After starting the season 0-3, the Kaiser Cougars have bounced back to win four of their last five games to finish in third place in the OIA Red following a 22-9 win over Leilehua on Friday night at Kaiser Stadium.
The first-ever meeting between the two schools in Hawaii Kai saw the Mules (3-5, 3-4) race out to a 9-0 lead before quarterback Kona Andres left the game in the second quarter. Kaiser (4-4, 4-3) took advantage scoring 22 unanswered points and intercepting Anthony Ugalino four times to pull out the win.
Jensen McDaniel, the state’s leading rusher, was held to 39 yards on 25 carries but got help from Parker Higgins, who rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Higgins bowled over about four defenders on a 13-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to put Kaiser on the board. Both teams recorded a safety in the game as Chance Kalaugher sacked Ugalino in the end zone in the third quarter to tie it 9-all.
Kaiser took the lead on a broken play when QB Nic Tom heaved a ball down the middle of the field that fell into the hands of Keoua Mahiko, who completed the 47-yard TD pass.
Leilehua had a 91-yard punt return for a TD by Jaden Gilliland called back by a holding penalty and also had first-and-goal at the Cougars 2, but failed to score when Keoni Pangan blocked a field-goal attempt.
Ty Keough caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Andres for the first score of the game and finished with seven catches for 114 yards.
Emmett Garcia added a 2-yard touchdown run and Mahiko intercepted two passes, including one late in the game to clinch the win.
Kaiser, as the Red No. 3 seed, will host Campbell in the first round of the OIA playoffs next week while Leilehua will host Moanalua at High Yoshida Stadium.
at Kaiser Stadium
Leilehua (3-5, 3-4) 9 0 0 0 — 9
Kaiser (4-4, 4-3) 0 7 8 7 — 22
Lei—Ty Keough 29 pass from Kona Andres (Connor Murakami kick)
Lei—Safety, ball snapped out of end zone
Kais—Parker Higgins 13 run (Andrew Kaufusi kick)
Kais—Safety, Chance Kalaugher tackled Anthony Ugalino in end zone
Kais—Keoua Mahiko 47 pass from Nic Tom (kick failed)
Kais—Emmett Garcia 2 run (Kaufusi kick)
RUSHING—Leilehua: Zach Kamalani 5-22, Hoaka Costorio Carvalho 11-19, Ugalino 11-8, Andres 1-(minus 7), team 1-(minus 11). Kaiser: Higgins 7-62, Nic Tom 15-56, Jensen McDaniel 25-39, Garcia 1-2, team 3-(minus 18).
PASSING—Leilehua: Ugalino 5-19-4-80, Andres 6-15-0-56, Jaden Gilliland 0-1-0-0. Kaiser: Tom 8-17-0-103.
RECEIVING—Leilehua: Keough 7-114, Gavin Belaski 1-12, Ugalino 1-6, Carvalho 1-4, Kamalani 1-0. Kaiser: McDaniel 4-38, Mahiko 1-47, Higgins 1-9, Jalen Pinks 1-8, Kamalu Simeona 1-1.
Junior varsity — Leilehua 30, Kaiser 14