Updated at 10:35 p.m., Friday, November 24, 2006
Kahuku stuns Baldwin on final play in state semifinal
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
The touchdown capped a astonishing comeback for Kahuku, which scored twice -- a safety and touchdown -- in the game's final 10 seconds.
The defending champion Red Raiders (10-2) will try for their fifth state crown in seven years next Friday against Saint Louis, which defeated Wai'anae, 10-7, in the other semifinal Friday at Aloha Stadium.
Baldwin, which led 17-7 in the third quarter and was up 20-14 with 15 seconds remaining, ends its season at 10-1-1 after attempting to become the first Neighbor Island team to advance to a state title game.
"When Bruddah (Soliai) caught the ball and I saw the referee signal 'touchdown,' I was stunned for a couple seconds," said Kahuku quarterback Richard Torres, who started the final play by throwing a swing pass to Te'o near the left sideline. "I didn't know what to do I was speechless."
So were the several hundred fans in the Baldwin cheering section, but the 3,500 or so on the Kahuku side of Aloha Stadium were jumping for joy in a deafening roar as soon as it was apparent Te'o's perfect spiral was headed to an open Soliai.
Soliai caught the ball ahead of three defenders at about the 5-yard line, then dashed into the end zone, setting off a wild celebration as the Baldwin defense was left sprawled on the turf in disbelief.
The play was set up by Gary Nagy's 16-yard punt return on a free kick after a high punt snap by Baldwin rolled out of the end zone for a safety with 10 seconds remaining, which made the score 20-16.
The Bears had gained possession after the Red Raiders lost the ball on downs at the Baldwin 19 with 1:33 left. Kahuku had one timeout left, which it used after the Bears took a knee on first down. Baldwin took two more knees before setting up in punt formation from the 11.