Waipahu running back Alfred Failauga left Wahiawa on Friday night with the state’s all-time rushing record.
Even so, Leilehua’s defense continued to turn in impressive numbers in a 23-13 OIA Division I win over the Marauders at Hugh Yoshida Stadium
Failauga rushed for 186 yards on 39 carries and passed former Mililani running back Vavae Malepeai for the career yardage record in raising his total to 4,681 three games into his senior season.
But No. 8 Leilehua (3-0, 2-0 OIA D-I), coming off back-to-back shutouts, kept the Marauders out of the end zone deep into the third quarter — when Waipahu (1-2, 1-1) scored on an interception return. The Leilehua defense finally surrendered its first score of the season when Failauga broke loose for a 22-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the game.
“We’re young, we graduated a bunch of guys last year that were tremendous playmakers and it’s good to see growth in tough moments,” Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu said. “I like the grind that they go through pushing themselves.”
Failauga has been a workhorse for the Marauders since his freshman season in 2016. He racked up 576 yards on 55 carries in Waipahu’s first two games this season to enter Friday’s game 54 yards short of the record. He passed Malepeai on his eighth carry, a 4-yard gain with about four minutes left in the first quarter.
“I thank the man above for this wonderful opportunity. … I want to thank the linemen for blocking for me — without them I wouldn’t be the guy standing here today,” Failauga said. “We lost … but we’re just going to get back together and we’re going to look for our mistakes and we’re going to get back out there and show people what we can do.”
While Failauga continued to add to the record, the Mules shut down the rest of the Waipahu offense, limiting the Marauders to minus-16 yards aside from Failauga’s rushing total.
“To us our mind-set is not letting anybody score,” said Leilehua defensive lineman Kiaka Pio, who was a regular in the Waipahu backfield throughout the night. “Our game plan was just to do our job and, to me, everybody did their job very well.”
Leilehua forced a punt on Waipahu’s first possession and pounced on a high punt snap at the Marauders’ 17. The Mules faced third-and-goal at the 2 when Mules quarterback Kalei Akagi hit Vitale Afoa over the middle for the game’s first touchdown.
Waipahu’s defense broke up the shutout late in the third quarter when Fiva Tulafale intercepted a pass over the middle and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.