Saturday, September 10, 2022 | By Nick Abramo
A yawner through one half turned into a fine high school football spectacle after the break, with Roosevelt finally walking away with a 31-24 home victory over Radford on Friday night at Ticky Vasoncellos Stadium.
Trailing 23-0 after two quarters, the Rams turned on the jets and fought back to take a 24-23 edge before the Rough Riders stole it back in the final minutes.
“We kind of had a lack of focus,” Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said. “We told ’em at halftime that the game is not over, that we gotta bring the energy. Apparently some of our guys took it for granted. We cannot afford to play like that. But the boys came through and I’m proud of our captains and our leaders.”
Offering a glimpse of what was to come in the second half, Radford running back Michael Hayslett took a short pass for a long gain all the way to the Rough Riders’ 11, but the ball was stripped away from him by Roosevelt’s Kingston Kekauoha-Contemplo.
Starting in the third quarter, Hayslett was the workhorse in paving the way for four straight touchdowns and that one point, 24-23 lead. Quarterback Kalob Victorino-Avilla threw TD passes of 56 yards to Hayslett and 7 to Roch Schaefer. In addition, Elijah Falaniko scored an 8-yard rushing TD, and it was Victorino-Avilla’s 3-yard TD run that gave Radford the lead with just 2:54 to go.
But Roosevelt did not let it all slip away. A long run by Keanu Bezares and a costly 15-yard Rams penalty set the stage for Silas Kekahuna’s winning 15-yard run around left end on a pitchout from quarterback Kayman Lewis with only 2:15 remaining.
“It’s a good feeling being able to see all the crowd jumping up, see my teammates there who were setting it up for me and making the thing happen,” Kekahuna said. “I gotta thank them.”
Kamuela Kaaihue had a huge two-way night for the Rough Riders (2-1, 1-1 OIA Division I), with six catches for 111 yards and a TD along with a sack among his many tackles on defense.
Meanwhile, Lewis finished with 340 passing yards and three TDs, including five completions to Jayden Montgomery Gaopoa for 174 yards and a TD.
A slow start worked against the Rams (1-3, 0-2).
“That’s kind of been our MO lately,” Radford coach Fred Salanoa said. “One thing we pride ourselves on is we keep fighting to the very end. Tonight, we gave ourselves a chance.”
Added Victorino-Avilla: “(Roosevelt) is pretty good. They’ve got some big guys. We didn’t execute in the beginning. If we had done that, maybe we could have come up with the dub.”
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