In a game that benefited the losing team more than the winner, both teams gave it their all anyway.
Waianae drove from its own 1-yard line deep into Leilehua territory before falling short as time expired, and the Mules pulled out a 28-20 win over the Seariders in the third-place game of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference playoffs.
A sparse crowd at chilly Hugh Yoshida Stadium was stunned as Waianae nearly went the length of the field in the final 56 seconds. Quarterback Puletua Wilson connected with Raphael De Oliveira on a 61-yard play over the middle to spark the drive, which ended at the 9-yard line when Derek Cunningham was stopped with a 5-yard reception as time ran out on Waianae.
The game had no consequence on state-tournament berths for each team as a result of Kahuku’s ineligibility. With the OIA’s ruling on Friday that Kahuku, the favorite and top-ranked team in the state, was done for the season, the Leilehua-Waianae game was played solely for seeding purposes.
In this case, Waianae, despite the loss, gets to stay home and host Kealakehe in next weekend’s state tourney. The winner of that state quarterfinal will then play Mililani in a semifinal.
Last night’s winner, Leilehua, will travel to Baldwin for a third year in a row. The winner of that contest will then meet Saint Louis, the No. 2-ranked team in the state.
Leilehua’s Kenan Sadanaga passed for 286 yards on 28-for-35 accuracy, connecting for four touchdowns.
"We just try to complete one play at a time and get positive yards and first downs," the junior left-hander said of a shaky start and hot run. He was picked off early on, then completed 18 of his next 19 spirals.
Mules coach Nolan Tokuda was happy about the win, even with the prospect of a tougher road than Waianae.
"We just want our kids to play their best," he said. "With Waianae, you just get bus’ up. They’re more physical than us. You have to play assignment football. Our defense will always do that for us. We’ll always hang our hat on our defense."
"They have a great offense," Waianae coach Danny Matsumoto said.
The Mules opened the second half with a seven-play, 70-yard drive to paydirt. Sadanaga’s 12-yard strike to Darrien Shealy put the Mules ahead 21-12 with more than 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
"Darrien was one on one. Coach said to put the ball where only he could catch it, and the line blocked good," Sadanaga said.
A fumble recovery by Cornelius Fitausi gave the Mules the ball at the 50-yard line later in the third, and Sadanaga capitalized with his second 5-yard touchdown strike of the game to Fred Padrones. Leilehua led 28-12 with 4:13 to go in the third.
Interceptions by Brian Paul Manuel and Jaylen Mitchell stymied Waianae drives before Wilson guided them on their final march.
Wain–Puletua Wilson 1 run (kick blocked)
Wain–Wilson 10 run (pass failed)
Lei–Fred Padrones 5 pass from Kenan Sadanaga (Tim Momiyama kick)
Lei–Kalika Burner 4 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
Lei–Darrien Shealy 12 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
Lei–Padrones 5 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
Wain–Dalton Diggs 15 pass from Raphael De Oliveira (Wilson run)
RUSHING–Wain: P. Wilson 16-93, Jeremiah Andrade 4-11, James Wilson 3-8, Leighton Panui 4-8, Keola Bradley 4-6, Jaylen Mitchell 3-6, Bryson Panui 2-4, Kanekapila Hussey 1-3, Eldridge Kuiee 1-3. Lei: Sadanaga 7-16, Matai Tuaato 2-5, Stan Mersburgh 3-1 Shealy 1-1, Austin Schmidt 1-(minus 1), TEAM 1-(minus 10).
PASSING—Wain: P. Wilson 17-32-2-228, Bradley 1-1-0-15. Lei: Sadanaga 28-35-1-286, Melvin Tupinio 0-1-1-0, Andrade 2-3-0-3.
RECEIVING—Wain: Brian Paul Manuel 5-46, Lawrence Akana 4-48, Bradley 3-74, Hussey 2-33, Malei Suiaunoa 2-4, Mitchell 1-29, Hookena Kamana 1-9. Lei: Shealy 11-82, Padrones 6-59, Andrade 3-50, Elijah Barro 3-36, Schmidt 3-30, Cole DeCorte 2-26, Kalika Burner 1-4, Allan Racette 1-2.