KEALAKEKUA — Konawaena could get used to this Thursday night football thing. Especially if they all go how the contest against Hawaii PrepAcademy went on a brisk weekday evening at Julian Yates Field.
The Wildcats (3-0 BIIF D-II) racked up six rushing touchdowns and freshman quarterback Sheynen Nahale added three more as Konawaena coasted to a 62-13 win and a 3-0 start to the BIIF season.
As a team, the Wildcats rushed for 302 yards — a 99-yard touchdown run by Riley Sato late in the fourth quarter being the gem of the night.
Orion Smith (53 yards, 1 TD), Cyrus Jumalon (51 yards, 3 TDs) and Jaimison Medeiros (66 yards, 1 TD) propelled the Konawaena rushing attack for most of the game.
Nahale finished the night 20 of 38 for 207 yards.
The Konawaena defensive unit has allowed just one touchdown in the last two weeks, with the 14 combined points by Hawaii Prep and Waiakea being scored on interception returns. Against Ka Makani, the unit turned in its best performance of the season so far, notching double-digit sacks, forcing three turnovers, collecting two safeties and holding Hawaii Prep to just under 100 yards of total offense. A pair of long second half receptions helped push Ka Makani out of the red.
And the Wildcat unit saved its best for last, turning away Ka Makani four times for a goal line stand to set up Sato’s long run.
The victory extends the Wildcats BIIF winning streak to 18, with the program’s last loss to a Big Island foe coming in its 2016 season opener to Hilo.
Hawaii Prep’s first three plays went backwards thanks to Konawaena’s strong interior pressure, led by defensive tackle Tevin Canda. The Wildcats also slipped through on the punt, blocking it and setting up a short field for the offense.
Three consecutive completions by Nahale and a short run by Jumalon broke the brief scoreless tie. However, the usual surefire extra point was missed by the Wildcats, which would become a theme and brought into focus the absence of stellar kicker Harry Hill, who was sidelined with an injury.
Through just over five minutes, Konawaena had run 21 plays to Hawaii Preps four — a margin that would grow even larger as the half continued. A safety caused by a stray snap didn’t help Ka Makani’s cause — making it 8-0 — and gave the Wildcats yet another chance with the ball on offense.
Smith tore through the Hawaii Prep defense before Nahale found Hunter Wehrsig, who did the rest, bowling over a defender at the goal line to make it 14-0.
Hawaii Prep turned the ball over two times in the first quarter, with Jesse Canda snaring an interception and a backwards pass resulting in a fumble.
However, it would be Ka Makani that scored the next points off a turnover, with Justin Lina stepping in front of Nahale’s pass and returning it 83 yards for the score. Lina added another interception in the second half.
But the Konawaena offense kept chugging. Medeiros kicked off the second quarter with a short touchdown run, and Jumalon added another shortly after to extend the margin. Nahale then found Jesse Canda over the middle of the end zone to stretch the lead to 35-7 late in the first half.
Hawaii Prep picked up its first, first down with 3:05 left in the half, when Sheldon Aribal was hit late along the Konawaena sideline, drawing a 15-yard flag. A nice connection between Seth Beach and Umikoa Kealoha gave Ka Makani another first down on the drive, but the Wildcat defense had seen enough, forcing another punt.
Ka Makani got its highlight of the night early in the second half, when Keawe Strance ripped off a 73-yard catch-and-run to the Wildcats 1. Beach scored on the QB keeper on the next play, making it 35-13.
It was all Konawaena the rest of the way, with the Wildcats scoring the next 27 points to secure the victory, despite a bit of late drama.
With a running clock, Hawaii Prep threatened to score after a 53-yard pass from Beach to Jaysen Bragado. But Konawaena’s defense had one more highlight left in them, shutting down Hawaii Prep four times from inside the 5-yard line, setting up Sato’s record-tying, 99-yard run to close out the contest.
Hawaii Prep 7 0 6 0 –13
Konawaena 14 21 20 7 –62
KONA — Cyrus Jumalon 4 run (Kalai Santiago kick failed)
yKONA — Hunter Wehrsig 14 pass from Sheynen Nahale (kick failed)
HPA — Justin Lina 83 interception return (kick good)
KONA — Jaimison Medeiros 2 run (kick good)
KONA — Jumalon 2 run (Santiago kick good)
KONA — Nahale 2 pass to Jesse Canda (kick good)
HPA — Seth Beach 1 run (kick failed)
KONA — Wehrsig 17 pass from Nahale (kick failed)
KONA — Sole Kelekolio 11 run (kick failed)
KONA — Safety
KONA — Jumalon 20 run (kick failed)
KONA – Riley Sato 99 run (kick good)