Bears Earn First Football Win, Beat Na Alii 28-14
By Rodney S. Yap
Baldwin High School quarterback Taje Akaka-Foster ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, leading the Bears to their first Maui Interscholastic League victory of the 2014 season Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
The Bears had their hands full against King Kekaulike, breaking open a 7-7 tie with 21 unanswered points, including 14 in the third quarter, en route to a 28-14 triumph before a crowd of about 1,200.
Baldwin (1-2) avoided its first 0-3 start since 1998 when it finished fourth at 5-5 in the MIL and 5-6 overall. King Kekaulike fell to 1-2 in the MIL and 1-3 overall.
The Bears scored more points Friday than it did in their two previous games combined (24). Akaka-Foster sparked Baldwin’s offense with a handful of big plays and the Bears’ defense contained King Kekaulike’s primary scoring threat — Kawika Akahi — in a very physical game marred by 15 combined penalties and nearly a dozen injury timeouts.
Akaka-Foster put Baldwin ahead 6-0 with a a 10-yard run less than two minutes into the game. His touchdown was set-up by a 53-yard, play-action pass, on third-and-long to 5-foot, 5-inch, 115-pound slotback Ethan Oliveros. Keli’i Kaiama’s point-after kick made it 7-0 with 8 minutes, 10 seconds to showing on the game clock.
King Kekaulike kept it close early, eventually scoring from 1-yard out on fourth down. When Akahi, the gunslinger in Kekaulike’s pistol offense, ran it in and Corry Brown’s extra-point kick tied it at 7-7 with 10:18 to play in the second quarter.
Baldwin’s defense contributed to King Kekaulike’s scoring drive with three 15-yard penalties, including a roughing-the-passer violation. Kekaulike was also guilty of a holding penalty earlier in the drive that nullified a would-be touchdown run by La’akea Day.
Baldwin pulled ahead 14-7 right before halftime when Akaka-Foster found Kamoana Kalanikau wide open for a 22-yard touchdown catch. The score was set up by a 27-yard option run by Akaka-Foster, who alertly followed the lead block of Chaz Sa’u, and King Kekaulike was whistled for pass interference one play later.
The Bears took some of the wind out of King Kekaulike’s sails at the start of the second half by driving the ball 67 yards in seven plays on their opening possession. Akaka-Foster fooled everyone when he optioned to keep the pigskin after the defense thought he handed it off. The misdirection play was good for a 13-yard touchdown at the 9:59 mark of the third quarter.
Baldwin built a 28-7 lead when it regained possession after Tokanang Tokanang recovering a King Kekaulike fumble on the ensuing possession. The Bears executed a fake-punt pass on 4th-and-10 to extend their final scoring drive.
The touchdown came with 5:56 to play in the third period when running back/linebacker Kawena Alo-Kaonohi threw a 13-yard pass to wideout Dane Elf. Akaka-Foster was on the sidelines with cramps and being attended to by team trainers at the time.
King Kekaulike’s trainers were also busy, mostly for Akahi who miraculously kept making plays for Na Alii until midway through the fourth quarter when he was forced to leave after getting hit hard in the backfield. He gave way to Jesse Chavez and briefly to Josh Ogata, who scored King Kekaulike’s final touchdown on a 3-yard burst up the middle following a Baldwin fumble.
Baldwin, which committed 7 penalties for 79 yards in the first half, had a 67-yard touchdown run by Keenan Lewis nullified because of a block behind the back on their next offensive series.
The Bears’ defense, which held Akahi to 98 yards rushing, stepped up and killed a King Kekaulike scoring drive early in the fourth quarter when defensive back Jac Keoni Yoruw intercepted the Upcountry signal-caller at the 4-yard line.
The MIL first-round schedule ends next weekend when Kamehameha Maui hosts Baldwin on Friday, Sept. 19, and Maui High travels to King Kekaulike on Saturday, Sept. 20. Both games start at 7 p.m.
Friday’s MIL Scoring Summary
At War Memorial Stadium
BEARS 28, NA ALII 14
King Kekaulike …..0…..7…..0……7—14
BH—Tage Akaka-Foster 10 run (Kelii Kaiama kick), 8:10
KK—Kawika Akahi 1 run (Corry Brown kick), 10:18
BH—Kamoana Kalanikau 22 pass from Akaka-Foster (Kaimana kick), 4:35
BH—Akaka-Foster 13 run (Kaimana kick), 9:59
BH—Dane Elf 13 pass from Kawena Alo-Kaonohi (Kaimana kick), 5:56
KK—Joshua Ogata 3 run (Brown kick), 6:05
* All individual statistics complied by Rob Collias of The Maui News.