KEAAU — Everyone calls Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley by his nickname, “Bobby.” The Ka’u sophomore quarterback doesn’t know how he got that tag. But one thing he does know is how to diagnose a defense, which leads to touchdowns.
Officially, it was an exhibition, and the Trojans walloped Lanai 62-42 in an eight-man game on Saturday at the Cougars Stadium, where Pilanca-Emmsley produced seven touchdowns and a performance to remember.
Pilanca-Emmsley said the Trojans didn’t treat the game as an exhibition.
“Our coach said we were playing to be the No. 1 team in eight-man,” he said.
It sure seemed that way for Ka’u (3-0), considering the Pine Lads (4-1) whipped the Trojans 90-58 last year. The two-time defending BIIF champs never looked to be in trouble.
That’s largely due to the Trojans’ ability to prevent explosive plays (20 yards or more) from the Pine Lads, who employ a brutal brand of smash-mouth football and unleash Bobby Touchdown, who rushed for six scores (5, 21, 9, 38, 25, 63 yards) and had a 53-yard pick-six.
Pilanca-Emmsley grabbed two interceptions, was in a handful of tackles and shut down Lanai’s deep-ball threat. That was on defense.
He was equally brilliant on offense: 290 yards on 32 carries and 2 of 4 passing for 48 yards. His only blemish was a harmless interception.
And he wasn’t alone in the production department. The Trojans ran out of a bunch formation with Kanoa Kailiawa as a lead-blocking fullback and finished with 576 yards on 71 attempts, a healthy 8.1 yard average.
Shesley Martinez added 162 yards on 20 attempts, and Manu Kalau-Keliikoa had 44 yards on four carries for the Trojans, who rotated Bobby, Martinez, and Andre Carvalho (10 carries, 40 yards) at Wildcat QB.
Defensively, the Trojans, with one deep safety, focused on sealing the perimeter and guarding the long ball.
“Everybody played tough,” Ka’u coach DuWayne Ke said. “We wanted to stop them from going around the corner. Our defense worked really hard.”
The Pine Lads finished with 215 rushing yards on 33 carries, a 6.5 yard average. But they couldn’t establish a rhythm with their aerial attack.
Down 32-22 at halftime, Lanai came out throwing the ball in the second half; quarterback Devrene Kahananui-Alejado went 5 of 15 for 91 yards.
When the Trojans stormed the backfield, he found seams and escaped for 121 yards on 18 carries. Naighel Calderon was also a ground threat with 71 yards on eight attempts.
Both teams had two turnovers each, but only one was harmful — Pilanca-Emmsley’s 53-yard pick-six, the highlight of the first half.
In the third quarter, Lanai’s Jesse Sigrah scored on a five-yard run to cut Ka’u’s lead to 38-30, making it a one-score game.
But four plays later, Pilanca-Emmsley broke three tackles and scored on a 38-yard run to push the Trojans ahead 46-30.
In the fourth quarter, the scoreboard malfunctioned and stopped working, keeping spectators on edge how much time the Pine Lads had to stage a comeback or how many minutes the Trojans needed to drain.
The game lasted well over three hours, mainly due to the numerous timeout delays for injuries. It wasn’t players cramping up, rather players needing a breather with all the hard tackles.
To cap a six-play drive that covered 55 yards, Kahananui-Alejado raced in for a 15-yard touchdown to get Lanai within 54-42 with an unknown amount of time left.
Then on the first play from scrimmage, Pilanca-Emmsley followed his blockers and ran up the middle for a momentum-securing 62-yard touchdown and a 62-42 cushion.
“I’m speechless,” Bobby Touchdown said. “Our offensive line did work tonight. We all came together as a team.
“Lanai is a dangerous team. But I have to give a shout-out to my line. They did a good job, and the whole team, too.”
Ke had high praise for Pilanca-Emmsley, who’s been the Tribune-Herald Athlete of the Week before.
“He should be the Athlete of the Year,” Ke said.
Lanai 14 8 14 6 — 42
Ka’u 16 16 14 16 — 62
Ka’u — Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley 5 run (Shesley Martinez run), 9:40
Lanai — Naighel Calderon 19 run (pass failed), 7:53
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 21 run (Shesley Martinez run), 9:40
Lanai — Devrene Kahananui-Alejado 3 run (Kahananui-Alejado pass from Calderon), :01
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 53 interception (Martinez run), 8:08
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 9 run (Andre Carvalho run), 1:17
Lanai — Kian Tubera 38 pass from Kahananui-Alejado (Tubera pass from Kahananui-Alejado), :48
Ka’u — Martinez 1 run (run failed), 9:22
Lanai — Jesse Sigrah 5 run (Tubera pass from Kahananui-Alejado), 7:58
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 38 run (Andre Carvalho run), 7:02
Lanai — Kahananui-Alejado 4 run (pass failed), 6:21
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 25 run (Carvalho run)
Lanai — Kahananui-Alejado 15 run (run failed)
Ka’u — Pilanca-Emmsley 63 run (Carvalho run)