It was an often masterful performance for Mililani quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
He just didn’t feel like it was moments after No. 3 Mililani pulled away for a 42-21 win over Kapolei on Friday night.
Who felt good? Gangly sophomore defensive end Shane Kady did. The 6-foot-3, 180 pound pass rusher found himself in the middle of a surreal situation as he merely did his job. Mililani had seen its two-touchdown lead slip away as a homecoming crowd at Kapolei spurred their Hurricanes to take a 21-20 lead in the final minutes of the first half. After Junior Tuia rambled home for a 55-yard fumble return, the ship was starting to rock for Mililani.
When Kapolei got the ball back in the final minute of the first half, all the Hurricanes had to do was take a knee, perhaps, and run out the clock with a 21-20 lead. Instead, Lonenoa Faoa, who had a superb first half with 173 passing yards and two TDs, lost control of the ball as he tried to unload it from the end zone. The ball hung in the air, Kady said, for what seemed like an eternity.
“I jumped for it. The ref put his hands up,” said Kady, who scored his first touchdown in a football game since eighth grade.
That TD, he recalled, was in a JPS game. A fumble. This one, just two years later, keeps Mililani in first place in the OIA Red at 5-0 (6-0 overall). His key play spurred the Trojans to a dominant second half. Their 26-21 halftime lead — and the wild, sometimes chaotic first half – turned into a rather vanilla demonstration of Mililani’s season-long excellence on both sides of the ball.
With running back Kalifi Malepeai out of the game after taking a hard shot while catching a pass, sophomore Raysen Motoyama filled in. The 5-4, 155-pound sophomore ran hard, with power and explosiveness, a tough dude to get a clean hit on. He finished with 69 rushing yards on 12 carries, all in the second half, as Mililani took command. The ultra-fast, hurry-up tempo slowed as the lead built from 26-21 to 29-21 to 35-21 and 42-21.
Still, Gabriel wasn’t satisfied even after passing for 376 yards and three TDs. He threw two picks on deep passes that amounted, sort of, into punts, and fumbled on the play that Tuia turned into a go-ahead score.
“I saw a lot of stuff. They played back and we just trust what Coach Rod (York) called,” Gabriel said.