Lanakila Pei delivers spectacular farewell for ‘Iolani

Meki Pei had a monster game but his Raiders came up just short on Friday. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

Lanakila Pei could only watch as his ‘Iolani career ended with Hilo players storming the field at Aloha Stadium to celebrate a stunning finish to Friday’s Division I state championship game.

Prior to a Hilo field goal from 55 yards out bouncing off the crossbar and through the uprights to give the Vikings a 20-17 walk-off victory, it appeared the night’s pivotal moments would belong to Pei in his farewell performance in an ‘Iolani uniform.

Pei, the hub of the Raiders defense, gave ‘Iolani a 17-3 lead with a 94-yard punt return on the final play of the first half. After Hilo rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter, the Vikings were poised for a game-winning score with less than a minute left before Pei stripped the ball loose for a fumble recovered by teammate Joshua Miyazawa.

But Hilo would get the ball back with eight seconds left, just enough time for two plays and for Keanu Keolanui to kick his way into Hawaii prep football lore.

“Proud of my team,” Pei said during the Raiders’ walk to the mauka locker room after the trophy ceremony. “At the end of the day it’s not what we wanted the outcome to be, but we played to the best of our ability and I’m proud of my team. It’s (tough) it had to end that way but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Pei ended the night with 12 tackles, tied with teammate Isaac Ignacio for game-high honors, including a stop for a 3-yard loss to halt a Hilo threat with ‘Iolani protecting a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But the Vikings struck for a 78-yard touchdown pass on their next possession and marched into ‘Iolani territory as the clock dwindled into the final minutes. With Hilo facing fourth-and-2 at the Raiders’ 23, Pei jumped across the line of scrimmage to extend the drive.

“I was very disappointed in myself, especially at a time like that, a minute and a half left and I jump offside. Stuff like that can be game-ending,” Pei said. “I knew I owed it to my team to get the ball back.”

With Hilo positioning itself for a go-ahead score, Pei forced the ball out of Kilohana Haasenritter’s grasp for a game-saving takeaway — at least for the moment.

“His contributions are not only on the field, he’s become a leader and an example for our athletic program,” ‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “Those kind of guys don’t come around very often.

“Any time he’s on the field he’s going make things happen.”

He certainly did just before halftime when he fielded a punt at the ‘Iolani 6, broke to his left and sprinted along the sideline to send the Raiders into the locker room with a two-touchdown lead.

“I knew there was only going to be a little bit of time on the clock from when they punted it and they were running out the clock,” Pei said. “So I told my other punt returner, ‘I think I’m going to take this to the house.’ ”

Ultimately, the Raiders couldn’t quite bring home the program’s first Division I title to add to its eight D-II championships.

“We didn’t play very well offensively, especially in the second half,” Look said after the Raiders were held to 153 yards in total offense and 45 after halftime.

“You have to give (Hilo) a lot of credit. It was a game of two different halves. Our defense was rock solid the whole game, just we offensively put them in bad situations. But they’ve been our backbone the whole season. We just didn’t get enough done on offense to win the game.”

The conclusion gave ‘Iolani’s season a sense of symmetry. The Raiders began the regular-season with a 21-20 loss at Moanalua on Aug. 10 in a game decided on a last-second field goal.

“That’s what athletics is,” Look said of the learning experiences. “Win, lose, we have to learn how to deal with it and hopefully we represented our school well with a lot of class, a lot of pride. I’m proud of them, we had a great year. Obviously, we didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but you cant fault them for lack of effort. They gave everything they had.”


  1. The Truth Shall Set You Free November 29, 2019 8:53 pm

    Hilo dominates the game and wins with an out of this world 55 yd FG with no time remaining and the first story on HPW about the match-up is about a player from the losing team having a “spectacular farewell”? Questionable perspective, bruh. Fan boy action?

  2. Justsaying November 29, 2019 9:14 pm

    I hear your opinion on Hawai’i Prep’s choice for first article after the game. However, Hilo did not “dominate” the game. They did win the game by 3 points. But before that 55 yard field goal bounced up from the crossbar and dropped on the other side, the game was tied. Congrats to the Hilo team.

  3. The Rim November 29, 2019 9:23 pm

    55 yard FG under pressure for the championship and he made it! @Justsaying- that’s how the ball bounced and it was GOOD!

  4. Old man fan November 29, 2019 9:52 pm

    Hey Truth… Hilo won on a great kick with a fortunate bounce. BUT far from dominating when trailing 17-3 for most of the game.

    @Rim so the lucky bounce was dominating to you too huh

  5. The Rim November 29, 2019 10:19 pm

    Did I say it was dominating? Poor loser! Iolani lost the game no matter how you look at it. Hey I’ll even say Iolani dominated the game…….until they lost.

  6. The Truth Shall Set You Free November 29, 2019 10:23 pm

    Hilo had 388 total yards, Iolani 153. Iolani’s avg yard per rush was 1.7. One of Iolani’s TDs was on a special teams 94 yard punt return. Hilo constantly shot themselves in the foot with ill timed penalties that kept Iolani’s offense on the field and they also turned the ball over in the red zone at end of game. Score not really indicative on how dominant Hilo was IMO

  7. To da hale November 29, 2019 10:47 pm

    Maybe hilo should move up to the open (if there is one next year).

  8. The Truth Shall Set You Free November 29, 2019 11:15 pm

    Hilo, Iolani, Leilehua, Moanalua and Damien already better than Kapolei, Waianae and Farrington.

  9. Wainakea November 29, 2019 11:44 pm

    Hilo’s defense was dominant. Hilo’s offense wasn’t. Hilo has been slow to get to pace in the second half of the season. They even trailed 7-6 against Konawaena at the half in the BIIF championship. ‘Iolani was never in control of the game. Hilo kept on shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and a subpar special teams outing which made it seem like ‘Iolani was in control but was really a product of circumstances.

    I never really watch ILH football so I’m not sure how the Raiders usually run it but looking at the match up on paper, I thought ‘Iolani was going to do more short routes with the 6’3″ WR because Hilo secondaries are not tall at all. It puzzled me how they kept going with Hedani and then tried for longer routes with the tall WR but couldn’t pull it off because of slightly off-target throws and drops when they were in the lead. Maybe that wasn’t an option because of Hilo’s defense stepping up, I don’t know. But ‘Iolani couldn’t get anything going in the second-half, and looked nothing like how they looked last week when they dismantled Moanalua.

  10. Wainakea November 30, 2019 12:14 am

    Hilo will enter rebuilding next year. Kaimi Tiogangco will more likely than not get the call as the starting QB as a junior, and I’m guessing will have a run-heavy scheme like 2017 with most of the starting O-line coming back. Konawaena will be better next year as they were really young in every facet of their team, and could pose a lethal threat despite losing Alex Muti to graduation. Hilo loses almost all starters in skill positions to graduation. Last time Hilo was this vulnerable was probably 2015.

  11. Old man fan November 30, 2019 11:43 am

    @Rim… not poor loser. Gave props to Hilo. Good defense. Your comment to @justsaying didn’t relate.

    @Truth Yes Iolani never wins the stat line. Big heart and discipline keeps them in games. Hilo hit the passes they needed and iolani didn’t. Hilo made their field goal and Iolani didn’t.

  12. Kealakehe Next Year November 30, 2019 1:51 pm

    Game was evenly matched but Iolani’s horrendous decision to pass 3 times from their own 7 yard line with 37secs instead of taking 2 knees to end regulation gave rise to the epic 55 yard game winning field goal. Funny that Iolani recognized as one of the top academic institutions in the country yet the Head Coach seemed to have misplaced his thinking cap when the team needed it the most.

  13. Wainakea December 1, 2019 1:32 am

    >>Kealakehe Next Year
    Eh it could have been the same situation for ‘Iolani. One big play and they could have been the ones kicking the FG. I think it was a matter of execution rather than the play call itself. ‘Iolani couldn’t do anything against Hilo defense in the second half and if it went to OT, there’s a good chance they would have lost it in the first OT.

    Good luck to the Waveriders. Elijah’s senior year, and Sheynen having 2 years under his belt really gives that offense a good shot imo.

  14. ONE TRAM December 1, 2019 12:47 pm

    Total agreement with #12, why 3 passes, stop the clock, give Hilo the ball back in good field position, one play by Hilo and they are in Field Goal range. (kick was a miricle) Why not ice the kicker, no way he makes two miracle kicks in a row. Bad time management and playcalling . #13, if your thinking is good and Iolani had no chance in overtime from 25 yards, what makes you think they had a chance from 95 yards away with less than a minute to play, what’s harder? That or Overtime?

  15. Wainakea December 1, 2019 1:30 pm

    >>ONE TRAM

    I didn’t understand why Look didn’t ice the kicker with timeouts left (I’ve seen college coaches not ice kickers either, which I don’t understand either), but what I’m saying is that Iolani couldn’t get the run going whatsoever. They had a total of whopping 35 yards rushing for the entire game compared to 118 by air. Hilo still had a timeout left. If you had to take a knee or try your luck with your non-existent run game twice in your own 10, you risk a safety or even a turnover. While Iolani kids are well disciplined and coached, they still are high school players. While getting the ball down the field with 40 seconds to go did seem unfeasible, I don’t think it was such a bad call either. Had one of the passes completed, they could have hail-mary’d or take a knee then.

  16. Waiankea December 1, 2019 1:35 pm

    >>ONE TRAM

    And then I forgot that they actually did complete a pass. I agree they should have took a knee then.

  17. The Rim December 2, 2019 7:40 am

    ONE TRAM- if you watched this kicker all year long, you would have known he could make it. Miracle is a put down on the kid, he can kick and he’s accurate I say he makes 3of5 tries from the same distance. I don’t think this kid can be iced, he seems to have ice water in his veins.

  18. Raidazz December 2, 2019 4:33 pm

    I agree with one tram. Hilo should never got da ball back. Like talk about risky, trowing da ball from in da endzone 3 plays, what if one holding gets called, bang, game ova, safety, what if get one sack, bang game ova safety and gotta kick off da ball to Hilo, come on. Den afta tree plays, Iolani punt and give dem da ball on one short field. Dumb plays in da end. Should Play for ovatime. And The Rim, bradda, this kicker so good and can’t be iced, bruh he barely make em, he hit da D–MB bar wid a lucky bounce, Dat is one miricle. You talk like he wen clear em with 10 yads to spare, No ack, you sound like his agent? Lol, like you know his psychology, lol

  19. Get A Grip December 2, 2019 6:21 pm

    Hilo didn’t dominate and the game could’ve gone the other way in overtime. It was a good, evenly matched game which was won by a lucky field goal. Congrats on the win, but geez do you guys know how to be humble? Your crowd booed when your player got a penalty for doing “throat slash.” You guys do that on the Big Island and get away with it? Cheering when the Iolani player got hurt, r u serious? Disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior from the Hilo team, and no class fans. Enjoy your win.

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