By Wes Nakama
In an exciting defensive struggle interspersed with several big plays, Roosevelt held off visiting Kamehameha-Hawai’i, 19-14, Friday night in First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II Football State Championships opening round action at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Ioane Kamana’o connected with Jahsiah Souza-Armstead on a 78-yard pass play with 3:10 remaining for the go-ahead touchdown as the Rough Riders improved to 9-3 and advanced to the Nov. 18 semifinal vs. Waimea (2-5) at Hanapepe Ballpark.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i, which had taken the lead just 72 seconds prior on Xander Ho’opai’s 4-yard TD run, ends its season at 11-2.
“Our team, we play as a family,” Kamana’o said. “We don’t want the seniors to end the season badly, so we push to be the best that we can for them, and to help the team.”
Roosevelt literally wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with Nainoa Aguiar taking the opening kickoff, finding a seam up the middle and then darting upfield and racing to the end zone for an 89-yard touchdown. Journey DePeralta’s extra point put the Rough Riders up, 7-0, just 15 seconds in.
DePeralta later nailed a 31-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 1:59 left in the first quarter.
That lead held until four minutes into the second half, when Ho’opai ran it in from two yards out to cap an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive, and Lucas Kay-Wong’s PAT closed it to 10-7.
DePeralta’s 34-yard field goal put the Rough Riders ahead, 13-7, with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the momentum shifted quickly and dramatically late in the fourth, when an errant Roosevelt punt snap gave the Warriors first-and-goal at the 4, setting up Ho’opai’s scoring run one play later.
“It did swing the momentum, we were hoping for something like that,” said KS-Hawai’i coach Kealoha Wengler.
But just as quickly, the momentum swung back when Kamana’o connected with Souza-Armstead for the go-ahead score.
“That route was just a simple ‘go’ ball,” Kamana’o said. “It was a busted play because I had to step up in the pocket, but the safety didn’t realize that I had my boy Jahsiah on the go ball, he flew over to the other side. I hit him, and he took it down the field. It was great, I would say it put our morale up to the level we needed to finish out the game.”
On the ensuing possession, the Warriors faced fourth-and-7 from their own 34, and completed a six-yard pass that was spotted just short of the first-down marker.
“That was tough, we hoped we would get a better spot, but they (the officials) had a better view of it,” Wengler said. “Give credit to Roosevelt, they played a fantastic game. This was great competition.”
Rough Riders coach Kui Kaho’oilihala said Kamehameha-Hawai’i presented a big, physical challenge, and Waimea is expected to present another one.
“They’re a tough team, well disciplined, great coaches,” Kaho’oilihala said. “And they’ve been there (to the championship game), right? So hopefully we can go there and play well.”
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