Labanon scored on a rollout from 5 yards out to give Damien a 7-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter. That capped a nine-play, 52-yard drive.
The Wolfpack racked up good yardage, but it was mostly between the 20s against a resilient Damien pass rush that clamped down until midway through the second quarter.
Ferreira guided the ‘Pack on a seven-play, 60-yard hurry-up drive. His fourth-down lob to Tsubasa Brennan for a 6-yard TD play tied the game at 7 with 6:27 left in the first half.
After another Damien punt, the Wolfpack march right downfield, covering 72 yards in eight plays, aided by a roughing-the-passer call. Ferreira found Sean Kinel alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 17-yard TD strike, giving Pac-Five a 14-7 lead with 3:13 left in the first half.
Damien drove 65 yards in eight plays, overcoming a sack and a holding penalty. Labanon’s lob to the end zone was pulled down by Ian Lundberg for a 17-yard TD with 4 seconds left in the half.
By intermission, the ‘Pack had three rushing attempts — two were actually sacks. Ferreira was 17-for-38 for 217 yards and two TDs with no picks.
Damien had a much more balanced attack: 80 rushing yards and 77 passing yards.
Dutch Claybaugh scores on a 7-yard run, but the PAT kick is wide left. DMS 20, PAC 14, 10:51.
The Wolfpack got a break on the ensuing series. A 28-yard field-goal try by Riley Asuncion was wide left, but a running-into-the-kicker penalty moved the ball to the 6-yard line. Brennan, who had missed the previous four plays with a leg cramp, hustled back onto the field and caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ferreira, diving into the pylon for the score. Asuncion’s point-after kick gave the ‘Pack a 21-20 lead with 5:17 to go in the third quarter.
The Monarchs then drove 68 yards on the most-penalized series of the night for both teams. Personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the same play pushed them back to a first-and-40 near midfield. But Labasan found King two plays later for a 31-yard bomb in the end zone, and Damien led 26-21 with 2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Damien, using its two-back, veer-style running attack, had two opportunities to add more points, but one drive stalled at the Wolfpack 15-yard line, and the second stopped at the Pac-Five 12.
The ‘Pack then drove deep into Damien territory, where the Monarchs stopped Brennan at the 1-yard line on a fourth-and-goal catch with just over 4 minutes to play.
Two plays later, the Monarchs appeared to fumble on a run up the middle, but Pac-Five’s recovery inside the 10-yard line was ruled void. The replay on the stadium’s jumbo screen appeared to show that the runner was not down before fumbling.
Damien then converted two first downs to seal the win. The first came on a risky fourth-and-1 at their own 17-yard line. The second, on third down, was a 24-yard pass from Labanon to tight end Kana‘i Picanco, and the Monarchs ran out the final 2 minutes.
4:40 p.m. Weather is awesome today. Breezy. Sunny. And Aloha Stadium’s field is already covered by shadows. At last check, ‘Iolani is on its way to clinching the top seed in the ILH Division II playoffs. The Raiders lead St. Francis 37-0 at the half (Eddie Hamada Field). That means ‘Iolani will meet St. Francis again in a week when the ILH D-II playoffs start.
That also means that today’s Damien/Pac-Five matchup will be a precursor to next week’s playoff game between the same teams, which will finish second and third in regular-season play. So why bother playing starters, showing their playbook and all that, right?
Kip Botelho, Pac-Five’s coach, is not going to hold back. He says his team desperately needs a win after four consecutive losses. I believe him. So that means Kainoa Ferreira is taking the field, gimpy foot and all (it got stepped on two weeks ago), and we could have a fun shootout. Damien scored 34 points on Saint Louis last week as Dallas Labanon hooked up with 6-foot-5 Kapi‘ina King again and again. I guess King is the modern, Hawaii high school version of Harold Carmichael. If you don’t know old No. 17, ask longtime Eagles fan about those great years.
I’m just glad I get to see Damien for the first time all season. It’ll be just the second time I’ll see Pac-Five. Here’s to hoping for a 56-49 game.
Game time is 5:30 p.m., followed by No. 1 Punahou and No. 4 Kamehameha. I’ll have a live blog of that game separately from this one.