Facing an early 20-0 deficit in the second quarter was not something that St. Francis wanted, but it wasn’t something that it wasn’t ready for.
“It definitely wasn’t part of the game plan,” Saints coach Kip Akana said. “We talked to the kids last week about how we want to meet adversity.”
The Saints (2-2, 1-1 ILH) stormed back to score 24 unanswered points and eventually beat the Wolfpack (2-2, 0-2) 30-27 in a back-and-forth battle.
St. Francis’ rally was sparked by a switch to the wildcat formation on offense, featuring Wembley Mailei at quarterback. Mailei rushed for two touchdowns and converted on three consecutive two-point conversions.
With just 12 pass attempts, the Saints focused heavily on their running game and Tyson Shimabukuro led the charge. The junior had 28 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown. The Saints finished with 295 rushing yards as a team.
“Our strength is the running game and the ability to get short yards,” Akana said.
St. Francis is 2-2 but could have been undefeated at this point. Both of its losses were one possession games. It fell 23-22 to Konawaena and 21-16 to Damien.
With rematches against Damien and Pac-Five to close out the regular season, the Saints are eyeing an ILH D-II title.
“If we just stick together and stick with the game plan, we can overcome deficits,” Akana said. “They jumped out early and the kids are resilient. We have 45 kids on the roster and a bunch of injuries and it’s just a testament to their will and their brotherhood and bond.”