Konawaena Wins Wild Shootout Over Ka Makani
For the first time in four weeks, and only the third time all season, the ninth-ranked Konawaena Wildcats faced a second half deficit. After taking its first lead in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats needed all sorts of fireworks to hold off Hawaii Preparatory Academy en route to a 56-49 win over the Ka Makani.
Public address announcer Bobby Command announced to the homecoming crowd at Julian R. Yates Field in Kealakekua that the game was the highest scoring game in Big Island Interscholastic Federation history. That was a surprise to the packed crowd, but not as much of a surprise as the fight the home team received from an opponent who was shut out 43-0 in their first meeting in Waimea.
HPA (5-5, 5-4 BIIF), coming off of a gigantic 19-10 victory at home against Kamehameha-Hawai`i, carried the momentum of that win into its opening drive of the game. Junior running back Bobby Lum opened the game with a 45 yard run. Quarterback Koa Ellis Jr. capped off what would be a five play, 82 yard drive with a 27 yard touchdown run, giving Ka Makani a 7-0 lead only 1:04 into the game.
Their lead would extend to 14-0 after rattling off a 15 play, 93 yard drive that carried through the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. On a second-and-25, Ellis rolled away from trouble and dumped a short pass off to Lum, who raced down the right side of the field for a 30 yard touchdown completion to give HPA a 14-0 lead with 10:27 left in the first half.
Konawaena (8-4, 8-1) immediately answered when Lii Karratti found Domonic Morris for a 66 yard touchdown strike on the next play from scrimmage, cutting Ka Makani’s lead to 14-7 with 10:06 remaining in the first half.
After their defense came up with a big stop, Konawaena’s offense put together another long drive. Karratti’s 51 yard completion to Kenan Gaspar on the second play of the drive got Konawaena in HPA territory. Five plays later, Bubba Ellis-Noa capped off the 89 yard trek to the end zone with a two yard scoring run to tie the game at 14 with 2:13 remaining in the half.
Hawaii Prep would not waver from its gameplan with the clock winding down in the first half. Jordan Hayslip’s team loves to run the football, and three different running plays of 22, 14, and 19 yards all gained first downs for HPA. That set up Ellis’ second touchdown pass, a 17 yard completion to Michael Nakahara to give HPA a 21-13 lead with :17 left in the opening half.
Konawaena got the ball to start the second half and immediately picked apart the HPA defense with its passing attack. Three different first down completions to three different receivers got the Wildcats in the redzone, and Ellis-Noa busted through the line for his second touchdown run to finish the drive off. His one yard touchdown run tied the game at 21 with 10:04 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, HPA’s Blake Hooser ran it back 90 yards to the end zone, finding a seam on the right sideline, then cutting back to the middle of the field for the final 50 yards to return the lead to Ka Makani at 28-21 with 9:51 left in the third.
Konawaena wouldn’t let that lead hold on for long. On its first play from scrimmage after the special teams score, John Kamoku ran through a big hole in the middle of the field and ran 68 yards to the end zone, tying the game again at 28 with 9:29 left in the third quarter.
Believe it or not, this would only be a preview to the craziness of the fourth quarter.
Konawaena took their first lead of the game on the first play of the fouth quarter. Kamoku, a former quarterback at Kealakehe High School, lined up as the quarterback and took the designed running play down the left sideline and into the end zone for a 36 yard touchdown run, giving Konawaena a 35-28 lead just eight seconds into the final quarter.
After Konawaena’s Ellis-Noa picked up a key sack on his cousin, HPA’s Ellis, to end Ka Makani’s next drive, Konawena continued to pour on the points. Two plays later, Kamoku ran in his third consecutive touchdown run, this time from 27 yards away, to push the Wildcat lead to 42-28 with 7:28 remaining in the game.
HPA started to get away from its gameplan with the scoreboard getting away from them. Ellis was inercepted by Brandon Awa on a second-and-21 deep pass to give the Wildcats great field position at the HPA 25 yard line. On the next play, Karratti rolled out of the pocked and floated a ball up for grabs toward the end zone. HPA’s secondary froze as they looked up to see where the ball was headed. That proved costly because it left Morris open five yards deep in the end zone for another touchdown, extending the lead to 49-28 with 5:45 remaining.
Over, right? No one gave that message to Hawaii Prep. After a strong Hooser return to the 48 yard line, HPA quickly put together a seven play drive, all on running plays, leading to Lum’s 7 yard touchdown run to cut the defecit to 49-35 with 3:03 remaining.
Konawaena had an opportunity to run the football and try to take time off of the clock with a two touchdown lead. Instead, on the next offensive play, Karratti tossed the ball to Dishon Cho, who went on a long 60 yard run to the end zone to put the lead back up to 56-35 with 2:48 left.
Once again, Hooser stunned the green-clad crowd with another kickoff return for a touchdown, this time from 89 yards, to cut the deficit down to 56-42 with 2:33 remaining. Konawaena’s special teams unit was so shell-shocked after that return that only four guys were on the field to defend against the extra point.
The special teams woes would continue for head coach Cliff Walters’ Wildcats. Hawaii Prep’s Nicholas Palleschi recovered the onside kick with no effort by any Konawaena player to pick up or even attempt to go for the football. Five plays later, Ellis found Palleschi with a nine-yard touchdown pass in the middle of the end zone to make it a one score game, 56-49, with 1:30 remaining.
HPA would not recover the onside kick, but with two timeouts in their pocket, they had a chance to make one defensive stop to get the ball back. After a seven yard run by Karratti and two yard run by Kamoku, HPA’s hopes of completing their fourth quarter comeback rested on a third-and-one stop. Instead, Kamoku put the game on ice with his 19 yard run to allow the WIldcats to run the clock out.
Kamoku’s dominant fourth quarter helped get him to a 200 yard rushing day on only 11 carries with the three touchdown runs. He also had one catch for 28 yards.
Not to be out done, HPA’s Lum had a stellar night on the ground. He finished with 221 yards rushing on 28 carries and a rushing touchdown. He also three catches for 45 yards and another touchdown
Hawaii Prep’s Ellis had one of his better all-around games of the season. He completed 10 of his 20 passes for 149 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also had 14 rushes for 88 yards and a rushing touchdown.
His counterpart, Karratti, threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns, pushing up his season touchdown total to 40. He completed 16 of 29 passes on the evening.
Hawaii Preparatory Academy 7 14 7 21 – 49
Konawaena 0 14 14 28 – 56