WAILUKU - This was a titanic battle between two hard-hitting teams and a couple of the best offensive players in the state.
Baldwin High School quarterback Keelan Ewaliko outlasted Farrington running back Tyler Taumua to lead the Bears to a dramatic 28-24 win Friday in the quarterfinals of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I state tournament in front of about 3,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
The Bears' first win in the state tournament since 2007 didn't arrive until Ewaliko delivered the final knockout blow on an exhilarating 33-yard touchdown scramble, running over two Farrington defenders with 42 seconds to play.
Baldwin High School quarterback Keelan Ewaliko follows the block of Jameson Kahalekai-Bermoy in the first quarter Friday night.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"That last TD run, brah, my team was depending on me and I didn't want to let them down," Ewaliko said. "I tried my best and I got hit once, but I just told myself, 'You are not going down, you are going to score, and then I just regained my balance and ran all the way."
Farrington had a 15-play, 80-yard drive to take a 24-21 lead with 5:01 to play on a 1-yard dive by Taumua, his fourth touchdown of the night. The state's leading rusher finished with 157 yards on 27 carries - he had 1,727 rushing yards on the season - and his final TD created the fourth lead change of the night.
Ewaliko's third touchdown run - he also had a touchdown pass - was the fifth and final lead change.
"That was supposed to be a pass, but when in doubt, run the ball," Ewaliko said with a wide smile. "It felt really good, it just came as a sigh of relief."
Baldwin (9-1), the third seed and seventh-ranked team in the state by scoringlive.com, advances to face second-seeded Punahou next Friday at Aloha Stadium. Farrington ends its season at 10-2 after a 10-0 start.
Farrington turned an eight-point halftime deficit into an 18-14 lead in the third quarter with the help of a recurring mistake by the Baldwin punt team.
First, the Governors closed to within 14-12 on a 10-play, 68-yard drive when Taumua dove in from a yard out with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
Then a bad snap on punt formation for the Bears gave the Govs the ball on the Baldwin 25 and two runs by Taumua, the second from 20 yards away, made it 18-14 with 3:43 left in the quarter.
Then it was Baldwin's turn to take advantage of a Farrington miscue.
Kaipo Lapenia-Lau smacked Taumua, forcing a loss of six yards and a fumble that Lapenia-Lau recovered on the Farrington 16-yard line.
Seven plays later, Ewaliko fought his way into the end zone from a yard out to give the Bears a 21-18 lead with 10:33 to play.
The Bears' six second-half possessions produce Ewaliko's two touchdowns and four three-and-out series.
The final touchdown drive covered just 29 yards after a 24-yard punt return by Isei Finau. The Bears took over with 1:35 to play.
"It was a whole team effort. Without the O-line, (Ewaliko) wouldn't have been able to run," Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos said as well-wishers engulfed him. "But what can I say about Keelan Ewaliko? Like I said, he is something special."
After the final touchdown, Farrington threw four incomplete passes, and Ewaliko ran out the final 11 seconds.
"He just wouldn't be denied, he is a tough kid," Roloos said. "It is a good thing we have got Keelan, but the kids believed all the way to the end."
The Bears took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
Farrington scored first on a 92-yard, nine-play drive helped by two Baldwin penalties and capped by an 8-yard run by Taumua with 8:25 left in the first quarter. The Bears took a 7-6 lead on a 17-yard scoring run by Ewaliko on the final play of the quarter.
Late in the half, things got crazy.
Abraham Reinhardt intercepted a Travis Tamapua pass on a ball that tipped off the hands of Toma Barrett to give the Bears the ball on their own 24, but they went three-and-out before Pasoni Tasini dropped the snap on punt formation and Semo Sila blocked the kick.
The Bears stopped the Govs on that chance, but after Baldwin crossed midfield, a fumbled handoff was recovered by Farrington's Jerome Faamata with a minute and half to play. On the next play, however, Reinhardt intercepted to give Baldwin the ball on its own 36. The Bears then went 64 yards in five plays - three of them Ewaliko passes to Kaiana Camvel for 35 yards, including a 12-yard scoring hookup with 23 seconds left in the half.
Baldwin then recovered an onside kick for the second time in the game, but Taniela Prescott intercepted a pass on the next play.
Ewaliko was 13-for-20 passing for 109 yards and ran 20 times for 112.
Farrington finished with 351 total yards of offense, while Baldwin had 243.
"That was a nice, old-school, hard-hitting ballgame," Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said. "Both teams like to run the ball, but you have to give credit to the quarterback. Breaking tackles, getting to the end zone, he really earned that last score that they got and we wish them well the rest of the way."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Farrington ..... 6 ..... 0 ..... 12 ....... 6-24
Baldwin ......... 7 ..... 7 ....... 0 ..... 14-28
F-Tyler Taumua 4 run (kick failed), 8:25.
B-Keelan Ewalko 17 run (Dean Phillips kick), 0:00.
B-Kaiana Camvel 12 pass from Ewaliko (Phillips kick), 0:23.
F-Taumua 1 run (run failed), 6:05.
F-Taumua 20 run (kick failed), 3:43.
B-Ewaliko 1 run (Phillips kick), 10:33.
F-Taumua 1 run (kick blocked), 5:01.
B-Ewaliko 33 run (Phillips kick), 0:42.
RUSHING-F, Taumua 27-157, Abraham Silva 12-47, Tavale Masalosalo 7-25, Travis Tamapua 4-9. B, Ewaliko 20-112, Vetekina Malafu 15-36, Branden Kaupe 1-(minus-2), Team 1-(minus 12).
PASSING-F, Tamapua 9-18-2-123. B, Ewaliko 13-20-1-109.
RECEIVING-F, Toma Barrett 7-111, Shane Cabato-Machado 1-6, Tyler Milton Liana 1-6. B, Camvel 7-41, Malafu 2-33, Kaupe 2-1, Brandon Fernandez 1-23, Kyson-Lee Kaiama 1-11.
STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Quarterfinal-Baldwin 28, Farrington 24
Quarterfinal-Leilehua 35, Kealakehe 24
Friday, Nov. 18
Semifinal-Baldwin vs. Punahou at Aloha Stadium, 4 or 7 p.m. (OC16)
Semifinal-Kahuku vs. Leilehua at Aloha Stadium, 4 or 7 p.m. (OC16)
Quarterfinal-Kapaa vs. Pearl City at Vidinha Stadium, 4:30 p.m.
Quarterfinal-Lahainaluna vs. Konawaena at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 18
Semifinal-Waipahu vs. Lahainaluna-Konawaena winner at Oahu site TBD, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19
Semifinal-Kapaa-Pearl City winner at No. 1 Iolani, 2 p.m.