Maui High wins in final seconds

Nakamoto’s touchdown gives Sabers victory over Warriors

Maui High School’s Justin Pulido tries to elude Kamehameha Maui’s Tiliti Adams during the second quarter of the Sabers’ 27-23 win over the Warriors on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — Things have changed for the Maui High School football team.

One week after giving up a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter of an overtime loss, the Sabers staged a comeback of their own, getting a 2-yard touchdown run by Naia Nakamoto with five seconds remaining to beat Kamehameha Maui 27-23 on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.

Nakamoto’s score capped a furious final four minutes and sent a raucous Maui High homecoming crowd home happy.

“Awesome, two weeks in a row, man, I’m just drained,” said first-year Maui High coach Rodney Figueroa, whose team was coming off an overtime loss to Lahainaluna, which had trailed 17-3 in the fourth quarter. “I was sick this week and no voice already from yelling out here.”

After two nonleague games in which they didn’t score on offense, followed by two losses to open Maui Interscholastic League play, the Sabers (3-3 overall, 1-1 second round) went 3-1 in September.

Solomone Tongi carries the ball for Maui High in the second quarter. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Kamehameha had defeated Maui High 21-13 on Aug. 18.

“Everybody’s buying into what we are selling out there, buying into the program,” Figueroa said. “Everything is falling into place right now.”

Nakamoto scored two touchdowns — the game-winner capped a last-minute drive that covered 68 yards in six plays.

The Warriors (2-3, 0-1) had taken a 23-20 lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kainoa Sanchez to Tristan Catan with 1:04 to play.

Kainalu Tancayo hit Trent Takara on back-to-back 11-yard passes to start the final drive, then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 25 seconds to go. On the next play, a pass-interference call put the ball on Kamehameha’s 31-yard line.

The Sabers’ Spencer Takitaki defends a second-quarter pass intended for the Warriors’ Kiha Mossman. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

After an incompletion, Tancayo hit Takara for 29 yards to set up Nakamoto’s run.

“I told them we gave one away last week, and this week we needed this game,” Figueroa said. “We needed this game if we want to control our destiny for winning the championship.”

The Sabers fought back from a 10-point deficit in the second half. Nakamoto’s 40-yard scoring run with 1:04 left in the third quarter cut the Warriors’ lead to 17-14.

Maui High went in front 20-17 on Solomone Tongi’s 11-yard run with 3:35 to play, but Kamehameha took the lead back on Catan’s scoring catch on the next drive. Nathan Facuri had an acrobatic 34-yard catch on fourth-and-18 to keep the series alive.

“We have got to make plays when we’re supposed to make them,” said Warriors coach Ulima Afoa. “They’re young guys making young mistakes. In order for the program to get better we’ve got to win a few of those.”

Kamehameha Maui’s Tyerell Baldonaldo-Kaleiopu after catching a touchdown pass. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Warriors led 14-7 at halftime after a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Tyerell Baldonado-Kaleiopu with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.

A 16-yard pass from San-chez to Catan started the scoring in the first quarter.

The Sabers answered on the ensuing possession, going 77 yards in 10 plays, capped by Justin Pulido’s 6-yard run with 9:37 left in the first half.

Michael Singh kicked a 29-yard field goal for Kamehameha in the third quarter.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com


KS Maui 7 7 3 6 — 23

Maui High 0 7 7 13 — 27

First Quarter

KSM–Tristan Catan 16 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (Michael Singh kick), 1:05.

Second Quarter

MH–Justin Pulido 6 run (Kalia Kapisi kick), 9:37.

KSM–Tyerell Baldonado-Kaleiopu 21 pass from Sanchez (Singh kick), 0:17.

Third Quarter

KSM–Singh 29 FG, 4:22.

MH–Naia Nakamoto 40 run (Kapisi kick), 1:04.

Fourth Quarter

MH–Solomone Tongi 11 run (kick failed), 3:35.

KSM–Catan 6 pass from Sanchez (kick failed), 1:06.

MH–Nakamoto 2 run (Kapisi kick), 0:05.

Junior varsity-Kamehameha Maui 39, Maui High 7.

Friday’s Result


Lahainaluna 28 14 3 7 — 52

King Kekaulike 0 0 0 0 — 0

First Quarter

LL–Elijah Ragudo 9 run (Pablo Rico kick), 4:45.

LL–Joshua Tihada 16 run (T.J. Galoia run), 3:52.

LL–Sione Faleta 14 pass from Galoia (Rico kick), 2:55.

LL–Galoia 7 run (kick failed), 0:30.

Second Quarter

LL–Galoia 11 run (Rico kick), 2:24.

LL–Derek Perez 59 interception return (Rico kick), 1:18.

Third Quarter

LL–FG Rico 48, 6:37.

Fourth Quarter

LL–Haaheo Au 41 run (Rico kick), 10:57.


First downs 13 6

Rushes-yards 33-185 31-78

Passing yards 94 26

Total offense 279 104

Return yards 91 29

Comp-Att-Int 5-8-0 2-5-2

Fumbles-lost 3-0 3-3

Penalties-yards 6-47 6-35

Punts-avg 3-26.7 5-28.2


RUSHING–Lahainaluna, Galoia 5-51, Au 5-43, Jesse Dudoit 3-41, Tihada 3-35, Ragudo 2-15, Kamalei Watson 2-8, Zeff Dudoit 1-4, Kahiau Yap 2-2, Mystic Kauhaahaa 2-1, Ken Lee 4-(minus 3), Kamahao Acpal 4-(minus 12); King Kekaulike, Rilee Peters 14-45, Lucas Tamayose 11-29, Shane Ribucan 2-4, Arik Mendoza 1-3, Kauanoe Kaleialoha-Sribura 1-1, team 2-(minus 4).

PASSING–Lahainaluna, Acpal 4-7-0–80, Galoia 1-1-0–14; King Kekaulike, Peters 2-5-2–26.

RECEIVING–Lahainaluna, Jonah Damasco 1-49, Aliksa Pihda 1-15, Faleta 1-14, Kawehi Gillcoat 1-11, Tihada 1-5, King Kekaulike, Mendoza 1-17, Ribucan 1-9.




Overall MIL record in parentheses



Baldwin (3-2) 1 0 1.000 55 6

x-Maui High (3-3) 1 1 .500 44 47



x-Lahainaluna (6-0) 2 0 1.000 76 17

KS Maui (2-3) 0 1 .000 23 27

King Kekaulike (0-6) 0 2 .000 6 107

x-won first-round championship

Friday’s Result

Lahainaluna 52, King Kekaulike 0

Saturday’s Result

Maui High 27, Kamehameha Maui 23

Friday, Oct. 6

Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 7

King Kekaulike at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.