WAILUKU, Maui >> When Baldwin converted a pair of turnovers into field goals in the first quarter to take a 10-point lead, Mililani fans couldn’t be blamed for thinking, “Here we go again.”
Eight turnovers the previous week, including five in the first period alone, resulted in a lopsided loss to Kahuku in the OIA Red championship game.
But instead of folding, the Trojans regrouped Friday night, rallying from a 13-3 deficit to a 24-13 victory over the Bears in an opening-round game of the state Division I football tournament on a windy night at War Memorial Stadium.
“At this point in time, the teams are all pretty even. It comes down to which team has the most heart and makes more plays,” Mililani coach Rod York of turning things around in the second half. “It was either that, or go home.”
The win improved Mililani’s record to 10-2 and earned the Trojans a berth in Friday’s semifinals against second-seeded Punahou at Aloha Stadium.
Ironically, given Mililani’s status as the state’s top passing team, and its painful performance the week before in a 50-13 loss to Kahuku, it was the Trojans’ ground attack and a key takeaway at the expense of Baldwin quarterback Keelan Ewaliko that set the stage for their comeback win.
Leading the way for the Trojans was the versatile Dayton Furuta.
Offensively, the 6-foot, 215-pound junior rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries and two scores, doing most of his damage in the second half to give his team control of the game.
Defensively, the hard-hitting linebacker was one of several players responsible for enabling Mililani to contain Ewaliko.