For the first time ever, Hawaii’s career record holder in receiving played against the state’s all-time leading rusher in high school in a Division I college game.
Vavae Malepeai‘s USC Trojans got the best of Kanawai Noa‘s California Golden Bears, 30-20, on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. However, it was the second consecutive strong outing for Noa, a redshirt sophomore, who is making his presence felt as a starter early in 2017.
The 2015 Punahou alumnus, who totaled 3,510 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns in his three-year career with the Buffanblu, has led the Golden Bears in receptions and yards in each of their last two games.
Noa followed up a six-catch, 81-yard performance against Ole Miss with another six receptions and 110 yards against the Trojans, marking his first 100-yard receiving game as a Bear. He also had a career-long 38-yard reception.
After posting 10 catches and 110 yards in his first two seasons (he earned a redshirt after playing in only three games last year), the 6-foot, 185-pound receiver is second on the team with 17 receptions and 247 yards in four games.
Noa was named today to the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award watch list.
“I’m very thankful and humbled,” Noa told reporters on Monday. “It’s just another motivation for me to just keep striving and trying to be a better me in all aspects of my game.”
USC’s Malepeai, a redshirt freshman, had four carries for 17 yards against the Golden Bears.
Malepeai, who broke Joe Igber‘s career rushing record in his final game with the Trojans in 2015, rushed for 4,549 yards in 37 games at Mililani and also holds the state record with 71 rushing touchdowns.
Up next for Cal is a game Saturday at Oregon, which has five players on its roster from Hawaii, including linebacker Kaulana Apelu (Kamehameha ’15), who had four tackles and one tackle for loss on Saturday against Arizona State.
Here’s Noa addressing reporters after today’s practice, courtesy of CalBears.com.