No. 6 Moanalua downs Radford
Friday night’s contest between No. 6 Moanalua and Radford pitted the lone undefeated and winless squads in the OIA Division I standings.
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Friday night’s contest between No. 6 Moanalua and Radford pitted the lone undefeated and winless squads in the OIA Division I standings. Na Mehenune eventually prevailed 33-13, but the Rams put up a strong fight.
“We didn’t play to our highest potential. We didn’t play fast, we didn’t play competitive. At times we showed spurts, but I don’t know what it was,” Moanalua coach Savai’i Eselu said. “It was a good win, but yeah.”
After forcing a Radford (0-7, 0-5 OIA D-I) three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, Na Menehune (8-0, 6-0) scored on their first possession when quarterback RJ Javar and Jansen York connected on a 34-yard touchdown with 9:04 remaining in the first.
The rest of the quarter was equal parts sluggish and sloppy for the state’s sixth-ranked team. Javar was pressured a handful of times and wasn’t helped by multiple drops on deep balls. The quarterback didn’t help his own cause in the first half with a handful of missed throws to open receivers.
Radford took advantage of Moanalua’s lack of urgency, blocking a punt that was returned by Johnathan Jenkins 27 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 left in the first.
Moanalua’s defense did its part in the first half, not allowing any points from the Rams offensively. Moanalua continued to leave points on the board on different occasions, including a fumbled snap on a Griffin Motas field-goal attempt. They also muffed two punt returns, although Na Menehune recovered both.
To Eselu, a 19-6 lead at halftime felt like “we were playing at a horrible level in terms of executing. But hats off to Radford and coach (Fred) Salanoa. They came out to play.”
Moanalua got the ball to start the second half, but many of the same miscues from the first half persisted. Missed throws and dropped passes resulted in Na Menehune turning it over on downs on fourth-and-long at the Radford 15 instead of opting for the field-goal try.
Lawsen Lee’s acrobatic one-handed touchdown grab from 20 yards out seemed to spark Na Menehune, who extended their lead to 26-6 with 1:40 to go in the third quarter.
“I turned around and RJ had let go of the ball. I thought it was overthrown, but I just stuck my hand out and I just pulled it in,” Lee said. “I was happy.”
Javar’s fourth and final touchdown of the game was a 13-yard throw to Jacob Richmond with 8:54 left, giving Moanalua a commanding 33-6 lead with 8:54 left.
Radford was held to 1 passing yard the entire game and relied on Damon Nelson as the wildcat quarterback in the second half. Nelson and the Rams finally broke through on offense with a 10-yard score with 1:12 left in the game.