The ‘Iolani defensive tackle and the Damien guard won’t bang heads on every play, as Marc Ma flip-flops the side he is playing on, but they will certainly bang heads enough. Daniel Eli, a senior, enjoys a weight advantage at 5-foot-7, 270 pounds but Ma (6-2, 214) holds a decided reach advantage. All scoring is 10-point must, and completely subjective.
The first time the two engage, Eli gets help from Paul Galang. It doesn’t become a theme, though, as Eli gets two shots at Ma and holds him up just enough on the first and drives him back on the second. He is going to have to stay on Ma through the whistle, though, as Ma ranges to the sideline to assist on a tackle on the first one. But Eli has done his job.
The combatants only engage twice on the drive, but Ma beats Eli both times. The Monarchs seem to be aware of Ma’s range, and they are running plays outside of it.
Tough one to call, as Damien went three-and-out, but the one time Ma and Eli engaged Eli had the defender controlled but Ma used his height to bat down a pass from quarterback Syles Choy. Ma abused Damien’s other guard, Alii Arecchi, on the other two plays, making a tackle on a running play and getting a good hit on Choy on the other.
Ma seems to be settling in over Eli on the right, and loses the first battle when Eli gets his hands under Ma’s pads. Ma drops back into coverage on the second play and the players bang heads on the third but the quick-hitter goes away from Ma so no advantage.
Damien finally decides to run right at ‘Iolani’s tackles and it works. Eli gets under Ma and drives him back on the first play, giving him a friendly slap on the helmet after the play. Eli drives him back again on the second play, getting his shoulder into Ma and throwing him off balance. Ma gets swallowed up in the pile on Damien’s next play, a touchdown. I usually reserve 10-8 rounds for pancakes or sacks, but that is rare with these interior guys.
One of the interesting things about this is there are no plays off. Damien gets one play before the half and runs it right at Ma, who tackles the running back behind the line. Only one play, but Ma won it.
Ma starts the second half by beating Eli twice, making a tackle on the first play. The Monarch rallies, bullying Ma from the middle of the field to the hash marks on a running play. Ma lines up against Charleston Cazimero the three plays after that, beating him twice pretty handily. Ma returns to Eli’s side on the next play and runs past Eli like he is standing still, pressuring Choy into throwing before he wanted to and forcing an interception.
Damien goes back to the ground game, and it plays into Eli’s hands. The Monarch gets off the ball first and keeps his helmet under his taller foe’s to win the battle. Eli doesn’t have a decided advantage on the running plays between the tackles, but he does have an advantage.
Ma looks fresher in this late stage of the game, getting penetration and ending the drive with a hurry against Eli.
Eli handles Ma on a quick pass to start the drive but the Raider goes for the knockout on the next snap. He bellies up to his blocker and executes a perfect spin move to leave Eli standing still and makes a beeline for Choy. Ma hits Choy before he knows what to do and collects a sack. Damien wisely doubles Ma on the next play, but the damage is done.
“That was the first time I used that all season,” Ma said. “I used it in practice but I thought it might be a good time to try it.”
And we go to the judge…
Ma’s sack in the last round is huge, but it turned out to be unnecessary as Ma had built up just enough of a lead and wins 95-92. Eli had the upper hand early, but Ma took four of the final five rounds when Damien was forced to throw the ball and the defender could pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. The spin move was a nice punctuation mark on the battle.