Late touchdown lifts Leilehua to DI crown
|Photo gallery: St. Louis vs. Leilehua football|
|Photo gallery: Leilehua Mules fans celebrate win|
|Video: Leilehua wins Division I state football title|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
No. 2 Leilehua capped a storybook season by rallying to a 20-16 win against top-ranked Saint Louis last night to win its first First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Football Championship and first major title since the 1984 O'ahu Prep Bowl.
An Aloha Stadium crowd of 15,583 watched sophomore wonder Andrew Manley hit Edieson Dumlao on a 15-yard fade pass to the right side of the end zone with 36 seconds left.
A 21-yard return on the ensuing kickoff by Vonn Feao gave the Crusaders possession at their 43 with 30 seconds left. But on first down, Micah Mamiya's pass to Lucas Gonsalves was intercepted by Micah Cruz and that preserved it for the Mules (10-4), who won their last six. Five of those victories came with Manley as the quarterback after he was called up from the JV when two quarterbacks were injured in an OIA first-round playoff game.
For the second consecutive year, the Crusaders (11-1) had their perfect season spoiled in the championship game. They are 22-2 the past two years.
Saint Louis increased their 9-6 halftime lead when it got the ball on its first possession of the second half after the Mules lost the ball on downs at the Saints' 26. Running back Keani Nishigaya rambled for 51 yards on the first three plays and the series was capped by an 18-yard TD pass from Mamiya to Gonsalves that made it 16-6.
A turning point came late in the third quarter when the Crusaders appeared to have control by running the ball. But on a second-and-8 from the Leilehua 45, the Crusaders went with a wide receiver pass with Tamatoa DeMello, who started last year's title game for the injured Mamiya. But Gerald O'Reilly sacked him for a 14-yard loss. On the next play, Mamiya was sacked for 13 yards by blitzing linebacker Art Laurel and the Saints were forced to punt from their 28.
"That might have been the turning point of the game," Saint Louis offensive coordinator Vince Passas said. "We were running the ball. It's just one of those things."
The Mules took over from their 40, converting four third downs along the way with fullback Bronson Pausa scoring on a 1-yard dive with 6:13 left in the game to pull the Mules to 16-13.
The Crusaders took over from their 17 with 6:11, but were forced to punt from midfield. But a 14-yard punt gave the Mules the ball at their 37 with 2:10 left. Then two costly 15-yard penalties in a row — a personal foul roughing the passer and a pass interference — aided the six-play drive that included a fourth-down conversion on a 3-yard run by Manley with 1:15 left. After a 6-yard pass from Manley to Allan Macam to the Saints' 15, Dumlao ran a streak to the right side and Manley hit him with a perfect fade to complete the game-winning play.
Nishigaya had 164 yards on 14 carries, while Mamiya was 11 of 23 for 155 yards and one TD. But his three interceptions matched what he had thrown entering the game.
Manley was 18 of 42 for 181 yards and one TD with two interceptions.
Despite turning over the ball three times, the Crusaders still took a 9-6 lead into the half.
Mamiya fumbled on his first play from scrimmage and threw two interceptions, one that was returned 28 yards by cornerback Allan Macam with 5:48 in the first quarter. Garrison Garma missed the PAT, keeping it 6-0.
But the Saint Louis defense also turned it up a notch, not allowing a first down until 4:31 left in the half.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders were able to tie the game with 4:54 left in the half when Mamiya scored on an option keeper to the left. But Warren Spencer also missed his PAT to keep the game even at 6.
The Mules were unable to capitalize on a Elijah Manaea's 39-yard return on the ensuing kickoff that also included a personal foul penalty against Saint Louis, giving Leilehua possession at the Saints' 30. But six plays later, Joseph O'Connor intercepted a pass by Manley in the end zone and returned it to the 9 with 2:33 left in the half.
The Crusaders were able to drive to the Mules' 30 with four seconds left. Spencer's 47-yard field goal try was short, but he got second life and an extra 15 yards when the Mules were called for a personal foul. His ensuing 32-yard try hit the right upright, but still went through with no time showing on the clock to give the Saints a 9-6 lead at intermission.
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