Alfred Failauga has proven time and time again he can hurt you with his legs.
On Friday night at Waipahu’s field, he showed that his arm and hands are pretty deadly, too.
On the Marauders’ first play from scrimmage, the state’s all-time career rushing leader took an option pitch from quarterback Cody Marques, stopped in the backfield, and heaved it about 35 yards upfield to a wide-open Jovan Gooman, who caught it at the 50 and outraced Damien’s secondary for an 80-yard score.
“Alfred’s just an incredible athlete. An incredible player for us,” Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said. “He understands the entire offense. So, we have the capability of moving him anywhere we need to. He’s just a hell of a player. Running the first play, that was kind of, we assumed that’s what they’re going to do, really bite on the run. We ran that option pitch a few times this season already, so we kind of came up with (the wrinkle) this week and we felt good about it. Our gut just felt right. We said, hey, let’s take a gamble.”
Unfortunately for the Marauders, crisp connections were at a premium the rest of the way in a 30-21 Damien victory at Waipahu’s field (although, due to a scheduling quirk, Damien was technically the home team).
Waipahu, the defending Division I state champion, looked to diversify its attack as it fights through some early-season struggles (1-3, 1-1 OIA D-I).
Failauga passing was not totally unprecedented; he was 1-for-1 with a 15-yard touchdown in the state championship game against Hilo as a junior.
With Damien heavily playing for the run on defense, Carvalho put Failauga in receiving situations, too; the senior caught four balls from Marques on the night. Three of them even went for touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Marauders, the two that came the first half were called back due to penalties.
Penalties were really what Waipahu rued on this night. They were assessed close to 200 yards of them for the game. They both hamstrung the Marauders’ drives and aided those of the Monarchs.
“They had a pretty good game plan going into the game. They were trying to stop the run … but ultimately way too much penalties,” Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said. “We had two touchdowns called back. That hurt. Two separate drives, that’s 14 points on the board we could’ve had. That’ll hurt anybody.
“Way too often, we’ve had to overcome first and 15, second and long,” Carvalho said. “And there’s times where we did. The percentage on that, the ratio of actually making it, usually is not. That’s kind of what we dug ourselves into tonight. We gotta get better.”
Waipahu still made it a game. Failauga’s 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown (plus a helmet-popping 2-point conversion run) in the third quarter launched a comeback bid from down 23-7 to within 23-21 early in the fourth.
Waipahu could not convert the tying 2-point conversion after Marques’ 6-yard keeper score, and Damien drove 59 yards for the clinching touchdown (a 10-yarder from Jake Holtz to Jarvis Natividad) with 6:19 to play.
On the ground Friday, he was pedestrian, by his lofty standards — 20 carries for 87 yards, or 4.35 per carry. He came into the night averaging 254 rushing yards on 30-plus carries in three games this season.
For his career, he’s up to 4,768 yards. The march to 5,000 continues in two weeks against Radford.