Trent McKinney found himself on the wrong side of a big play and facing an early deficit last night against Radford.
So the Mililani quarterback spent the rest of the evening delivering the telling blows in a 37-14 win over the Rams to open the Trojans’ Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West schedule.
Mililani’s first possession ended with McKinney’s punt being blocked by Radford’s Krix Hugley to set up Andrew Togialua’s 3-yard plunge, giving the Rams a 6-0 lead and hope of an early-season upset.
But the double-thud off McKinney’s foot seemed to ignite the Trojans. McKinney and receiver Hassan Richardson connected on four passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to power the fifth-ranked Trojans (3-0, 1-0) to a comfortable lead by the break.
McKinney was involved in all but one of Mililani’s seven plays over 20 yards in the first half. The dual-threat quarterback finished with 242 passing yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards and two more scores.
"It got us going," McKinney said of the blocked punt. "We realized we’re not just going to run over Radford and they were a good team and we had to wake up.
McKinney’s first two touchdowns went to the 6-foot-4 Richardson, who pulled down deep throws covering 40, 50 and 35 yards, the last two going for scores. Richardson, who either outran or outjumped Radford defenders to reel in the throws from McKinney, finished with five receptions for 152 yards.
"We practice it all day and we executed it in the game," Richardson said of his deep connections with McKinney. "It all comes from practice."
Said McKinney: "Give him the ball and he’s going to make plays. He’s a great athlete and he got us going early."
After Radford — which moved up from the OIA White to join the Red this season — went ahead early, the Mililani defense stifled the Rams offense. The Trojans harassed Radford quarterback Maika Ulufale throughout the evening, never letting the Rams establish a rhythm to their short passing game.
But Mililani head coach Rod York’s focus was trained toward containing the run and the Trojans limited the Rams to 23 rushing yards.
"Our thing is stopping the run. Next week, that’s what it’s about," York said, alluding to the Trojans’ upcoming showdown with Waianae. "(The Seariders are) a tough matchup for us."
McKinney has proven to be a tough match for most defenses with his ability to break big plays through the air and on the ground.
Even when the Rams appeared to have him contained, McKinney found openings in the defense. With Mililani up 14-6 in the second quarter, the Rams chased McKinney out of the pocket to his left. But he stopped just before the sideline and fired a strike to Taylor Searle for a 24-yard touchdown pass, his third scoring throw of the game.
"It’s hard when we’re going against a good quarterback like Trent McKinney," Radford head coach Fred Salanoa said. "They made the plays when they needed to make the plays and we just came up short.
"Fortunate for us, this happened early in the season. We have a bye next week and I think we’re OK. We were in position, they just made the plays."
McKinney closed the first-half scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw and added a 5-yard scoring run in the fourth.
Radford closed with running back Phil Hogan taking a swing pass from Ulufale 19 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
"My biggest thing is our kids didn’t quit," Salanoa said. "Week in week out we’re going to have a fight."