Some day in the distant future when Waipahu players reminisce about this playoff win, they’ll recall the late flurry that got the deed done.
This 13-7 victory over Pearl City on Friday night was by no means easy. The two teams traded mostly defensive blows all night — and it had the feel that it was going to overtime with a 7-all stalemate.
But then things began to change.
It was two defensive plays that got the ball rolling in Waipahu’s favor. First, Jeminae Solumua sacked Pearl City quarterback Isaiah Asinsin for a 15-yard loss to bring up a third and long. On the next play, Asinsin’s pass was all but in the hands of a receiver when Waipahu safety Kobie Russell leaped and took it away for an interception and a 26-yard return.
The ball was at the Pearl City 16, but time was of the essence. Freshman running sensation Alfred Failauga took the ball three straight times to the Pearl City 1, but the clock was running and less than 20 seconds remained.
The Marauders rushed to the line and quarterback Braden Amorozo pitched to AJ Contado, who went around right end untouched for the winning touchdown with 7 seconds on the clock.
Afterward, Waipahu head coach Bryson Carvalho said that if his team failed on that play, he would have called his final timeout and brought in the field-goal unit.
According to both Carvalho and Contado, Amorozo had the triple option available. He could give to Failauga, take it himself or pitch to Contado.
Contado said he felt blessed when he saw that Amorozo did not give the ball to Failauga (156 yards rushing on the night) and that it was being pitched to him.
To further increase his pleasure, Contado saw “nothing” in his way.
“Everybody bit on Alfred,” he said.
The Marauders (8-1) play Waialua (6-2) for the OIA D-II championship next week and then, thanks to Friday’s win, saddle up for the D-II state tournament the following week.
Carvalho was impressed with Pearl City’s tenaciousness, which led to many third and longs for his Marauders.
“That’s really not our team,” he said. “We want to be able to get into those third-and-short situations, and whenever we do, we’re usually successful, and we found ourselves kind of backed up having to pick up long third downs and it made it difficult for us.”
The importance of the victory is not lost on Waipahu’s head man.
“It’s huge for our community,” he said. “I can’t say enough about these kids, man. This group of kids would call practice on the days we were off just to put in extra work. It’s that kind of stuff that pays off.”