Big Blue went with the big blast, right up the gut.
The game plan worked to near-perfection, and Moanalua is now in the quarterfinals of the OIA Red playoffs. Richard Parham and Kaleo Yanai combined for 140 yards as Moanalua rallied past Waipahu 31-20 on Friday night.
Moanalua (5-4 overall) took the lead for good, 17-14, early in the third quarter on Micah Kaneshiro’s 5-yard slant pass to Jon-Michael Sharsh. With defensive tackle Scott Pagano wreaking havoc in Waipahu’s backfield, the visitors struggled to move the ball in the third quarter.
With 6:33 to play, Kaneshiro found Chad Aragon for a 21-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, and Na Menehune led 24-14.
A fumble recovery led to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kai Mercado-Aiona to Isaiah Alama with 1:45 left, bringing the Marauders within 24-20. But Pagano blocked the PAT kick and Tahi Caldwell emerged with the football after a pileup on the ensuing onside kick.
Wide receiver Donald Lambert then lined up as a wildcat quarterback and scored on a 53-yard run to put the game away with 1:25 remaining.
A crowd of about 1,500 watched at Moanalua’s field as the home team overcame 182 yards in penalties. Pagano had four of his team’s five sacks to keep Waipahu quarterbacks Kaimi Paredes and Solomon Matautia under control much of the night.
“We played our normal defense, but you have to stop Paredes,” Moanalua coach Arnold Martinez said.
Kaneshiro spent most of the night handing the ball to Parham and Yanai, who were north-south runners on nearly every play. Na Menehune rushed for 209 yards on 36 attempts, reducing the pressure on their junior slinger, Kaneshiro. He still passed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 13-for-19 accuracy. He was picked off twice by Waipahu safety Solomon Matautia.
“We love our kids and we’re proud of them. They had to deal with a tough, physical team,” Martinez said. “They’ve got beastly players. Thick, aggressive.”