POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:21 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011
Thankfully, for the Leilehua Mules, the one player with the right shoes happened to be Tim Momiyama.
The senior center/place-kicker, wearing brand new cleats on a slick surface, drilled fourth-quarter field goals of 33 and 44 yards to put the game out of reach as Leilehua escaped with a hard-earned 35-24 win over Kealakehe on Friday night at the Waveriders’ field. His success helped a team that had trouble with the spongy grass surface.
They also did it despite the struggles of wide receiver Mikhal Peyton, who went to the hospital after the game to treat an asthmatic condition. The Kona Coast was covered in vog all day and night.
“He’ll be OK,” interim head coach Mark Kurisu said.
The win advanced the Mules (10-1-1) into the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships. They’ll face No. 1-ranked Kahuku in the semifinals.
“They’re a great team. We faced them once. We’ll make our adjustments and hopefully come out with a win,” said quarterback Kenan Sadanaga, who passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
A boisterous crowd of 1,650 came alive as the home team rallied from a 22-point deficit to within 29-24 in the fourth quarter, but Momiyama was ready. His 33-yarder stretched the lead to eight points with 6:14 left despite a high snap. Holder Jeremiah Andrade got the ball down and Momiyama, who boomed every kickoff into the end zone for touchbacks, did a slight hesitation before making the kick.
His 44-yard field goal, which had an extra 10-12 yards to boot, put the game on ice with 2:57 left.
“I’ve got to thank everyone blocking, it all starts with them. It’s not all me, it’s everyone, too,” said Momiyama, who starts at center. “I trusted Miah. He put the ball on the tee perfect.”
Kealakehe’s John Kamoku, a backup quarterback, rushed for 141 yards and all three of his team’s touchdowns, including an 80-yard sprint against one of the state’s fastest units.
“He’s really fast. They were running stuff we never thought they’d go to,” Kurisu said. “You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world.”
Leilehua limited Kealakehe’s UCLA-bound running back, Psalm Wooching, to 13 yards on nine carries. That forced the Waveriders out of their usual “I” formation and into the spread.
The Mules were completely dominant in the first quarter, scoring on their first three possessions after their defense forced consecutive three and outs. The first touchdown was a trick play, a 27-yard halfback option pass from Andrade to a wide-open Peyton with 8:53 left in the first quarter.
The no-huddle Mules drove 53 yards in eight plays, using only 2 minutes. They used extra-quick huddles to hand the ball to Keanu Kamakaiwi three times in a row to set up an easy 1-yard scamper to the pylon by Allen Racette. Leilehua led 14-0 with 4:58 to go in the first.
The third touchdown came on a fourth and 10 at Kealakehe’s 34-yard line. Sadanaga found Andrade open in the middle, and the speedy senior outraced the secondary to the end zone. After Andrade scored on a muddle-huddle PAT run, the Mules led 22-0 with 2:49 remaining in the opening quarter.
With Tyler Yates out for the year with a leg injury, Kealakehe started John Kamoku at quarterback, then switched to Jacob Ontiveros. He guided the Waveriders to the Leilehua 1-yard line, but on fourth down, Wooching was stuffed for a 1-yard loss by Leilehua safety Russell Siavii.
Kamoku returned to quarterback and connected with Lennox Jones for a key 41-yard pass to set up a 13-yard scramble to paydirt by Kamoku. Kealakehe trailed 22-7 with 42 seconds left in the half.
Kealakehe’s Jordan Rapoza picked off a pass by Sadanaga on the next play from scrimmage, which led to a 26-yard field goal by Keoni Yates as the half ended.
The field-position battle went Kealakehe’s way in the third quarter, and the Waveriders drove 35 yards in seven plays to score. Instead of relying on the “I” formation that got stuffed early in the game, Kamoku lined up in the shotgun and leaped over from the 1-yard line to bring Kealakehe within 22-17 with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
The Mules finally answered Kealakehe’s threat with a 12-play, 72-yard drive. Key catches of 24 and 23 yards by Andrade set up a 4-yard play-action strike from Sadanaga to Racette for a 29-17 lead with 9:14 to go.
On the next play from scrimmage, Kamoku faked and ran off the right tackle for an 80-yard touchdown, bringing the Waveriders with 29-24 with 9 minutes left.
That’s when Momiyama stepped up with the key field goals in the biggest game of the season — so far — for the traveling Mules.
RUSHING—Leilehua: Keanu Kamakaiwi 13-66, Racette 4-3, Sadanaga 5-(-14). Kealakehe: Kamoku 25-141, Jacob Ontiveros 7-20, Wooching 9-13, Vincent Paogofie 2-6, TEAM 1-(-10).
PASSING—Leilehua: Sadanaga 17-38-1-223, Andrade 1-1-0-27. Kealakehe: Kamoku 9-20-1-152, Ontiveros 4-4-0-51.
RECEIVING—Leilehua: Andrade 9-131, Racette 7-64, Mikhal Peyton 2-55. Kealakehe: Lennox Jones 7-150, Giuseppi Zapataoliva 4-60, Wooching 2-(-7).