By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
William “Spike” Boyd ran for two touchdowns, Donavan Kelley turned a bad snap into another score and Hilo’s ferocious defense dominated as the Vikings defeated stubborn Keaau 24-6 on Friday night.
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football game was played before about 500 fans at Wong Stadium.
Hilo, under new coach Dave Baldwin, improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the BIIF D-I standings. The host Cougars, under coach Michael Nonies, celebrated homecoming Friday night with a solid effort but not good enough to come out with a win. They dropped to 0-6 and 0-4, respectively.
Boyd, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior running back, came up big on short runs when Hilo needed a boost against the gutsy Cougars. He scored on runs of one and eight yards to fuel the Vikings’ offense.
In the second quarter, Boyd bulled his way in from eight yards out with 8:21 left to give the Vikings a lead they would never relinquish. Keola Miller, who had an outstanding night kicking the football, then added the extra-point boot to make it 7-0.
But Keaau fought back late in the period behind starting quarterback Johnny Vance. He led the Cougars on 30-yard scoring drive following a Hilo fumble on a Keaau punt that bounced deep into Viking territory. Vance rifled a 12-yard TD pass to receiver Matthew Shimabukuro in the end zone to slice the Hilo cushion to 7-6 at the 1:39 mark. But Vance’s pass attempt for a two-point conversion failed and the Vikings carried a 7-6 lead into the intermission of the defensive slugfest.
The first half wasn’t pretty offensively. The Vikings’ defense — led all evening by Sione Holika, T’shaquille Pe’a, Kwaylen Longakit, Isi Holani and Chance Agpoon — shut down Keaau’s attack, limiting the hosts to 12 yards in the air and minus -37 on the ground. But the Cougars’ fired-up defense also held its own and harassed highly regarded Hilo QB Drew Kell into a tough opening half. Kell was only 5 for 16 passing for 105 yards and didn’t throw a TD.
Still, the game’s final outcome remained in doubt, even after the Vikings built a 14-6 lead in the third quarter on Boyd’s 1-yard TD run at the 4:53 mark and Miller’s extra-point kick. Hilo held Keaau scoreless in the period.
But the Vikings struck again midway through the third quarter. Kell led a 65-yard drive to the Cougar 13-yard line, setting up Miller’s 22-yard field goal with 7:41 left to make it 17-6.
Hilo then got the ball back on downs after stopping the dangerous Cougars with 4:55 remaining in the hard-fought contest. Kell fired a 41-yard pass to sophomore running back Tristan Spikes, who carried the ball to the Keaau 11-yard line. Then after three straight running plays that the hosts contained within the five-yard line, Miller came on to attempt another 22-yard field goal.
But on the snap, the football sailed high and the quick-footed Kelley, who was the holder, leaped and grabbed it, then spun to his left and outsprinted two hustling Cougar defenders to the end zone for Hilo’s third TD of the night. Miller’s kick made it 24-6.
Keaau had one more chance to challenge the Vikings’ defense. But on first down with 1:11 left, Cougar QB Jaren Qulhano-Makaweo’s pass was intercepted by Hilo’s Aven Kualii and the Vikings then ran out the clock for the hard-earned victory.
The Vikings dominated the game statistics, but penalities stung Hilo all evening long. They were flagged 14 times for 115 yards, including one penalty for eight yards. But Keaau was also hurt by penalties as the Cougars were tagged 11 times for 74 yards.
The Vikings finished with 99 yards rushing and 238 passing for 337 total yards. Keaau finished with minus-18 rushing and 17 passing for minus-1 yard in total offense.
Kell completed 14 of 25 passes for the 238 yards, without a TD toss. But his most dangerous target, senior Jacob Genegabus, had a productive outing, grabbing four passes for 99 yards and setting up Boyd’s third-quarter TD. The crafty Kelley added three catches for 35 yards to go along with his impressive five-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to put the contest away.
Vance, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, started the game at QB, replacing starter Keha Wong and backup Qulhano-Makaweo. Wong was held out due to Nonies’ orders and Qulhano-Makaweo sat out the first half for missing practice time. But Vance did a rock solid job in the pinch and completed 1 of 3 passes for 12 yards in the first half, including the TD toss to Shimabukuro.
Qulhano-Makaweo took over at QB in the second half and went the rest of the way while Vance returned to his running back spot. Qulhano-Makaweo only threw one pass in the half, hitting Shimabukuro on an 11-yard play.
Hilo also turned the ball over twice during the contest while Keaau had one turnover.
In their first league meeting, Hilo fought past Keaau 28-25.
In junior-varsity play, Hilo defeated Keaau 34-12.
At Wong Stadium
Hilo 0 7 7 10 — 24
Keaau 0 6 0 0 — 6
HILO — William Boyd 8 run (Keola Miller kick), 8:21
KEAAU — Johnny Vance 12 pass to Matthew Shimabukuro (2-point pass failed), 1:39
HILO — Boyd 1 run (Miller kick), 4:53
HILO — Miller 22 yard field goal, 7:41
HILO — Donavan Kelley 5 run (Miller kick), 1:32