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Acoba rushes for 158 yards as Kauai clips Kalaheo

Paul Honda
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Darren Acoba of Kauai ran over Kalaheo yesterday.

LIHUE » Darren Acoba picked the right time to have the game of his life.

The senior running back rushed for 132 of his 158 yards in the second half as Kauai rallied for a 17-13 win over a gritty Kalaheo squad last night before a crowd of about 1,600 at Vidinha Stadium.

Kauai, the champion of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation, advanced to the semifinal round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II State Football Championships and will visit top-seeded ‘Iolani on Saturday.

"We still have to work hard," said Acoba, who had just 15 carries.

Learning that ‘Iolani’s coaching staff was in attendance, Acoba smiled.

"I don’t want to say anything. We just gotta keep working hard, keep pushing," he said.

Using its wishbone attack, Kauai (8-1) struggled early and trailed 7-3 at the half, but the visiting Mustangs (6-5) — all 29 of them — ran out of gas in the second half. With several starters playing both ways and on special teams, Kalaheo had little resistance as the Red Raiders pounded away.

"We did our best and Kauai came out on top," Kalaheo coach Chris Mellor said. "Congratulations to Kauai. I hope they win it all and represent their island great."

Kauai’s midseason transition from a run-and-shoot offense to a wishbone has proved to be pivotal.

"We have some guys who played in a wishbone at Pop Warner," quarterback/defensive back/placekicker Shea Shimabukuro said.

Kauai coach Derek Borrero noted that assistants Mario Longboy and Craig Koga were those former Pop Warner coaches who happen to be wishbone gurus.

"It’s not about me. We’ve got a whole bunch of coaches who have come together this year. I needed help," Borrero said.

Key for Kauai’s defense was discipline. The unit held Kalaheo quarterback Justin Pagan, a dangerous scrambler, to just 39 yards on 20 carries. He also lost two fumbles. Running back Jesse Carney finished with 48 yards on 11 attempts against a swarming defense.

"Both (teams) were getting tired," Acoba said. "We found a way to push through."

Shimabukuro and his offensive line used misdirection plays to get Acoba out to the edge after halftime. A 53-yard kickoff return by Jake Leake set up Kauai’s first possession of the second half. Acoba, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound speedster, bolted off right tackle for a 30-yard touchdown two plays later and Kauai led 10-7 with 11:10 left in the third quarter.

"I found a hole to the outside and I ran," Acoba said. "My tackles and my fullback did it."

Kalaheo regained the lead on an 11-yard pass from Pagan to Nainoa Frank on a post route, and the visitors led 13-10 with 1:50 remaining in the third.

Kauai answered quickly, handing the ball to Acoba for gains of 9, 13 and 16 yards before he burst off left tackle for a 29-yard touchdown. The Red Raiders led 17-13 with 38 seconds to go in the third.

Kalaheo’s final two possessions got no farther than the Kauai 48-yard line.

By then, Frank (seven catches, 82 yards) was wobbling around with a knee injury and receiver Sage Richardson’s ribs were hurting.

A last-ditch drive in the final minutes ended with a fumble by Pagan at the Kalaheo 38-yard line, recovered by defensive lineman Daylin Huni, and Kauai ran out the final 1:54.

Until halftime, it seemed to be Kalaheo’s destiny to pull out a win on the road. The Mustangs, hogging the ball with their veer attack, had the ball for roughly 16 of 24 minutes in the first half.

Pagan’s 1-yard keeper behind the fullback capped the opening drive, a 17-play, 71-yard march. Kalaheo led 7-0 with 4:08 remaining in the first quarter.

Pagan found Frank five times for 63 yards through the air in the first half to keep the chains moving. However, Kalaheo’s next two possessions ended with turnovers — a fumble by Pagan recovered by defensive end Kalen Kimura at the Kauai 36-yard line, and an errant pass picked off by Shimabukuro at the Red Raiders’ 10.

Shimabukuro missed a 38-yard field-goal try midway through the second quarter. However, after his pick, Kauai drove to the Kalaheo 6-yard line and settled for his 23-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the half.


At Vidinha Stadium

Kalaheo 7 0 6 0 13
Kauai 0 3 14 0 17

KAL–Justin Pagan 1 run (Danielle Ferguson kick)
KAU–Shea Shimabukuro FG 23
KAU–Darren Acoba 30 run (Shimabukuro kick)
KAL–Nainoa Frank 11 pass from Pagan (kick failed)
KAU–Acoba 29 run (Shimabukuro kick)

RUSHING–Kal: Jesse Carney 11-48, Pagan 20-39, Anthony Maglinti 3-(minus -7). Kau: Acoba 15-158, Jake Leake 8-48, Travis Koga 8-46, Austin Motooka 5-24, Dreyke Smith-Butac 1-4, Keoki Pantorilla 1-2, Shimabukuro 3-(minus -13).
PASSING–Kal: Pagan 14-20-1-148. Kau: Shimabukuro 2-4-0-25.
RECEIVING–Kal: Frank 7-82, Sage Richardson 3-25, Carney 3-25, Quincy Mason 1-16. Kau: Acoba 2-25.


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