By MATT GERHART
KAILUA-KONA -- Kamehameha was banged up on the offensive line, so it didn’t think it could run.
And with the slippery conditions at Waverider Stadium, neither team could hang on to the ball long enough to make an impact on the ground, anyway.
That made the setting perfect for Kamehameha quarterback Micah Kanehailua and his receivers.
Kanehailua connected with Logan Uyetake for three of his four touchdown passes Saturday night and found Alapaki Iaea for big plays to lift the Warriors to a 27-6 victory against Kealakehe in a turnover-plagued Big Island Interscholastic Federation football game.
“We had decided the only way we could win this game was to go up-tempo and throw the ball,” Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons said.
Considering the rash of fumbles, that was a sound strategy.
It rained the before the game, and then it really picked up in the second quarter. A deluge of turnovers followed. The teams combined to lose 10 second-half fumbles, and Kealakehe (1-3, 1-2 BIIF Division I) gave away eight for the game.
“Ball was like a banana peel,” Kanehailua said. “It was slipping all over the place. I had to loosen my grip to throw the ball. The receivers were telling me I had to put it on them, or it was going up in the air.”
His favorite target was Iaea, who made eight catches for 153 yards for the Warriors (3-2, 2-1 BIIF Division II). He had four receptions of 30 yards or more, including one for 39 yards in the first quarter that helped set up Kamehameha’s first touchdown.
“We have our timing down,” Kanehailua said
That helped the junior bounce back from a tough game against Konawaena two weeks ago to carry the offensive load, and Lyons said his quarterback’s 17-of-27 passing for 236 yards was a matter of better execution.
“It was better, but there’s a lot more I can improve upon,” Kanehailua said. “Sometimes you have to fail to succeed as a team.”
Kamehameha’s defense sacked quarterback Kaimi Wilson six times and didn’t allow a completion in the second half.
Kealakehe, the three-time defending BIIF Division I champion, has fallen in consecutive weeks at home after not having lost a regular-season home game in six seasons.
Louis Garcia ran 30 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to cut Kealakehe’s deficit to 14-6. But after that, the Waveriders played giveaway, coughing up the ball seven times in the second half.
“We have to squeeze the football,” coach Sam Papalii said. “We work on ball security every single day. We have a gauntlet where we rip at you and hit you with our own guys.”
Once such fumble set up Kamehameha in Kealakehe territory late in the third quarter, and Kanehailua quickly took advantage by finding Kamuela Kawamoto for a 29-yard touchdown.
Kealakehe fumbled on its next possession, and after Iaea’s 30-yard reception gave Kamehameha a first-and-goal, Kanehailua found Uyetake from 3 yards out for another Warriors’ score.
Kamehameha wasn’t much better holding on to the ball. It fumbled eight times, losing four.
But with three offensive lineman out for the game and two running backs limited in practice all week, the plan all along was to ride the passing game.
“That’s what I like to hear as a wide receiver,” said Uyetake, who had touchdown receptions of 7 and 31 yards in the first half. “I have to commend Kealakehe. They’re a big, physical team. We knew we were outsized. But we knew we could use other players in the game to beat them.”
Kealakehe quarterback Kaimi Wilson was 5 of 14 for 59 yards, while Akoni Demello gained 92 yards on 12 carries.
Kamehameha 7 7 6 7 –27
Kealakehe 0 0 6 0 –6
Kam – Logan Uyetake 7 pass from Micah Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 2:56
Kam – Uyetake 31 pass from Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 4:33
Keal – Louie Garcia 30 run (run failed), 10:12
Kam – Kamuela Kawamoto 29 pass from Kanehailua (kick blocked), 1:36
Kam – Uyetake 3 pass from Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 10:14