By: Wes Nakama
Feeding off the energy from a near-capacity Homecoming crowd of about 2,500 at Skippa Diaz Stadium, Farrington turned things up a notch and ran past visiting Leilehua, 40-9, Friday night in a key OIA Division I “A” showdown.
State rushing leader Sitani Mikaele rambled for 265 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries as the Governors improved to 5-2 overall and 4-2 league play. The Mules fell to 4-4 and 3-2.
After Leilehua closed the score to 12-7 on Camren Flemister’s 6-yard run followed by Carter McMillen’s extra point, Farrington went three-and-out on the ensuing possession but got the ball back when Zion Vea intercepted a pass just as Leilehua was knocking on the red zone door.
Govs quarterback MJ Moreno soon connected with receiver Chansen Smith on back-to-back 26-yard pass plays, setting up Mikaele’s 3-yard scoring run. Jacob Talamoa ran in the two-point conversion to give Farrington a 20-7 lead with 1:14 remaining before halftime.
Talamoa later scored on a 10-yard run to push the lead to 26-7 midway through the third quarter, but a Governors punt snap that sailed into and out of the end zone resulted in a safety to close it to 26-9. Leilehua took the free kick and eventually advanced to the Farrington 4-yard line, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Mikaele then highlighted a six-play, 96-yard drive with a 54-yard run and capped it by darting 34 yards to paydirt to give the Govs a commanding 32-9 lead with seven minutes left in the game. An intentional grounding call in the end zone resulted in a safety to make it 34-9 with 3:20 remaining, effectively sealing the victory.
“It feels amazing, with this loving community we have, it’s a special night for everyone,” said Mikaele, a surprisingly fast and shifty 5-foot-10, 238-pound senior who now has 1,004 yards in seven games (143.4 ypg). “I just want to thank my O-line, none of this would be possible without them. But this is only the beginning for us, we still have a lot of work to do.”
Mikaele got untracked early, bursting for 47 yards to set up Farrington’s first score, a 45-yard pass play from Noah Spencer to Talamoa four minutes into the game. The PAT attempt failed, but the Govs made it 12-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter when Kilinahe Aki scooped up a fumble and ran it in from 18 yards out.
That was the Mules’ third turnover in the game’s first 10 minutes — two picks and a fumble.
“We were still in the game,” Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu said. “But congratulations to Farrington on that ‘W,’ a lot of credit (to them), they did a great job, they ran the ball well. (Mikaele) can run, most definitely. But give a lot of credit to their O-line, too, they opened up some holes and their backs do their job, they block hard.”
Defensively, the Governors held a dangerous Mules offense to 257 total yards and only that one red zone opportunity in the second half. They also came up with six turnovers — four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“The kids definitely had extra energy with Homecoming, and our defense did a helluva job, they gave us so many opportunities,” Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez said. “It was huge momentum for us.”
Sanchez said the Govs hope to carry that momentum into the playoffs later this month.
“I think bringing back the Farrington tradition — we’re learning how to win again the right way,” Sanchez said. “I think that’s huge for the program, the school and the community. So hopefully we can keep it going.”
MAHALO TO THESE SPONSORS FOR PROUDLY SUPPORTING HAWAI’I HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS & HELPING TO PROVIDE US WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONTINUE TO COVER ATHLETES AND SCHOOLS HERE IN THE 808.
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