WAILUKU - This game was all about streaks, and the most impressive to emerge was the one built by the relentless Lahainaluna High School football team's defense.
Baldwin hadn't lost a Maui Interscholastic League game since 2009 - a string of 17 wins in a row - but the Lunas put up their third straight shutout to start MIL play this season in an emphatic 32-0 victory Friday night in front of about 6,000 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
It was one of the biggest wins for the Lunas over Baldwin in recent memory - and the first time in more than a decade that Baldwin was held scoreless in an MIL contest.
Lahainaluna High School’s (from left) Tytus Lucas, Asi Fatongia and Samiuela Filiai tackle Baldwin’s Dusty Flores for a loss during the second quarter of the Lunas’ 32-0 victory over the Bears on Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Baldwin was missing two-time MIL Offensive Player of the Year Keelan Ewaliko (broken rib) at quarterback and MIL All-Star linebacker Jordan Hoiem (flu), but by the end it didn't seem to make much difference.
Lahainaluna quarterback Kiko Kohler-Fonohema had 144 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a nifty 64-yard run up the middle for the first score.
"I told the kids we have got to keep things in perspective," Lunas co-head coach Garret Tihada said. "They have got two of their best players out and this is only the first round. We are happy to get the win, we are happy with the progress our kids are making, but again, this is the first round."
Lahainaluna (3-0), which clinched the MIL Division II first-round title with the victory, allowed just 124 yards - more than half of them after the outcome was decided.
The Lunas, who had 316 yards of offense, also created four turnovers, giving them 10 takeaways in their last two games. They scored touchdowns off three of the turnovers on Friday.
"Very, very impressive," Tihada said of his defense. "Because (the Bears) are big and physical up front on both sides of the ball, we didn't get the type of push that we normally do on both sides of the ball, offense and defense, that we have been getting. Baldwin had a really off night tonight - they will be back."
That was a big part of a message that Bears coach A.J. Roloos had for his players after the worst league loss in his five years at the helm.
"You make mistakes, you make turnovers, you are not going to win games," Roloos said. "Lahaina came out to play, we came out sluggish, they came out ready to play. There is nothing else I can say. We lost to a good team. They are tough, they game-planned well. We have one more game against them, so we will be ready next time."
It became clear that this was the Lunas' night early in the third quarter.
After a bad snap on punt formation sailed over the head of Lahainaluna's Tytus Lucas, he recovered the ball near his own 5-yard line, went to the right and nearly got a first down, coming up five yards short.
That gave the ball to the Bears (1-1) on the Lunas' 32, but they ended up gaining only three yards - including completing their first pass of the night, for negative yardage - and missed a 45-yard field goal when Zacharia Coloma-Mariano's try hit the crossbar.
On the Bears' next possession, they moved the ball 33 yards on the ground on five straight runs before Jeffrey Ancog picked off a Ryan Graham pass in the end zone and returned it to the Lunas' 31.
Lahainaluna then punted, but Baldwin fumbled it on its first play from scrimmage - Lucas recovered at the Bears' 42 with 10 minutes, 48 seconds to play. An 11-play drive followed, and Jared Rocha-Isalas dove into the end zone from the 1 to make the score 19-0 with 4:59 left.
The Lunas put the exclamation point on the game in an eight-second span on the scoreboard after a defensive stand inside their own 10 with less than three minutes to play.
On the Lunas' first play from scrimmage, Semisi Filikitonga went 92 yards for a touchdown. After a touchback on the kickoff, Ancog intercepted another Graham pass and returned it 25 yards for the final touchdown with 2:38 to go.
The Bears lost for just the third time in 63 MIL games dating back to 2004 - Lahainaluna had the last league win over Baldwin, 28-14 in the final game of the 2009 season.
The Lunas didn't take long to snap their 13 1/2-quarter scoreless streak against the Bears that dated back to a 27-20 loss on Sept. 17, 2010.
On Lahainaluna's third possession, Kohler-Fonohema saw a hole in the Baldwin defense and went straight up the middle untouched for a 64-yard touchdown on third-and-10 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
The Lunas, who lost 41-0 and 40-0 to the Bears last year on the heels of a 14-0 loss to end the 2010 season, made the score 12-0 just 64 seconds later after Baldwin turned the ball over - a snap sailed over Graham's head and was recovered by Asi Fatongia on the Bears' 14. Kohler-Fonohema went 11 yards on the first play from scrimmage for the Lunas and Lucas scored on the next play.
In the first half, Lahainaluna had 141 yards to minus-2 for Baldwin. The Lunas did commit its first turnover this season - on their 151st snap from center in four overall games - when Rocha-Isalas was stripped of the ball and Tevarua Eldridge recovered.
The Bears ran 24 times in the first half, and 14 times they gained negative or zero yards.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lahainaluna ..... 12 ..... 0 ..... 0 ..... 20-32
Baldwin .............. 0 ..... 0 ..... 0 ......... 0-0
LL-Kiko Kohler-Fonohema 64 run (run failed), 3:52.
LL-Tytus Lucas 3 run (pass failed), 2:48.
LL-Jared Rocha-Isalas 1 run (Christian Cardenas-Ayala kick), 4:59.
LL-Semisi Filikitonga 92 run (kick failed), 2:46.
LL-Jeffrey Ancog 25 interception return (Cardenas-Ayala kick), 2:38.
Junior varsity-Lahainaluna 21, Baldwin 0.
Lahainaluna 32, Baldwin 0
King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 14
Maui High at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15
Baldwin at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.