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Farrington rallies past rejuvenated Moanalua, 37-27

By: Wes Nakama

Farrington rallied for a 37-27 football road victory last night a bet Moanalua, but there still was much spirit and hope to be found on Homecoming night for the host Na Menehune.

At first glance, the Governors (3-1) appeared to enter the OIA game as heavy favorites over Moanalua, which was 0-3 coming off a 45-0 loss to Punahou. But the return of sophomore quarterback Tayden Evan Ka’awa, who had been out since showing concussion-like symptoms in a 21-7 loss to Leilehua on Aug. 18, made a huge difference and Na Menehune actually led 27-21 after Jayce Bareng’s electrifying 65-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

But Ziggy Vea returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to the Moanalua 40, setting up a six-play drive capped by Sitani Mikaele’s 4-yard run, and Jacob Talamoa’s extra point put Farrington ahead for good at 28-27 with 4:10 remaining. Things got worse for Na Menehune on the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, when a reverse play went awry resulting in Vea’s tackle in the end zone for a safety.

Talamoa then dashed 50 yards for a touchdown on the first play after the ensuing free kick, capping a stunning 16-point swing in just 28 seconds of game clock.

Moanalua’s next possession ended in an interception by Jordan Paredes, effectively sealing the victory.

“Like I told our guys, these first three games this season, we struggled — we could barely put a half together, and (now) we put almost a whole game together,” said first-year Na Menehune coach Andrew Manley. “We have to remind these boys, it’s stepping stones. Everything is new to these guys, they’re trying to come together as one, and they’re making huge strides as a team right now.”

Farrington struck first on the first play of the second quarter, with Mikaele’s 3-yard scoring run capping a nine-play, 62-yard drive and Talamoa’s extra point making it 7-0. But Moanalua tied it at 7-7 just four plays later when Ka’awa connected with Bareng on a crossing route and Bareng sprinted to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown.

Na Menehune then took a 10-7 lead when Andy Nguyen boomed a 40-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and then followed with a 22-yarder three minutes before halftime to put Moanalua ahead, 13-7.

But the Govs responded with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive culminating in CJ Moreno’s 25-yard TD pass to Chansen Smith on fourth-and-8 with 1:03 on the clock, and Talamoa’s PAT put Farrington ahead, 14-13, at the break.

A short punt and personal foul penalty by the Governors gave Na Menehune a short field early in the third quarter, and they cashed in two plays later on Ka’awa’s 8-yard scoring pass to Kila Keone, with Nguyen’s extra point making it 20-14.

Then two minutes into the fourth quarter, Talamoa capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run around left end, and he tacked on the PAT to put Farrington ahead, 21-20.

Talamoa finished with 75 yards rushing on just five carries, providing a nice outside threat to complement the tough inside running of Mikaele, who grinded out 129 yards on 28 tough carries.

Ka’awa finished with 12 completions in 21 attempts for 148 yards and two TDs, with the one interception. But more than stats, he appeared to give a boost to the entire Moanalua team.

“They’re a way different team (with him back), he definitely brings a different element to their offense,” Govs coach Daniel Sanchez said. “Traditionally, Farrington-Moanalua is always a close game, never a blowout, so I knew we were going to be in a game. I was just hoping we could outlast them. Toward the fourth quarter, I felt we were wearing them down, and we stuck to what was working and kept pounding away. Sometimes you gotta go old-school.”

Photos: Jonathan Salvador