Helle throws for 290 yards, three scores in 22-17 win over Mililani
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
WAILUKU, Maui — The Valley Isle proved to be another dead end for an O'ahu Interscholastic Association football team in the state tournament last night.
Jordan Helle completed 21 of 31 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns to lead Baldwin to a 22-17 victory over Mililani in the first round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Championships.
The Bears, playing before a spirited home crowd of about 4,000 at War Memorial Stadium, improved to 10-0-1 and will play defending champ Kahuku (9-2) in Friday's semifinals at Aloha Stadium. Mililani's season ends at 8-4.
It was the fourth time since 1999 that an OIA team saw its state title hopes dashed by a Maui Interscholastic League champion at War Memorial. Farrington (1999), Kailua (2003) and Mililani (2004) were the previous victims.
"From the beginning of the summer, we knew there was something special about this team," said Helle, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior in his first season as a starter. "We have nine returning starters on offense, and our defense is solid. It would have been nice to have played a preseason game, but now we get to show what we've got."
The MIL played a 10-game regular season this year, eliminating the possibility of any non-league competition until the state tournament.
But Baldwin showed last night it is as legitimate a contender as any team from O'ahu.
The Bears took a 22-17 lead with 10:21 remaining in the game on Helle's 14-yard touchdown pass to Chase Nakamura. The Trojans advanced to the Bears' 29 on its final series, but a Hail Mary pass on the game's last play fell incomplete in the end zone.
Nakamura, a 6-3, 170-pound junior, finished with seven catches for 114 yards and three TDs, including a spectacular 43-yard reception in the end zone off a ball tipped by Mililani safety Isaiah Lawelawe.
Baldwin receiver Colten Quinabo, a 5-11, 180-pound senior, added five catches for 92 yards, including a 44-yard pass play in which he was tripped up at the Trojans' 2. That set up Dane Fernandez's 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half to cut Mililani's lead to 17-9.
"That's what we were afraid of — the big play," Trojans coach James Millwood said. "We had real good coverage on them a lot of times, but they still went up and caught it. The way they threw the ball to those tall receivers, we knew they could make things happen."
The Bears struck first with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Helle to Nakamura with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter, but the extra-point attempt failed. Mililani answered with an 11-play, 76-yard drive culminating in Lawelawe's 1-yard TD run, and Colin Lund's extra point made it 7-6.
Lund's 41-yard field goal barely cleared the crossbar to make it 10-6 with 5:17 left in the half, and his extra point after a 1-yard touchdown dive by Jordan Torres pushed the lead to 17-6 with 1:31 remaining before the break.
The ensuing kickoff hit a Bear and the Trojans recovered the ball, but they lost it three plays later when Kyle Kaimiola-Ka'aihue recovered a fumbled handoff exchange. Baldwin capitalized with Dane Fernandez's 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half, set up by Helle's 44-yard pass to Quinabo.
The Bears quickly closed the lead to 17-15 after the second-half kickoff by going 70 yards in five plays, with Helle connecting with Nakamura on the 43-yard TD pass.
Baldwin's go-ahead touchdown came after an eight-play, 67-yard drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-kicker penalty on fourth-and-26 from the Mililani 36 on a punt attempt.
"That was a huge penalty," Bears coach Jimmy Morimoto said. "Things could have been different if it weren't for that."
But Millwood gave credit to Baldwin's defense for shutting out the Trojans in the second half, and said they still had an opportunity to win at the end.
"We were playing off (the rush) for a safe punt," Millwood said, when asked if a block attempt was planned. "It (the penalty) happened, but at least we had a chance at the end."
Now, it is Baldwin's chance to make more history by becoming the first MIL team to advance past the semifinals.
"We felt confident because our coaches prepared us so well," Nakamura said. "We know we beat a great team tonight."
MILILANI (4-3) 7 10 0 0—17
BALDWIN (10-0-1) 6 3 6 7—22
Bald — Nakamura 36 pass from Helle (kick failed)
Mili — Lawelawe 1 run (Colin Lund kick)
Mili — FG Burns 41
Mili — Torres 1 run (Lund kick)
Bald — FG Fernandez 19
Bald — Nakamura 43 pass from Helle (pass failed)
Bald — Nakamura 14 pass from Helle (Fernandez kick)
RUSHING — Mililani: Torres 21-125, Lawelawe 10-73, Kala Perbera 4-15. Baldwin: Bolosan 15-77, Kyle Kaimiola 1-1, Quinabo 1-(minus-5).
PASSING — Mililani: Rustin Funakoshi 12-22-1—175. Baldwin: Helle 21-31-2—290.
RECEIVING — Mililani: Scott Burns 2-30, Lund 4-82, Perbera 2-16, B.J. Ogg 2-11, Ikaika Payomo 2-36. Baldwin: Nakamura 7-114, Colten Quinabo 5-92, Ikaika Lau 5-70, Skyler Cabacungun 3-30, Levi Aki 1-(minus-16).
Reach Wes Nakama at email@example.com.