Sometimes, that’s just the way the ball bounces.
Campbell earned the West’s second seed in the OIA playoffs with a tight 18-14 win at home over Kapolei on Friday night, the kind of game in which every play matters. And in the regular-season finale, no plays meant more to Campbell than fumble recoveries.
The Sabers got their first break early after stuffing Kapolei on fourth and goal from the 1. Quarterback Isaac Hurd moved Campbell out of trouble to the 20-yard line when a bad snap from the shotgun left the ball rolling erratically around in the end zone. Kapolei defender Alika Sene-Bailey alertly corralled the carom — the senior’s second fumble recovery — and the referee signaled touchdown. Only it wasn’t. Officials put the ball on the 1-yard line, where the Sabers’ defense stopped the Hurricanes on three plays and watched Kapolei kicker Arielle Stoyanow miss a 22-yard field goal.
OIA Red West standings
Sene-Bailey’s first fumble recovery came when Campbell muffed a punt; it put the Hurricanes inside the Sabers 10. Kapolei drove to the 1 before Campbell made its stand.
After the missed field goal, Kapolei scored on its next possession thanks to a 70-yard run by Triston Pebria and the 6-yard closer by Aizon Kahana. That put the Sabers in a hole that Hurd dug them out of, but it would not have been if not for an alert play by Jayce Bantolina. Hurd hit receiver Kona Reiny-Aloy from 25 yards out, but Reiny-Aloy got smacked short of the end zone and lost the ball. Once again, the orb bounced Campbell’s way, as Bantolina beat Kapolei’s Tristan Centeio to the treasure and reeled it in right in front of him. If he doesn’t get there, Kapolei gets the ball and Campbell is likely looking at a two-score deficit because Kapolei responded with a nice drive for another touchdown to make the score 14-6.
Campbell pulled to within a field goal of Kapolei thanks to another fumble at the Hurricanes 19-yard line that Campbell junior linebacker Isaiah Gibson recovered. Hurd needed only four plays to turn the turnover into a touchdown.
Campbell was plagued with bad snaps and the dropsies all over the place, fumbling the ball four times but losing only one, when running back Austin May coughed one up and couldn’t get it back from Kapolei’s Micah Paris. Hurd saved the Sabers three other times by reeling in errant snaps before they could become fumbles.
In all, the Sabers fumbled six times and lost half of them. Kapolei fumbled twice and lost one.
Even the winning score was set up by a favorable bounce. Campbell strong safety Solomon Matautia provided the winning margin on an 80-yard punt return with a minute left in the third quarter.
“I just saw the ball rolling around, and when I grabbed it there was a hole,” Matautia said. “I got to the sideline and the blocks were all set up.”