So many highlights, it almost hurts to think about what if.
The Pride of Kalihi, Gov Nation, simply bleeding a wee bit of maroon. Seventh-ranked Farrington can only wonder after a 31-28 loss at No. 6 Mililani that was full of as many fits and stops as it was glorious, clutch plays.
For Randall Okimoto, Farrington’s first loss after two wins in the OIA Red came down to execution under pressure, or the lack thereof.
“For me, the turning point was when we took that big sack,” he said
The Govs had started at their 8-yard line after a Mililani punt. They had some momentum, but then came an illegal block for a personal foul, and then on third-and-22, LB James McLaughlin sacked Bishop Rapoza. The nine-yard loss pushed them back to their own 5-yard line.
After a punt went out of bounds, Mililani took over at the Farrington 30-yard line. The Trojans scored four plays later on a read-option keeper by Dillon Gabriel.
“Maybe we should’ve run the ball,” Okimoto said, lamenting the sack.
That turn of events, giving Mililani a 21-14 lead, was compounded moments later with a Farrington three-and-out. That led to a crucial 29-yard field goal by Mililani’s Damien Santiago. that opened the lead to 10, and the Govs never got closer than a three-point deficit the rest of the way.
Giving up not one, but two read-option touchdown runs by Gabriel in the fourth quarter (3 and 27 yards) were also plays that made the difference, Okimoto said.
“I wish our guys would be able to play like how they are at practice. When adversity hits, technique goes out the window on that quarterback keeper,” he said. “The same thing on offense. We need to put it all together, offense and defense, at the same time.”
When the defense shined, it was brilliant. Farrington’s secondary came up with three picks, including a 60-yard return to paydirt by Isaiah Taumua.
Rapoza had a scintillating fourth quarter through the air. After alternating at QB with Justin Uahinui in the first half, he got most of the snaps after halftime and finished 15-for-26 with 185 yards and three TDs. His main target, Kingston Moses-Sanchez, finished with nine grabs for 85 yards. Even after Moses-Sanchez suffered an injury and was carried off the field late in the game, Rapoza was in tune with his other playmakers.
The elevated play of Mosi Alaivanu-Afe, who had two TD plays in the second half, along with clutch receptions by two-way players T.J. Tautolo and Iosefo Ah Ching in the final minutes, kept the Governors close and a statewide TV audience wondering if a miracle finish was coming. But it wasn’t to be.
Struggles in the kicking game — two missed PATs and punts of 25 and 21 yards in the late going — may have been partially due to fatigue. The Govs don’t have a full-time kicking specialist this season.
So close, yet so far.