They are two legitimate Division I contenders for the OIA and state championship — two fired-up teams that were ready to show each other who’s better.
Leilehua visited Waipahu on homecoming night and it was an intense first 24 minutes until the Mules walked away with a 50-20 win after scoring 35 third-quarter points (38 straight in all).
With the win, the Mules (6-2, 5-1 OIA Open) stayed right behind first-place Moanalua (6-0, 5-0) in the league standings.
For the Marauders (5-3, 4-1), it was disappointing, but far from a death knell.
The home team took a 13-12 first-half lead, but then a series of misfortunes along with fine heads-up play by Leilehua turned it around in a big way.
Here’s how the visitors did it:
>> On its first second-half possession, quarterback Max Nichols fires a 39-yard touchdown pass to James McGary … 19-13.
>> Two plays later, Mules linebacker Vitale Afoa recovers a Waipahu fumble and returns it 11 yards for a TD … 26-13.
>> A Marauders punt hits a Waipahu blocker in the back, giving Leilehua the ball at the Marauders’ 30. Three plays later, Nichols sneaks in from 1-yard out … 33-13.
>> Waipahu drives to the Leilehua 12 but fumbles and the Mules’ Kahakai Kahoiwai recovers. Leilehua doesn’t move and punts. Waipahu immediately marches to the Mules’ 10, but once again fumbles and the ball is recovered by Leilehua’s Jaeden Chow.
>> The Mules go 89 yards for a score, capped on Nichols’ 24-yard TD pass to Kalei Akagi … 40-13.
>> On Waipahu’s next play, Afoa intercepts a Cody Marques pass and returns it 28 yards for a TD … 47-13.
All of that in one quarter must have driven Marauders coach Bryson Carvalho nuts.
“That third quarter was a disaster,” he said. “The turnovers just killed us. Those 35 points are hard to come back from.”
Akoni Tom-Makue added an 18-yard field goal for the Mules in the fourth quarter.
In yards from scrimmage, Leilehua gained 249 passing and 164 rushing for a total of 413. Waipahu passed for 181 and rushed for 151 for a total of 332.
“It was a high-energy atmosphere, one of the biggest crowds we’ve played in front of all year,” Mules coach Mark Kurisu said. “It might have caught the kids off guard (in the first half). This is a great atmosphere. The easiest way to say it is we told them to stop doing your own thing and do your job. Every victory is huge and this is the biggest one (so far). But it’s just the next game.”
Waipahu gets a crack at Moanalua next Friday at Aloha Stadium, and the Marauders are also hoping to get another shot at Leilehua in the playoffs.
The Mules play Damien (4-3, 4-2 ILH D-I) at home next Saturday.
“Everybody got pumped up for the second half,” Leilehua linebacker Jashawn Wakefield said. “The coaches told us to just play together. Play as ‘we’ and not just yourself.”