Posted: October 20, 2012 - 8:10pm
Nanakuli's big second half stuns Kaiser, 28-21
HAWAII KAI - Nanakuli might have been lost in the shuffle of teams having turnaround seasons, but it provided a shocking reminder Saturday night at Kaiser Stadium.
The Golden Hawks, posting a 4-29 record the past four seasons under coach John Lopes, rallied from a 21-point half-time deficit to stun Kaiser, 28-21, in an O'ahu Interscholastic Association White semifinal. The fourth-seed of the tournament will take on second-seeded Radford for the White championship Nov. 2 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium. Both teams have qualified for the Division II state tournament.
Since White tournament started in 2003 (with the advent of the Division II state tournament), this is the second time a fourth seed in the White tournament will play for the title. In 2006, fourth seed Kaimuki lost to second seed Waipahu in the championship.
Trailing 21-20, quarterback Chazz Troutman's eight-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Shelton on a fade to the left side of the end zone with 27 seconds left and Troutman's 2-point conversion run capped 28 unanswered points by the Golden Hawks (6-3).
The ensuing kickoff was a touchback and Kaiser took over at its 20. The Cougars moved to the Nanakuli 42 with five seconds left. But Makana Lyman's Hail Mary to a convergence of Kaiser receivers and Nanakuli defensive backs fell incomplete to end the game, leaving the Cougar fans in silent disbelief.
"This is big for us," Troutman said. "We haven't done this in a long time."
Kaiser, 10th in the ScoringLive/OC 16 Power Rankings, saw its seven-game win streak snapped. Having come off a 3-14 record the past two seasons in the Red East, much was made of the Cougars' turnaround season with first-year coach Richard Miano. But their best player - running back/safety Kai Gonda - was sidelined in the second half with a back spasm or sprain, Miano said. Miano said the doctors and athletic trainers advised Gonda not continue playing. Gonda had 55 yards rushing on 11 carries and had a TD reception in the first half.
Lopes admitted he did not notice Gonda missing, but realized the injury might have been a difference maker.
"He makes things happen for them," Lopes said. "I never realized he was out, but now, I see that was a big plus for us. If he was in the game, it might have made a difference."
Miano said he would like to think his team wasn't dependent on one player.
"He's been a great player for us, but there's enough so we don't rely on one person," Miano said. "This is a team. We lost this thing as a team. There's enough mistakes to go around offensively, defensively and special teams. He's a big part of who we are, but we're a football team and we should be able to overcome these things, so it's really disappointing."
The Golden Hawks rally began in the third quarter when Dezmond Kaaihue blocked Christian Clapp's punt and returned it two yards for Nanakuli's first TD. Shelton's PAT made it 21-7 with 4:17 left in the third quarter.
From there, Nanakuli began chipping away. Without Gonda, the Cougars had trouble sustaining drives. The Golden Hawks were able to string a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive that ended with a 13-yard TD pass from Troutman to Lansen Liki with 14 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 21-14.
Kaiser's ensuing series was stopped when Jaryn Paris intercepted Makana Lyman's long pass and returned it to the Nanakuli 45. Nine plays later, Troutman sneaked in the from the 1 with 8:25 left in the game. But Shelton missed the PAT and Kaiser held a 21-20 lead.
Nanakuli's onside kick failed and Kaiser took over at its 49, but eventually lost the ball on downs at the Golden Hawks 29 with 7:01 left.
But Nanakuli started the series without Troutman, who had cramps, Lopes said. The Golden Hawks eventually punted with Shelton's 60-yarder going for a touchback. But Kaiser's offense stalled, losing a yard and forcing it to punt. Clapp's 41-yard punt was downed at the Nanakuli 40 with 2:05 left. The 60-yard drive, aided by a roughing the passer penalty, culminated with Troutman's fade pass to the 6-foot-4 Shelton with 27 seconds left. A penalty against Kaiser on the PAT moved the ball to about the 2-yard line and Troutman sneaked in for the 2-point conversion.
"We saw the mismatch and I just threw it high and he caught it," Troutman said.
Just as Nanakuli dominated the second half with 14 first downs, Kaiser owned the first half, limiting the Golden Hawks to four first downs.
Kaiser won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Cougars were methodical in their 15-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 6:04 and ended with Lyman hitting Gonda on a swing pass for a 10-yard touchdown. Clapp's PAT gave Kaiser a 7-0 lead.
Kaiser's second score was set up when Shelton's punt was partially blocked and went for zero yards to the Nanakuli 39. The Cougars needed just five plays to score Lyman's eight-yard pass to Ikona Makaneole with 6:28 in the half to make it 14-0.
Kaiser appeared to still have control early in the third quarter. Nanakuli punted after its first series and Kaiser's 10-play, 69-yard drive ended with 6-2, 240-pound Fitou Fisiiahi scoring on a one-yard run with 5:52 on the clock to make it 21-0.
Gonda's injury had a trickle effect. He is a two-way player, so the lack of his presence was felt on defense as well. Also, Fisiiahi, a defensive lineman, took more snap as a blocking back on offense to shore up Kaiser's offense. The fatigue might have had an effect in the second half; in the first half, he had three tackles for no gain or lost yardage.
It was a bittersweet season for the Cougars.
"It's tough right now," said Miano, an 11-year NFL veteran and a former assistant at the University of Hawaii the previous 13 seasons. "It hurts as much as any loss I've been associated with. At the same time, just watching these kids work hard, win as many games as they did, we thought we could build a championship and obviously that's not going to happen, so it's disappointing."
October 20, 2012
Kai Gonda, 10 yard touchdown pass from Makana Lyman.
Dezmond Kaaihue, punt block return for touchdown.
Joseph Shelton, 8 yard touchdown pass from Chazz Troutman.
> more video highlights
Nanakuli's Joseph Shelton goes over a Kaiser defender for the go-ahead score. Greg Yamamoto | SL
Kaiser running back Kai Gonda hits the open field on a carry against Nanakuli. Greg Yamamoto | SL
Nanakuli players celebrate after a come-from-behind victory over Kaiser. Greg Yamamoto | SL