There were offensive fireworks, but in the end, Mililani’s defense came up clutch.
And a little blessing from Mother Nature didn’t hurt. Defensive lineman Seth Ebesugawa sacked Kamehameha quarterback Christmas Togiai, and McKenna Alcover recovered Togiai’s lateral attempt with 22 seconds left as No. 3 Mililani pulled out a wild 31-24 win over No. 6 Kamehameha.
A near-capacity crowd at soggy John Kauinana Stadium saw Kamehameha rally from a 24-3 deficit. The Warriors got their last possession at the Mililani 40-yard line with 4:42 to play. The visitors plugged away diligently on the ground as the night-long drizzle turned into a torrent.
A key 14-yard pass from Togiai to Laakea Ane gave the Warriors first down at the Mililani 15. Then came the turning point. With rain coming down and affecting visibility, Togiai eluded the pass rush and lofted a throw to the middle of the end zone, where tight end Brook Ai was wide open. He couldn’t see the ball, however, and it sailed through his hands incomplete.
On the next play, Togiai turned the ball over on the sack for the game’s biggest play, and the Trojans had an epic victory.
“I was kind of scared,” said Trojans linebacker Darius Muasau, who returned from an ankle injury to play his first game of the season. “I thought he was going to catch the ball. It was a relief. Then our defense rallied around the ball and came up with the ball. This is a big win for us. We’re going into the Saint Louis game with confidence.”
Mililani did it without two-way iron man Mykah Tuiolemotu, their defensive lineman/fullback. He suffered a leg injury early in the game and didn’t return.
Ezra Evaimalo had 2.5 sacks to spark the Warriors, whose offense caught fire in the second half as they stuck with Togiai.
“Our guys hung in there when we were down 24-3,” offensive coordinator Fred Salanoa said. “They trusted in one another when they easily could’ve laid down. They stuck with it. And the defense did a great job against an awesome team that’s been scoring a lot of points.”
Kamehameha dropped to 1-1 in Open Division play. Mililani (3-0, 1-0 OIA) didn’t get a win toward the OIA standings because only in-league games count.
Mililani’s offense was ablaze at the start. Dillon Gabriel, who passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, found Raysen Motoyama for a 6-yard swing pass and the first TD.
Ezra Save led the Trojans’ pass rush with two of his team-high three sacks on the opening series by Kamehameha. Mililani finished with seven sacks.
The Trojans got a 29-yard field goal from Liam McGehee for a 10-0 lead.
Mililani scored quickly after halftime with a 42-yard bomb from Gabriel to Ryan Chang for a 21-point margin.
Togiai answered with a key 25-yard pass to a tip-toeing Skyler Ramos, then tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Reino Bush.
On a jet-sweep trick play, Ramos passed to Togiai for a first down, and moments later, Ramos recovered a fumble by Togiai in the end zone for a miraculous TD, cutting the lead to 24-16 with 11:20 left in the game.
Kamehameha then scored on a play-action dart from Togiai to Ramos for a 40-yard TD. Hoku Arias’ jump pass to Evaimalo tied the game at 24 with 8:46 remaining.
Mililani came up clutch, using just 1 minute and 13 seconds to drive 72 yards for a go-ahead TD. Gabriel’s spiral down the right sideline found Maka Hill, his first catch of the game, for a 43-yard TD to give Mililani a 31-24 lead with 7:33 left.