Editor's note: An updated version will run later.
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Konawaena senior quarterback Brandon Howes completed 17 of 30 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns to spark a 38-24 victory over Hilo in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation preseason game Friday night at Wong Stadium.
The Vikings, much bigger physically and deeper with more experience, had several big plays, including an 80-yard touchdown run by Tristin Spikes, who also had a 96-yard kickoff TD return. He had a 63-yard touchdown run that was nullified because of penalty.
However, Kona's uptempo, spread offense modeled after the Oregon Ducks had an answer, especially when Howes had a clean pocket and time to throw. When Hilo stacked the box with numbers, the Kamehameha transfer went deep.
Howes fired a 79-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to Luca Vartik, who caught a pass near midfield, fumbled, picked the ball and ran in for Kona's first score. Howes kept burning the Viks with deep ball, completing seven passes of 20 yards or more.
After Spikes' first touchdown, the Vikings played generous hosts and hand gifted the Wildcats a safety on a bad snap when Hilo quarterback Donavan Kelley was tackled in the end zone. Another safety followed on the home team's next possession; the snap sailed into the end zone.
That was part of an unanswered 23-point swing in the third quarter. Howes fired a 6-yard scoring strike to Chase Takaki, Bubba Ellis-Noa followed with a 1-yard TD run, and Takaki scored on a 29-yard reverse when the Wildcats were caught the Viks overloaded the right side of the line.
It was 30-10 at halftime, Kona up and quite comfortable with a nice lead, but not for long. That's because on the first play, Spikes fielded the kickoff, turned into a rocket and raced into the end zone for a 96-yard touchdown.
Then Moku Lapilio added a 43-yard touchdown run and Hilo's defense held Kona scoreless in the third quarter.
But Hilo's lack of a passing game — Kelley went 1 of 18 for 8 yards and four interceptions— eventually produced too many three-and-outs. Hilo had four turnovers; Kona had five giveaways.
In the fourth quarter, Kona added an insurance touchdown when Howes threw his second scoring screen pass to Ellis-Noa, who slipped behind the linebackers and zipped it 26 yard for a touchdown.
The Wildcats are young, after losing 26 seniors to graduation. They return only one starter on offense in wide receiver Takaki, and just three on defense in cornerback Takaki, linebacker Evyn Yamaguchi and defensive linemen Makoa Chapa, who had a productive night with a safety, a pair of sacks, and constant pressure.
Konawaena 7 23 0 8 — 38
Hilo 10 0 14 0 — 24
Hilo — FG 18 Rayce Takayesu, 8:12
Kona — Brandon Howes 79 pass from to Luca Vartik (John Repiogle kick), 6:41
Hilo — Tristin Spikes 80 run (Takayesu kick), 6:24
Kona — Safety, Makoa Chapa tackle of Donavan Kelley, 11:54
Kona — Safety, bad snap into end zone, 9:11
Kona — Howes 6 pass from to Chase Takaki (Repiogle kick), 7:41
Kona — Bubba Ellis-Noa 1 run (PAT failed), 4:55
Kona — Takaki 29 run (PAT failed), 2:42
Hilo — Soikes 96 kickoff return (PAT failed), 11:42
Hilo — Moku Lapilio 43 run (Kelley run), 2:49
Kona — 26 pass from Howes to Ellis-Noa (Cameron Howes run), 8:22