They were down and out, the ‘Iolani Raiders, and Tai-John Mizutani brought them back on Friday night before they fell to Lahainaluna 35-27 in the state Division II semifinals at Wailuku’s War Memorial Stadium.
The senior, who is the school’s all-time passing leader, led the Raiders to 17 second-half points after they fell behind 35-10 in the first 24 minutes. The comeback came up short, thanks to two Lahainaluna goal-line stands.
Mizutani’s running ability made the comeback possible. He didn’t try to leave the pocket in the first half, but once he did after halftime, it caused big problems for the Lunas. It opened up the passing game. Mizutani finished with a career-high 130 rushing yards and 290 through the air for a big-time combined 420 yards. He also completed 26 of 47 passes with one passing TD and two rushing TDs.
On those goal-line stands, Mizutani was dropped at the 2- and 3-yard lines on fourth-down plays. Add in those 5 more yards and it could easily have been the Raiders (4-6) moving on instead of Lahainaluna (10-1).
The senior quarterback talked about his team after the loss.
“I’m extremely proud of my teammates, and you look at this squad, it’s a bunch of underclassmen and they played a great game.”
In 10 games this year, Mizutani went 246-for-411 with 26 TD passes and 12 interceptions for 3,215 yards.
He also moved into fourth place all-time in passing yards in Hawaii, moving ahead of Mililani’s McKenzie Milton.
In his 31-game career, Mizutai went 660-for-1,135 (58 percent) for 7,592 yards with 55 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Only Saint Louis’ Tua Tagovailoa and Timmy Chang and Leilehua’s Andrew Manley have thrown for more yardage.