Jones 31 yd TD run (Jones XPT good)
3rd (2:57) – KEALAKEHE: David Fangupo 1 yd TD run (Jones XPT good)
Hawaii Preparatory Academy 70, Ka`u 30
Hawaii Prep (3-5, 3-3) put up its biggest scoring output of the season with 70 points scored at home against the Ka`u Trojans. Meanwhile, Ka`u (1-5, 1-5) scored points on the field for the first time this season after being shut out by every other Division II opponent.