>> Pac-Five’s game-opening series covers 66 yards, but they stall out at the Damien 4-yard line: QB Kainoa Ferreira scrambles for no gain, he throws and incomplete pass to Tsubasa Brennan in the end zone, a 4-yard keeper by Ferreira, and a rushed (against the play clock) incomplete pass by Ferreira to the motion man, Brennan.
Either he lost track of time (inexperience) or the coaches did. It was an interesting first possession. The Wolfpack did two things a little differently from last week: 1) Brennan lined up with the trips-side receivers, and 2) they ran that motion-man lob pass three times last week for completions to Brennan (including a TD), but used that to set up the short run by Ferreira. Pretty crafty, but all for naught.
Damien’s defense showed signs of being unfocused, allowing Pac-Five to get first downs by penalty (roughing the passer and offsides).
>> Big miscommunication by Damien on its first play from scrimmage. Dallas Labanon launches a deep pass for Kapi‘ina King, but he’s not even looking for the ball. Easy pick for Tyler Matsukawa. Six lpays later, Grey Ihu hauls in a tough, but perfectly thrown pass to the left corner for a 17-yard TD. P5 7, DMS 0, 6:20.
>> Michael Lacsina recovers a fumble off a pooch kickoff by the Wolfpack. On the next play, Ferreira passes to Brennan, who is the lone receiver on the right. He hauls it in and breaks free the rest of the way for a 39-yard TD. P5 14, DMS 0, 6:10.
>> Game stoppage with :01 left in the first. Two injuries for Damien already.
>> Damien also has three personal fouls already. Coach Eddie Klaneski can’t be happy right now.
The lights have finally turned on. With the dark clouds, it was getting real gloomy in here for awhile. The teams were literally playing in their own shadows as one patch of lights slowly turned on at a time.
>> Damien gets on the scoreboard on a 2-yard run by Samson Low. A 42-yard pass from Labanon to Kana‘i Picanco was the key play. P5 14, DMS 7, 11:00.
>> Low’s second TD of the game is a 37-yard blast up the gut on third and 2. Tie, DMS 14, P5 14, 5:30.
>> Pac-Five drives 76 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 10-yard run by RB Trevor Yee. They’ve sprinkled in a few runs by Yee, who is quick to the hole and low the ground. Two more 15-yard penalties by Damien — roughing the passer and pass interference — help the Wolfpack. P5 21, DMS 14, 3:54
>> Flawless drive for the Monarchs, who go 62 yards in six plays and score on Labanon’s quick pass to Kaeo Arakaki. The 14-yard TD brings Damien close, but the PAT kick is wide left. P5 21, DMS 20, 1:18.
>> The Monarchs give the ‘Pack a taste of their own medicine. A squib kickoff turns into a fumble recovery by Chase Lundberg at the Pac-Five 44-yard line. Five plays later, Labanon connects with King on an 20-yard alley-oop pass to the right corner for a go-ahead TD. Labanon’s option keeper around right end gives Damien two more points. DMS 28, P5 21, :29.
>> Halftime stats. Damien has 20 carries for 138 yards, led by Low’s 56 yards on five carries (two TDs). Labanon has completed 10 of his 12 pass attempts for 172 yards and two TDs, including nine completions in a row. Very gaudy numbers.
Pac-Five has 39 rushing yards on nine carries, led by Yee’s 52 yards on six carries. Ferreira has been erratic against an “amoeba” look by Damien, a lot of stand-up stances in pre-snap. He is 9-for-24, 128 yards, two TDs, no interceptions. The aversion to turnovers is what’s keeping them in this game, even though they’ve been outgained 310 to 180.
>> The Monarchs call fair catch on a pooch kickoff, then stall at the their 46. The ensuing punt is muffed by Pac-Five, however, and Arakaki recovers at the Pac-Five 12-yard line. Five plays later, Labanon sneaks in for a 1-yard TD. DMS 35, P5 21, 8:25.
>> Brennan is outstanding on the next drive with a 42-yard catch, breaking two tackles. Sean Kinel makes a brilliant diving catch on an 18-yard post throw by Ferreira. This all comes right after some Damien fans whooped it up huge after a big hit by the Monarchs caused Brennan to lose a pass on the first play of the drive. Brennan lines up in the wildcat set and scores on a 1-yard run. DMS 35, P5 28, 1:29.
>> Wolfpack drive to the Damien 17-yard lie, but a sack by Grayson Bueno is a 12-yard loss. Two plays later, Jarin Manuel intercepts a deep post pass intended for Brennan. Damien now driving into the red zone.
>> Fourth down pass on another alley oop to King is broken up in the end zone by Pac-Five CB Tyler Matsukawa. Wolfpack escaped there.
>> Wolfpack come up empty as Ferreira tries a few times to go deep on the post, but the Monarchs have three defenders there each time. Damien ball with 5:36 to go, churning out 4-yard carries by Low and moving the chains.
>> Pac-Five stops Damien on a sneak try by Labasan on fourth and 1. But Ferreira tries to force another pass on the post and is picked off by Picanco.
>> Time out, Pac-Five. Damien has third and 2 at the P5 35-yard line with 3:52 left.
>> First down, Damien. Low picks up 4 yards on third and 2. Damien just milking the clock. Time out, Damien, with 1:56 left and another third-and-2 situation. Low now has 164 yards on 19 carries, easily the best game of his career so far.
>> Low again for a first down, picking up 2 yards. He now has 166 yards on 20 carries with two TDs. Pac-Five has burned its second time out with 1:46 to go.
>> The Monarchs punch it in again. Low’s third TD is an 8-yard burst on the left side. Labasan does the honors and kicks the PAT, his first of the season maybe? DMS 42, P5 28, 1:10.
That’s probably it for the Damien offense aside from some potential kneels later. Low has 177 yards and three TDs on 21 carries. His previous best was 82 yards (14 carries) against ‘Iolani, but he had 81 yards and two TDs on 19 attempts against Saint Louis two weeks ago.
Again, Damien’s offensive balance is a big factor. They’ve run for 278 yards on 49 carries. Labanon has thrown the ball 17 times (12 completions) for 171 yards. That’s not 50-50 balance, but Labanon is in total command in the pocket.
>> Injury time out after the kickoff. There’s 1:02 left to play. An ambulance is on the way, from what I understand. It’s a Damien player injured, can’t see his number. There have been a number of injuries tonight. A Pac-Five player was taken off on the stadium golf cart earlier, but this looks a much more serious. It’s 8:41 p.m. now. I’m guessing the Saint Louis-Kamehameha game won’t start until possibly 9:30 p.m. (after warmups). That game was slated for 8:15, but that’s how it goes in football.
The nature of the sport will always stay the same no matter how much protection is legislated. Technology has only gone so far to protect players from injury. At some point, insurance costs will kill this sport, whether it’s five years or 10 years or 20 years from now. Enjoy it while it lasts.
I hear the siren now.
And so, here we are. It’s elimination-from-football-for-the-rest-of-your-life time for many seniors who are playing today. It’s the playoffs. One less, and you are pau. Brotherhood is for life, but playing careers usually end on the prep football field.
There will be joy and laughter for the survivors. There will be tears and emotional pain for the losers. From the North Shore to Aloha Stadium to Wong Stadium, tonight will be intense.
It’s about 100 minutes from game time for Damien and Pac-Five. Weather is holding up fairly well in spite of Hurricane Ana’s momentum. Bad weather usually favors teams that can run the ball well, and Damien ran well against Pac-Five in last week’s regular-season finale. There’s also wind to consider and it’s blowing pretty strong, maybe 10-15 mph, here at Aloha. That won’t help Pac-Five either.
I’d love to see a 50-49 game, but playoffs and weather being what they are, it could be about low-scoring battle. Last week, it was 26-21 in Damien’s favor.
The winner will play the ‘Iolani-St. Francis winner next weekend. Those two teams are playing this afternoon at Eddie Hamada Field.
Be safe and prepared out there, everyone.