Posted: September 3, 2012 - 1:25pm
Local product Solomon makes triumphant return
Senior quarterback Anu Solomon passed for 231 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Bishop Gorman over Saint Louis. ScoringLive file photo
Prior to this past Saturday, the last time Anu Solomon played on Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium was as a youth football player for Pearl City Highlands.
Now a three-star recruit quarterback verbally committed to the University of Arizona, Solomon made a triumphant return to the islands by leading ESPNRise No. 16-ranked Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) to a 52-40 victory over Saint Louis.
"It feels great, I love it here," said Solomon, who was raised on O'ahu and attended Kapalama Elementary School until he was 11 years old. "I wish we could stay here for two more weeks."
Things went well from the start for Solomon, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, who has been the starter for three state championship teams since his freshman year.
He completed 3 of 6 passes for 51 yards on the game's opening drive, including a 13-yard touchdown screen toss to running back Nate Starks on third-and-9. The drive covered 81 yards in 10 plays with just under four minutes elapsed.
Midway through the second quarter, Solomon completed all three of his pass attempts following Terrence Chambers' 31-yard punt return, topping it off with a 3-yard TD fade throw to a diving Jamir Tillman. Kline Fielden's extra point made it 14-0 with 5:11 remaining in the half.
Robert Stanley recovered a fumble on the Crusaders' ensuing possession, and Solomon showed his mobility -- first on a 7-yard keeper and then on a 6-yard touchdown scramble after eluding a sack attempt and racing to the left pylon.
Just before the break, Solomon completed passes of 31 and 24 yards to Starks and Tillman, respectively, to set up Starks' 3-yard scoring run that helped the Gaels take a 28-0 lead into the locker room.
Solomon finished the first half with 10 completions in 15 attempts, for 164 yards and two TDs, plus the 6-yard touchdown scramble.
"He's an amazing player," said Vinnie Passas, Saint Louis' offensive coordinator who has worked one-on-one with Solomon during the quarterback's visits to Hawai'i on school breaks. "He has the best touch I've seen in a long time, and besides being an outstanding football player, he is also a genuine person. The University of Arizona is very fortunate to be getting a player like him."
After the Crusaders rallied in the third quarter to close it to 42-20, Solomon threw his third TD pass 46 seconds into the fourth quarter on a perfect 18-yard rainbow strike to Ryan Smith, who made a smooth over-the-shoulder catch in the back right corner of the end zone. Fielden's PAT made it 49-20.
That lead held up as Saint Louis continued to rally, scoring the final touchdown with four seconds left.
Solomon finished with 14 completions in 25 attempts (no interceptions), for 231 yards and three TDs, in addition to 18 yards and one touchdown rushing on five carries. He was sacked only once, thanks in part to the protection of another Hawai'i-born product, center Lott Haia-Kahalewai.
After the game, Solomon and Haia-Kahalewai were greeted by dozens of relatives lining the first row of the Mauka sideline seats. Solomon's father, Jarrett, was a standout linebacker for Farrington and Haia-Kahalewai's father, Orrin, was a starting offensive lineman on Kaiser's 1979 Prep Bowl championship team.
Both Solomon and Haia-Kahalewai headed to the locker room with Hawai'i graduation-style stacks of lei rising from their shoulder pads.
"Now I definitely know how my dad felt playing here," Haia-Kahalewai said. "I know he's proud of me tonight."