PUKALANI - Things started - and ended - nicely enough for the King Kekaulike High School football team and new coach Clarence Rivers in their 2012 debut Saturday, but the middle added up to a 39-13 loss to Kauai High.
Kauai scored 39 points in a row after Na Alii's defense started well and its offense hit on a big play for a short-lived 6-0 lead.
King Kekaulike scored the first touchdown on a 42-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Ryley Widell to Keegan Gregg early in the second quarter. Austin Ferreira ended things with a bang for Na Alii when he intercepted backup quarterback Kelson Andrade's pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown with two minutes left in the game.
KEEGAN GREGG, caught 10 passes for 109 yards
RYLEY WIDELL, Na Alii sophomore quarterback
Kalai Yap of Kamehameha Schools Maui is brought down by Kapaa’s Austyne Carvalho-Toloai (left) and Denmark Aladin during the first half of Kamehameha’s 27-13 loss on Saturday in a nonleague game at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
REID CAIRME photo
Kalai Yap looks for running room in the first half.
REID CAIRME photo
Kapaa’s Fresno Masaniai tries to break free from Kamehameha’s Siaosi Ngalu near the end of the third quarter. Also on Saturday, Konawaena defeated Maui High 38-17 on the Big Island.
REID CAIRME photo
It was in between that was the problem for the home team.
"The game is four quarters, so we have got to learn to play all four quarters," Rivers said. "We have got to focus more, we have got to play a little better and we have got to finish."
Gregg caught 10 passes for 109 yards in the first half, but was shut out in the second half. Widell completed 15 of 21 passes in the first half for 151 yards with no interceptions, but he was 2-for-12 for 16 yards and two interceptions in the final two quarters.
Na Alii hurt themselves with 12 penalties for 124 yards, including seven major penalties, three of which gave the Red Raiders first downs.
"Right now, emotions kind of get the best of us," Rivers said. "I think we will be OK, but we still have work to do."
After Dreyke Smith-Butac ran for an 18-yard touchdown with 2:30 left in the third quarter, rain started to fall and sent the 800 fans in attendance scrambling for cover.
Kauai pulled away from an 18-6 halftime lead with touchdowns on its first two possessions of the third quarter.
Waika Alapai scored from 3 yards out just a minute in - two plays earlier, he ran 67 yards to the King Kekaulike 3-yard line. Alapai piled up 151 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Five minutes later, Pono Bukoski caught an 11-yard pass from Trey Aguano to make the score 32-6.
"They played really tough with us in the beginning," Red Raiders coach Corey Aguano said of Na Alii. "They had us confused, they were blitzing a lot, so we had to go in and make some adjustments."
One of those halftime adjustments was on covering Gregg.
"He was killing us in the first half," Corey Aguano said.
After a scoreless first quarter in which the King Kekaulike defense gave up only 13 yards, Na Alii took advantage of field position to take the lead.
King Kekaulike held Kauai to a second straight three-and-out and a 28-yard punt, and Widell immediately hit Gregg wide open over the middle for the pretty touchdown pass with 10:38 left in the first half.
Kauai marched 78 yards in 10 plays for the tying touchdown, which came on a 27-yard pass from Trey Aguano to Kalawaia Judd on a fourth-and-10 play with 7:33 remaining in the second quarter.
Alapai ran three times on a five-play, 44-yard drive the next time the Red Raiders had the ball, including the final 21 for a touchdown and 12-6 lead with 4:32 to go in the half.
Kauai's first two touchdown drives were each aided by major penalties that gave resulted in first downs. King Kekaulike was flagged nine times in the first half for 99 yards.
A personal foul was also assessed on Kauai's second touchdown play, allowing the Red Raiders to kick off from Na Alii's 45-yard line. Bukoski's bloop kickoff was caught on one bounce by Kauai's Austin Manera at the 27, and four plays later, Kanoa Iwasaki caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Trey Aguano to make it 18-6 with 4:16 left in the first half.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
King Kekaulike-Keegan Gregg 42 pass from Ryley Widell (kick failed), 10:38.
Kauai-Kalawai Judd 27 pass from Trey Aguano (kick failed), 7:33.
Kauai-Waika Alapai 21 run (kick failed), 4:32.
Kauai-Kanoa Iwasaki 10 pass from Aguano (pass failed), 4:16.
Kauai-Alapai 3 run (Pono Bukoski kick), 11:00.
Kauai-Bukoski 11 pass from Aguano (Bukoski kick), 6:09.
Kauai-Dreyke Smith-Butac 18 run (Bukoski kick), 2:30.
King Kekaulike-Austin Ferreira 98 interception return (Laakea Gonsalves kick), 2:00.
Junior varsity-Kauai High 30, King Kekaulike 15.