From a playoff positioning standpoint, Friday night’s Leilehua-Mililani matchup meant plenty to the Trojans, and not so much to the bye-assured Mules.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good old-fashioned rivalry game in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West.
Mules senior quarterback Kenan Sadanaga led a gallant 80-yard drive and hit Allen Racette with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 16.7 seconds left to lead No. 3 Leilehua over Mililani 40-33 at the Trojans’ field, preserving an undefeated regular season for the West’s top seed (6-0 OIA, 7-0-1 overall).
It was the last of Sadanaga’s four touchdown passes as he went 32-for-45 for 301 yards and two interceptions, which overshadowed a rousing Mililani comeback bid and a brilliant night by Trojans junior quarterback Jarin Morikawa.
“I don’t think you would expect anything less (between these teams),” Mules interim head coach Mark Kurisu said. “When you come into a game knowing it’s a rivalry game, a lot more pressure is put on yourself. … We treat them like they’re the No. 1 team in the state.”
Mililani was game for an aerial duel. All Morikawa did was go 20-for-31 for 397 yards with touchdown passes to five different receivers, rallying the Trojans from a 33-14 third-quarter deficit.
The game lived up to its traditional billing by the time Sadanaga, driving to go back up by two scores, was picked off at the goal line by Mililani’s Branson Funakoshi with 6 minutes left.
On the very next play, Morikawa found Erren Jean-Pierre for a 99-yard catch-and-run from the right sideline. After a missed extra point, the game was tied at 33 with 5:43 to go.
Each team had a three-and-out drive. Then it was back to the Mules, and it was Sadanaga time, just like during a late comeback to tie Service (Alaska) to open the season.
“At the end we had to finish and we knew what we had to do,” Sadanaga said. “We had a late turnover, but we stayed comfortable and we knew we could get it back.”
The senior coolly went 6-for-7 on the drive, not including a spiked ball, and passed for the whole 80 yards for the go-ahead score to Racette.
Mules receivers Mikal Peyton and Jeremiah Andrade combined for 20 catches and 195 yards in the win.
Jean-Pierre caught four passes for 158 yards in the loss. He was one of five Mililani receivers with more than 50 yards.
Morikawa had a few downfield heaves and got a couple of penalty-induced extra chances with the clock showing zero. But the Mules’ defense — which is accustomed to holding opponents to under 100 yards passing — finally came through.
Mililani (2-4, 3-5), not assured of a playoff berth in the Red West, now must wait and see how a logjam unfurls among several teams. It could come down to a coin flip.
“Give all the credit to Leilehua and Coach Kurisu, Coach (Nolan) Tokuda and the entire Leilehua football program,” Trojans coach Rod York said. “We knew they were undefeated … but that went out the window when we play because it’s a rivalry game. … They made the plays when they needed to, while we had our opportunities and we didn’t do it.”
It was the final home game for 33 Trojans seniors, and they got it started with a bang. Safety Chris Wong picked off Sadanaga’s second pass of the game and Mililani made it count with two fourth-down conversions in Leilehua territory. The latter was a 33-yard strike from Morikawa to speedy Deshawn Duncan-Benson for a 7-0 lead.
Leilehua came right back with a 55-yard kickoff return by Andrade, and the Mules needed six plays to tie it up on an 11-yard plunge by Keannu Kamakaiwi.
The visitors followed up by converting a Mililani fumble at midfield into seven more points on a 1-yard breakthrough by Racette.
Sadanaga found Peyton on the second of his two TD grabs, a 12-yarder with 32.2 seconds left in the first half, giving Leilehua a 27-14 halftime lead.
|Leilehua (6-0, 7-0-1)||14||13||6||7||—||40|
|Mililani (2-4, 3-5)||7||7||13||6||—||33|
Mil—Deshawn Duncan-Benson 33 pass from Jarin Morikawa (Morikawa kick)
Lei—Keannu Kamakaiwi 11 run (Tim Momiyama Jr. kick)
Lei—Allen Racette 1 run (Momiyama kick)
Lei—Mikal Peyton 8 pass from Kenan Sadanaga (run failed)
Mil—Erren Jean-Pierre 30 pass from Morikawa (Morikawa kick)
Lei—Peyton 12 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
Lei—Penitoto Melei 1 pass from Sadanaga (run failed)
Mil—Ryan Reedy 46 pass from Morikawa (kick failed)
Mil—Kaimi Wilson 7 pass from Morikawa (Morikawa kick)
Mil—Jean-Pierre 99 pass from Morikawa (kick failed)
Lei—Racette 16 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
RUSHING—Leilehua: Kamakaiwi 6-32, Andrade 1-12, Sadanaga 6-7, Racette 4-5, Cole DeCorte 3-4, Peyton 1-0. Mililani: Akana Arquette 19-88, Kaimi Andres-Kamakua 5-6, Team 1-(-2), Duncan-Benson 1-(-5), Morikawa 8-(-32).
PASSING—Leilehua: Sadanaga 32-45-2-301. Mililani: Morikawa 20-31-1-397.
RECEIVING—Leilehua: Peyton 11-93, Andrade 9-102, Racette 6-36, Josh Jenks 3-64, Larry Paas 1-7, Melei 1-1, DeCorte 1-(-2). Mililani: Wilson 6-55, Duncan-Benson 5-77, Jean-Pierre 4-158, Cole Trent 3-52, Reedy 2-55.
Junior varsity—Leilehua 35, Mililani 14