McQuown's three TD passes help Seariders topple Kealakehe, 28-14
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
WAI'ANAE — In a game where the outcome wasn't as dominating as the final score would indicate, No. 5 Wai'anae struggled past No. 7 Kealakehe, 28-14, last night in an opening round game of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Football Championships at Raymond Torii Field.
The Seariders (8-4) will play top-ranked and long-time nemesis Saint Louis (10-0) in one semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday at Aloha Stadium.
The Big Island Waveriders (12-1) once again saw their season terminated by the Seariders, who last year also eliminated them in the first round.
Wai'anae beat Saint Louis in their last meeting in 2005 — a 30-20 non-league victory — but the Crusaders own a 19-5 lead in the overall series.
Wai'anae's defense stepped up when it mattered most last night, amassing three fumble recoveries — only to fumble one back to Kealakehe — and three interceptions, all by cornerback Preston Ayala. One fumble recovery led to Wai'anae's first touchdown, and one of Ayala's interceptions led to the Seariders' final touchdown.
"We killed ourselves tonight," said Kealakehe's first-year coach, Cliff Walters. "We've never had trouble with turnovers before. Maybe it was jittery nerves at the beginning as we had those two quick fumbles that broke our backs early.
"But you have to give credit to Wai'anae, they're a tough team."
The Seariders managed to contain University of Hawai'i-bound running back Gabe Tuata to just 29 yards on nine carries. But the 5-foot-7, 170-pound senior did show an ability to catch and run, with six receptions for 50 yards.
"We came a long way," Tuata said. "This is what we've been fighting for on the Big Island. We've done it before, we just had to come here and meet our match."
Despite having their season end, Tuata said the experience will help the Waveriders in the future.
Wai'anae coach Danny Matsumoto was impressed with Tuata. "That guy is mean," Matsumoto said. "It was very scary. I never felt comfortable throughout the whole game."
The Waveriders finished with 104 yards rushing and 157 yards passing.
Wai'anae quarterback Ben McQuown completed 10 of 15 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. He had TD passes of 23 yards to Noah Halemano-Lyman, 24 yards to Charles Humble and 26 yards to Cranston Newman.
Running back Joe Abell's 8-yard TD run rounded out Wai'anae's scoring.
Still, it seemed like a struggle for the host Seariders. Their second fumble recovery in the first quarter led to McQuown's first TD pass, but they didn't score again until midway through the second quarter on Humble's reception that made it 13-0.
The Waveriders drove 65 yards on six plays, plus two pass interference penalties against the Seariders, before scoring on a 14-yard run by Fetuani Iongi on a pitch to the left that made it 13-7 with 2:23 left in the half.
Shawn Mongneyip intercepted McQuown to halt Wai'anae's first possession of the second half, but the Waveriders couldn't capitalize against a stubborn Searider defense.
Wai'anae increased its lead to 21-7 on Abell's 8-yard run and a two-point conversion pass from McQuown to Don Medeiros with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
Ayala's third interception of the game would lead to Newman's 22-yard TD catch with 6:23 to play.
The Waveriders responded with Jordan Ursua's 16-yard TD pass to Keoki Limahai, who started the game at quarterback, to close to 28-14 with 2:20 to play.
"Not being able to stop them hurt," Matsumoto said. "They came out with something that we weren't prepared for. (But) you gotta give credit to our defense. They played just good enough to get by and, offensively, it was nice to punch it in when we needed to."
KEALAKEHE (12-1) 0 7 0 7—14
WAI'ANAE (8-4) 7 6 8 7—28
WAIAN — Noah Halemano-Lyman 23 pass from Ben McQuown (William Duseignuer kick)
WAIAN — Charles Humble 24 pass from McQuown (kick failed)
KEA — Fetuani Iongi 14 run (Lanakila Ynigues kick)
WAIAN — Joe Abell 8 run (Don Medeiros pass from McQuown)
WAIAN — Cranston Newman 26 pass from McQuown (Duseignuer kick)
KEA — Keoki Limahai 16 pass from Jordan Ursua (Ynigues kick)
RUSHING — Kealakehe: Gabe Tuata 9-29, Iongi 7-44, Ursua 4-16, Max Papalii 1-4, Limahai 6-11. Wai'anae: David Ferreira 6-23, Medeiros 1-12, Kauwalu 11-84, Danny Kekoanui 3-16, Roy DeMello 3-22, McQuown 2-(minus 13, Abell 11-37, Team 1-(minus 7).
PASSING — Kealakehe: Limahai 9-19-3-110; Ursua 6-9-0-47. Wai'anae: McQuown 10-15-1-166.
RECEIVING — Kealakehe: Kelii Noahomoku 2-26, Tuata 6-50, Iongi 2-26, Devan Kepa Kamoku 2-20, Ursua 4-45, Limahai 1-16. Wai'anae: Halemano-Lyman 1-23, J.Kauwalu 1-19, Medeiros 1-29, Humble 1-24, Tyson Ranada 1-4, Abell 1-2, Kekoanui 1-11, Ualesi Miller 1-19, Newman 2-35.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.