Bears pull away from Warriors
PUKALANI – The Baldwin High School football team learned a lesson the last time it faced Kamehameha Schools Maui.
The Bears made it pay off in a 44-21 victory over Kamehameha at Kanaiaupuni Stadium on Friday night in front of about 1,000 fans.
The win moves the Bears, 2-0 in the second round of Maui Interscholastic League play and 5-1 in the league season, within one win of their 11th state-tournament berth in the last 12 seasons. Kamehameha Maui is 0-2 and 1-5.
After the offense carried the Bears to a 34-7 halftime lead, the defense shut the door in the second half with three interceptions, the final one returned 32 yards for a touchdown by junior middle linebacker Nohea Keahi, who had two interceptions on the night.
“We came out defensively not knowing what they were going to do,” Keahi said. “But the second half we knew what they were going to do.”
The last time these two teams played, Baldwin held a four-touchdown lead before having to survive a furious Kamehameha rally to hold on for a 42-35 win on Sept. 7.
“That’s what coach told us during the half, they are a comeback team,” Keahi said. “They were coming close, they came close.”
The last interception, with 10 seconds to play, put the icing on this game.
“It felt great, felt like I sealed the game,” Keahi said.
Baldwin built a 27-point halftime lead and didn’t flinch thereafter.
Baldwin added a 21-yard Ricky Casco field goal to open the second-half scoring before the Warriors responded with a 63-yard, seven-play drive capped by a 5-yard scoring run by Chase Newton to make it 37-14.
With the Warriors threatening to draw closer with a third-and-2 from the Baldwin 34-yard line, Patrick Turner tipped a pass over the middle and teammate Preston Paranada intercepted it with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.
The next time the Warriors had the ball, Keahi intercepted at the Kamehameha 40 with 7:49 left.
Kamehameha did score for the final time on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Joshua Hiwatashi with 3:38 to go, but Baldwin’s Teva Eldridge recovered the onside kick and Baldwin ran the clock down to 27 seconds before turning it over on downs.
Keahi’s final return for a touchdown wrapped up the Bears’ impressive defensive effort. Kamehameha piled up 306 yards of offense, but much of it came between the 20-yard lines.
“I think something like that always stays on your mind,” Baldwin coach Keneke Pacheco said of the last meeting. “It was good, we established our offense and we got moving, we played good defense. We have been working on finishing – we want to learn how to finish.”
Offensively, for the second week in a row, quarterback Jeremaiah Badillo and recevier Kawela Kaeo-Mata were the keys for the Bears. Kaeo-Mata caught 10 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown – he has 21 catches for 232 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games.
Badillo was 14-for-18 for 202 yards and three touchdowns passing and he ran three times for 56 yards and a touchdown – all of the scores came in the first half.
On the game’s first possession, the Warriors lined up in shotgun formation on fourth-and-7 from their own 47-yard line and quarterback Chase Newton tried a quick kick.
The ball was partially blocked and Keahi caught the 12-yard punt in the middle of the field and returned it 54 yards down the right sideline to the Kamehameha 5. Dusty Flores scored on the next play to make it 7-0.
The Warriors came right back with a 57-yard, eight-play drive that tied the score when Cal Alexander scored on a 3-yard run. The drive was helped by a 15-yard personal-foul penalty on Baldwin at the end of a 16-yard run by Newton, who followed that with a 21-yard run to the Baldwin 16.
Baldwin then scored four second-quarter touchdowns.
The Bears went 80 yards in eight plays following the Warriors’ touchdown to take a 13-7 lead on Badillo’s nifty 45-yard scoring jaunt on an option-read play. Flores sold the fake handoff well, freeing Badillo to sprint down the left sideline.
Two possessions later, Kaeo-Mata caught a Badillo pass in the flat and split the Kamehameha defensive secondary on a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Baldwin scored the next two times it touched the ball. The Bears needed just four plays to score on a 52-yard drive capped by a 26-yard Badillo scoring pass over the middle to Josiah Maglente-Tonu.
Casco intercepted a Newton pass on the ensuing drive and returned it 20 yards to the Warriors’ 43. Badillo hit Atreil Tanaka four plays later on a 24-yard scoring pass with four seconds left in the half.
Kamehameha coach Cody Nakamura returned from a one-game suspension issued by the school for an incident in which he collided with a Maui High player on the sideline Sept. 14.
“It’s good to be back, exciting,” Nakamura said. “I had the itch for a while, so it’s good to be back on the field. It took a while, a couple weeks, and the boys were excited for the return. It’s the same stuff with us, we have the effort, we just have to start playing a little smarter football.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Baldwin …… 7 ….. 27 ….. 3 ….. 7-44
KS Maui ….. 7 ……. 0 ….. 7 ….. 7-21
B-Dusty Flores 5 run (Ricky Casco kick), 9:27.
KSM-Cal Alexander 3 run (Kailoa Akoi kick), 3:21.
B-Jeremiah Badillo 45 run (kick failed), 11:47.
B-Kawela Kaeo-Mata 48 pass from Badillo (Casco kick), 5:02.
B-Josiah Maglente-Tonu 26 pass from Badillo (Casco kick), 0:55.
B-Atreil Tanaka 24 pass from Badillo (Casco kick), 0:04.
B-Casco 21 FG, 10:11.
KSM-Chase Newton 5 run (Akoi kick), 3:47.
KSM-Joshua Hiwatashi 10 pass from Newton (Akoi kick), 3:38.
B-Nohea Keahi 32 interception return (Casco kick), 0:10.
* * *
Junior varsity-Baldwin 35, Kamehameha Maui 7.