Castle coach Nelson Maeda called a timeout to tell the officials that the call they made could be a game-changer.
And he was right, but the officials didn’t change what both Maeda and Waianae coach Daniel Matsumoto termed a “bad call” after the Seasiders’ 21-13 win Friday night at Raymond Torii Field.
With the Knights leading 7-0, a short pass by Stephen Lee appeared to fall incomplete. But Waianae’s Mosiah Brame picked the ball off the ground and ran 22 yards into the end zone for what the officials ruled a touchdown.
Both Maeda and Matsumoto thought the ball was a forward pass, but the officials ruled the play to be a lateral, so the ball that Brame picked up was still live and the touchdown counted.
“We looked at the (video) today, and the pass was clearly 2 to 3 yards in front of the quarterback,” Maeda said Saturday afternoon after a practice session.
“I burned a timeout and talked with the white hat (referee) and asked him what his sideline official saw. He told me (the sideline official’s) hand was held back, indicating a lateral. They conferred, but he didn’t overrule him. It was a terrible call, a tough call. I told them that it could be a game-changer. We had the momentum, and that all of a sudden gave them the momentum.”
That play tied the score 7-7 and that’s how the half ended. In the third quarter, Waianae went ahead with an 84-yard drive capped by John Barbieto’s run, and they padded the lead in the fourth quarter when linebacker Justice Jardine recovered a fumble and returned it 3 yards for a touchdown.
Castle drove 60 yards to score on the game’s last play, but it had no effect on the outcome. It would have mattered a lot, perhaps, if the controversial call had been overturned.
“They took the ball and ran it down our throat,” Maeda said, referring to Waianae’s go-ahead drive in the third quarter. “But I was happy to see our kids showed they weren’t going to quit and kept going until the very end.”
Waianae’s defense wore down Castle with seven second-half sacks and eight overall on quarterback Willie Ewaliko, who came in for Lee late in the first half.
“On some of them, Willie held the ball too long,” Maeda said. “But on others, it was just Waianae pinning their ears back and coming at us on the edge or blitzing in the middle or just putting pressure on the outside. A few of them were because of Waianae’s good coverage. It was frustrating.”
Although Lee started the game at quarterback, Ewaliko played more and threw the ball more. Ewaliko, at one point, was 13-for-17 and wound up completing just six more passes in 18 attempts (19-for-35 total) in the last half of the fourth quarter, when Castle was desperately trying to come back and, at times, forcing things.
Ewaliko, Maeda said, is a runner and a scrambler who can pass as well as play other positions on both sides of the ball. Lee, the coach said, is more of a “specialist” quarterback, a passer.
“Stephen has been battling an Achilles strain,” the coach said. “But we have trust in both and we don’t really have a starter/backup situation. We have packages for both.”
Both quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass to Isaiah Lewis against the Seariders.
Defensive back Royce Simeona-Townsend had a fumble recovery that led to Castle’s first touchdown, and middle linebacker Tristan Ilae also recovered a fumble and had a tackle for loss.
Castle defensive lineman Matthew Inamura made a tackle for loss, and defensive back Colby Kruse came up with some big stops.
The Knights (1-4, 1-4 OIA Red) finish the regular season with games at home against Kaiser and McKinley. One more win should put them in the playoffs, but there is a chance they won’t advance if they lose both games.
Matsumoto, the Waianae coach, breathed a sigh of relief after the homecoming win.
“Their front seven played us really tough,” he said. “And for the small numbers they have, they are a really tough team.”