The last time they met in the Spirit of Freedom Bowl, the Radford Rams made the Leilehua Mules feel uncomfortable, to say the least.
This time, the Mules took charge early and hung on for a 24-17 win at John Velasco Field.
Leilehua’s unpredictable, stand-up defense limited the Rams to 34 rushing yards on 21 carries.
"It’s hard to single one guy out," Mules coach Nolan Tokuda said. "They worked well together."
Sixth-ranked Leilehua improved to 4-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West (4-1 overall) thanks to a strong start and finish by quarterback Kenan Sadanaga, who passed for 224 yards (13-for-20) and two touchdowns.
Radford dropped to 2-2 in league play (3-3 overall) despite limiting the visitors to 31 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
Mules wide receiver Darrien Shealy was clutch, grabbing touchdown bombs of 73 and 62 yards. His 73-yarder from Russell Siavii on a trick play — it began with a lateral pass from Sadanaga — came on the second play from scrimmage.
"It’s just a play we put in from what they showed us on film," Shealy said.
It was an impressive gadget play — Siavii’s left-handed spiral soared at least 40 yards and hit Shealy in stride.
"Breaking the momentum on that second play, that forced them to have to come back," Tokuda said. "They’re tough. They’ve got solid defense, special teams and their offense is tough."
The Rams were close all the way. Cayman Conley’s 24-yard field goal got them on the scoreboard late in the first quarter.
An interception by Dorsey Norris gave the Rams a short field to work with, and Maika Ulufale found Zach Tinao-Rabellizsa on a post route for a 24-yard touchdown one play later. Radford led 10-7 with 6:21 to go in the first half.
A 27-yard field goal by Tim Momiyama tied the game at 10-all with 1:18 left in the half.
The game remained a stalemate through most of the third quarter before Shealy pulled in a quick pass on an out pattern, then beat the defender for a 62-yard touchdown play.
"That was just a missed read by the defense," Shealy said.
The Mules led 17-10 with 9 seconds to go in the third quarter.
After an exchange of turnovers early in the fourth, Sadanaga found Elijah Barro for a 5-yard touchdown pass, giving Leilehua a 24-10 lead with 6:46 remaining.
The Mules, who picked off Ulufale twice after halftime, got one from two-way contributor Jeremiah Andrade to snuff out a Radford scoring threat in the red zone.
Radford got a 1-yard plunge from Ulufale with 1:17 left, but the ensuing on-side kick was deflected out of bounds by the Mules, and they retained possession, running out the clock.
"Our quarterbacks were great today, but we’ve got a lot to work on," Shealy said.
Last year, the teams were in different classifications and met in a nonconference game. Leilehua escaped with a 23-20 win as Radford limited Andrew Manley to sub-50 percent passing.
"They’ll always play us tough," Tokuda said.
|Leilehua (4-1, 4-0)||7||3||7||7||–24|
|Radford (3-3, 2-2)||3||7||0||7||–17|
LEI–Darrien Shealey 73 pass from Russell Siavii (Tim Momiyama kick)
RAD–Cayman Conley 24 FG
RAD–Zach Tinao-Rabellizsa 24 pass from Maika Ulufale (Conley kick)
LEI–Momiyama 27 FG
LEI–Shealy 62 pass from Kenan Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
LEI–Elijah Barro 5 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
RAD–Ulufale 1 run (Conley kick)
RUSHING–Lei: Sadanaga 5-15, Allen Racette 4-12, Fred Padrones 3-7, Austin Schmidt 3-2, Stan Mersburgh 2-(-1), Jordan Kalaau 4-(-4). Rad: Phil Hogan 14-47, Ulufale 7-(-13).
PASSING–Lei: Sadanaga 13-20-1-224, Siavii 1-1-0-73, Kalaau 2-5-0-13. Rad: Ulufale 15-31-2-183.
RECEIVING–Lei: Jeremiah Andrade 5-45, Padrones 4-81, Barro 3-20, Shealy 2-135, Racette 2-29. Rad: Andrew Togiailua 4-53, Tinao-Rabellizsa 3-46, Dorsey Norris 2-34, Tevita Baravilala 2-31, P.J. Day 1-10, Matthew Baker 1-9, Kevin Acasio 1-2, T.J. Reid 1-(-2).
Junior varsity–Leilehua 39, Radford 6