Posted: September 8, 2012 - 1:40am
No. 10 Aiea rallies past No. 4 Leilehua, 18-16
WAHIAWA - Wendell Say knows that history repeats itself and he was hoping for that to happen again Friday night.
Jae Won Huh kicked a 27-yard field goal with three minutes and 37 seconds to play to lift Aiea to a thrilling 18-16 upset of previously-unbeaten Leilehua before a homecoming crowd of about 3,000 at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.
Na Alii, ranked 10th in the ScoringLive/OC16 Power Rankings, improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West Conference. Fourth-ranked Leilehua fell to 3-1 and 1-1.
"I was telling the kids that I've been here 33 years and 30 years ago, we came here and played a good Leilehua team and we upset them in 1982 and 20 years ago we upset a good Leilehua team in the playoffs, so I told them our opportunity is here," said Say, whose team was outgained 313 yards to 141. "We just had to cut down on our mistakes, like penalties, which killed us against Campbell."
Mana Kaahanui's second touchdown run and the ensuing two-point conversion pass from Isaiah Hernandez-Fonoti to Kamakana Apelu gave Aiea its first lead at 15-9, late in the third quarter after trailing, 9-0, at halftime.
Leilehua tied it with 6:01 to play on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Levi Castanares to Keannu Kamakaiwi and the extra point by Brennan Jacinto gave the Mules a 16-15 lead.
On Aiea's ensuing possession, Kaahanui broke free down the right sideline for a 45-yard gain and four plays later, Huh converted the 27-yard field goal - just inside of the left upright - for the go-ahead score with 3:37 remaining.
"Jae Won is a weapon for us and hopefully he'll continue to get better," Say said of his junior place kicker.
Leilehua had one final drive, but was plagued by four penalties - including three holding calls - and two Na Alii sacks and got no further than the Aiea 47-yard line. Castanares had a fourth-down desperation heave fall incomplete and Na Alii took a knee to run out the clock.
Leilehua took an early lead, just three plays into the game, on a 12-yard fumble return for touchdown by safety Branson Funakoshi.
Late in the first quarter, Aiea's Jarrel Chaviera received a late pitch from quarterback Shaenan Hernandez-Fonoti in his own end zone and linebacker Samson Zimmerman was there to tackle him for a Mules' safety. Leilehua held a 9-0 lead at halftime.
"They knew what they had to at that point," Say said of his team. "We just had to settle down and play. We had a game plan that we all felt would work, but we got a little excited in the beginning, but they showed a lot of heart to come back."
Na Alii capitalized on a Leilehua turnover early in the third quarter when a high snap over Justin Jenks' head was recovered by Benjamin Taliulu to give his team first-and-goal from the Mules 5-yard line. Jenks suffered what appeared to be a left shoulder injury and did not return to the game. Two plays later, Kaahanui punched it in from five yards out to get Aiea on the scoreboard. Huh kicked the extra point to close the Leilehua lead to 9-7.
Another Leilehua miscue - this time on special teams - gave Aiea a short field late in the third quarter. A 15-yard punt allowed Na Alii to start their drive at the Mules 19-yard line. A facemask penalty against Leilehua moved the ball to the 8 and Kaahanui turned the left corner on the next play for an 8-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left in the third. Isaiah Hernandez-Fonoti, who relieved his brother, Shaenan, in the second half, found Apelu on a short pass for the two-point conversion.
"Our defense played a good game and (the offense) knew we had to help them out, so we just pushed with our heart and came out with the win," said Kaahanui, who finished with 95 yards on 17 rushes. "It feels real good, but I couldn't have done it without my O-line."
Castanares played nearly the entire second half and completed 19 of 25 passes for 192 yards. Jenks finished 15-of-26 passing for 135 yards. Each quarterback was intercepted once. Keoni Piceno had game-highs of 13 receptions for 134 yards.
Leilehua entered the game plus-11 in turnover ratio, but turned it over three times against Na Alii. The Mules were flagged for 16 penalties for 149 yards, including 10 holding calls.
Michael Taliulu recorded both interceptions and Sage Maialoha had two sacks for Aiea, which was just 2-of-14 on third downs on offense.
Say said that he is still unsure on which Hernandez-Fonoti brother will take over the starting quarterback job.
"It's still a toss-up, a work-in-progress, but the good part is someone steps up and does the job," Say said.
Na Alii blocked a 35-yard field goal try by Jacinto on the final play of the first half.
Aiea hosts Waipahu (1-2) Friday, while Leilehua visits Kapolei (1-1).
September 8, 2012
Jae Won Huh, game-winning 28 yard field goal.
> more video highlights
Aiea's Jordan Mulleitner-Nguyen and Kaleo Meheula celebrate after a play against Leilehua. Sylvia Lee | Special to SL
Leilehua LB Samson Zimmerman makes a tackle against Aiea Sylvia Lee | Special to SL