Leilehua tops Baldwin
|Photo gallery: Leilehua outlasts Baldwin in Division I state semifinal|
|Video: State Division I football tournament semifinals|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
In the highest scoring semifinal in state tournament history, it was defense that made the difference and lifted No. 2 Leilehua to a heart-thumping 41-34 win against No. 4 Baldwin last night before 7,842 at Aloha Stadium.
The Mules (9-4) will play top-ranked Saint Louis (11-0) 8 p.m. Friday for the Division I championship at Aloha Stadium. The last time they met was in preseason last year in which the Crusaders won 20-0. The last time they played in a championship was the 1984 Oahu Prep Bowl with the Mules winning, 10-0.
An interception at the Mules' one-yard line by Allan Macam on second-and-10 from the Leilehua 30 drove the dagger that broke the Bears' collective hearts for the second consecutive year in the semifinals. Last year, the Bears' hopes were dashed by eventual state champion Kahuku on a last-second pass play. They end their season at 9-2.
"All I was thinking about were my teammates and how we needed that (interception)," Macam said. "Feels great. My teammates pulled it off."
The Bears took over from their 20 with 1:46 left, converting a fourth-and-13 with a 31-yard reception by Kalei Kamahele from Jordan Helle to the Mules' 30. After spiking the ball to stop the clock with 20 seconds, Helle fired to the right side near the goal line to Kamahele. Macam and Kamahele both went up for the ball like a rebound with Macam coming down with the ball at the 1 with 13 seconds left.
The Mules ran a sneak to run the rest of the clock off.
"It hurts," said Helle, who completed 21 of 49 passes for 303 yard and four touchdowns. "It hurts for most of us for three years, four years, to come that close. But you gotta give it up to Leilehua. They played their hearts out."
The Mules scored all of their points in the middle two quarters. An interception by linebacker Robert Siavii that was returned to the Bears' 48 set up the Mules' go-ahead TD, a one-yard run by Bronson Pausa with 3:45 left in the third quarter. The Mules struck again on their next series when Andrew Manley hit Macam on a 30-yard TD pass with 1:52 left in the third quarter that made it 41-27.
Manley, the sophomore called up from the JV for the O'ahu Interscholastic Association quarterfinals because of injuries to two quarterbacks, was as poised as a veteran, completing 19 of 37 for 263 yards and one TD. He was intercepted twice.
But it was the defense that came up with big plays. Before his interception, Siavii returned a fumble 47 yards for a TD that put Leilehua ahead, 20-13 with 2:39 left in the first half.
Besides a well-played game, there were displays of good sportsmanship after. Siavii gave Helle a crossbones sticker when the teams exchanged handshakes.
"They played a hell of game," Siavii said of the Bears.
The Mules put the heat on Helle in the second half with more blitzes. The Bears also could not find all-state receiver Chase Nakamura, who had five catches for 90 yards, including a 52-yard TD, but was limited to one reception for 15 yards in the second half.
"They stepped up the pressure in the second half," Helle said. "I had to make a lot of quicker decisions and the corners played very well against Chase and Kalei."
"He just got caught up in the game," first-year Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos said. "The interceptions didn't help either."
Still, it was another heart-breaker for the Bears.
The Bears capitalized on a Mules' fumble on their first series of the second half. David Kaanana recovered at the Mules' 49, where the Bears drove and scored on a 14-yard TD pass from Helle to the right corner of the end zone to Skyler Cabacungan, who on a ball after it was tipped by Art Laurel to make it 27-20 with 8:36 in the third quarter.
But the Mules came back. A four-play, 83-yard drive, aided by a 49-yard reception by Edieson Dumlao, set up a 21-yard TD run by Zaire Macapagal to tie the game at 27 with 7:23 in the third quarter.
Siavii's 18-yard interception return to the Bears' 48 was cashed in by the Mules. A six-play drive was capped by a one-yard TD run by Pausa with 3:45 in the third quarter for a 34-27 lead.
The Mules scored on their next series on a 30-yard TD pass from Manley to Macam to make it 41-27 with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
The Bears closed to 41-34 when linebacker Kahai Morton returned a Manley interception 18 yards for a touchdown with 11:08 left in the game.
BALDWIN (9-2) 13 7 7 734
LEILEHUA (9-4) 0 20 21 041
Bald Kalei Kamahele 27 pass from Jordan Helle (kick failed)
Bald Chase Nakamura 52 pass from Helle (Brick Shishido kick)
Lei Bronson Pausa 2 run (kick blocked)
Lei Elijah Manaea 34 pass from Andrew Manley (Garrison Garma kick)
Bald Skyler Cabacungan 19 pass from Helle (Shishido kick)
Bald Cabacungan 14 pass from Helle (Shishido kick)
Lei Zaire Macapagal 21 run (Garma kick)
Lei Pausa 1 run (Garma kick)
Lei Allan Macam 30 pass from Manley (Garma kick)
Bald Kahai Morton 18 interception return (Shishido kick) RUSHING Baldwin: Chansi Bolosan 7-28, Cabacungan 1-1, Helle 8-(minus 41). Leilehua: Macapagal 12-71, Rico Newman 6-12, Pausa 3-3, Manley 7-(minus 28).
PASSING Baldwin: Helle 21-49-3-303, Cabacungan 1-1-0-31. Leilehua: Manley 19-37-2-263, Newman 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING Baldwin: Kamahele 11-166, Nakamura 6-105, Cabacungan 4-58, Aaron Ross 1-5. Leilehua: Edieson Dumlao 8-123, Macapagal 4-22, Manaea 3-62, Macam 2-49, Pausa 1-10, Newman 1-(minus 3).
Reported by HHSAA
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.