After Waialua improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1993, Bulldogs head coach Lincoln Barit was understandably a bit emotional.
Barit’s team overcame a 12-point deficit against Pearl City on Saturday to take a 14-12 lead before the game was suspended due to lightning early in the fourth quarter. When play resumed on Monday, the Bulldogs extended the lead only to have Pearl City charge back to jump ahead 23-20 with 4:36 left.
Waialua quarterback Royce Tashiro then led the Bulldogs on a nine-play scoring drive and gave the Bulldogs the lead again with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Aceret with 1:04 remaining.
Keaka Cleveland sealed the win with his second interception of a wild quarter that began with a blocked field goal return on Saturday and ended Monday evening with Waialua holding on for a 27-23 victory.
Tashiro and Aceret, both seniors, combined for two touchdowns in the weather-delayed game to help Waialua improve to 2-0 in the OIA Division II race and earn its first win over Pearl City since 2006.
“This is a big win. The years before we had a hard time with Pearl City, always got banged up, and this year it feels so good to come out on top,” Tashiro said after Waialua snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with the Chargers.
“Pearl City’s a tough team and we just had to compete with them. We know what we can do, this year we have a lot of seniors that can make stuff happen so were going to rely on that and we’re going to keep driving.”
Tashiro extended the decisive drive with a 14-yard scramble on fourth-and-12 from the Bulldogs 46. After Waialua picked up another first down, a roughing the passer call against Pearl City moved the ball to the Chargers’ 14. A personal foul on Waialua moved the ball back to the 25, but on the next play Tashiro found Aceret running alone on the right side for the go-ahead touchdown.
“That pass is a safety read,” Tashiro said. “I saw him fly over on the post, so the backside corner was wide open.”
After the game, Barit said Tashiro had been playing on a sprained ankle and had a fever on Sunday. But the senior still attended the team’s walk-through and came through on Monday.
“He’s hurting, he has a sprained ankle, but I asked him, ‘you ready?,” Barit said. “And he always said ‘Coach, I’m ready.’ ”
Waialua won’t have much time to savor the win. The altered schedule gives the Bulldogs a short week of preparation before facing Roosevelt (1-2, 0-2) on Friday at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium. Pearl City (1-1) has a bye this week.
“We never did play on Monday like this now we have a game on Friday with Roosevelt. It’s going to be interesting,” Barit said.