By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — It couldn't have come at a better time for Keaau to earn its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation football victory in two years. It was homecoming, which always produces an extra boost of energy. It was also the last home game of the season.
Kiliona Pomroy gave Keaau's 27 seniors on a roster of 37 players a wonderful final memory at home, rushing for 88 yards on 11 carries to spark Keaau over Honokaa 14-6 in a BIIF game on Saturday night at the Cougars Stadium under a constant stream of second-half rain drops.
Last season, Keaau finished 0-7 in the BIIF Division I standings. The Cougars (1-5 overall, 1-5 BIIF) kicked a big monkey off their back because the next two games are a lot tougher. They travel to Kamehameha (4-4, 3-3) on Friday, and then play Hilo (7-1, 6-0) the following week in the BIIF Division I semifinals.
After a scoreless first half, the scoring excitement started two minutes into the third quarter with back-to-back plays. Actually, Keaau's fun times began with the kickoff. Jared Makaweo-Quihano raced straight up the middle for a 75-yard return to Honokaa's 5-yard line.
However, a personal foul penalty on the Cougars pushed the ball back to the 20. Four plays later, George Lucas-Tadeo threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Usti Koga. The two hooked up again because of a low snap on the PAT attempt. Lucas-Tadeo, the holder, fired a two-point pass to Koga.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Cougars attempted to blast a grounder between the Dragons at the 50-yard line. But the ball hit Kamaehu Richards right in the hands and the junior offensive lineman/linebacker did the rest, racing to the end zone for a 50-yard kickoff return. Honokaa's two-point pass attempt failed.
Late in the third quarter, Honokaa kicker Allie Shiraki, a soccer and softball player, lined up for a 20-yard field goal. But the snap was low and holder Nainoa Falk, also the quarterback, scooped up the slippery ball and fired into the end zone. Unfortunately, the Cougars had a monopoly on the good fortune when it came to converting botched PAT attempts into two points.
The ball was dropped and the Cougars maintained an 8-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter, which saw the Dragons suffer their most painful turnover out of their three on the night; Keaau had only one turnover. It was Honokaa's only giveaway that was turned into a touchdown.
Keaau's Isaiah Basque-Chan recovered a fumble at the Honokaa 38 and two plays later Pomroy, a junior running back/linebacker, bulldozed his way for a 34-yard touchdown.
The Cougars rushed for 108 yards on 31 carries. Take away Pomroy's production and those numbers drop to 20 yards on 20 carries. Lucas Tadeo had a 47-yard scramble, but was sacked five times. He finished with 13 yards on seven attempts. (Quarterback sacks count against his rushing total, which drops the total yardage for team rushing.)
Most of Honokaa's sacks were because of the secondary's sticky man coverage. In order, Keaka Swift, Treston De Luz, Austin Jardine, Sione Epenesa and Samiu Olevao all recorded sacks; Justin Hong had Keaau's only sack.
Lucas-Tadeo was 8 of 22 for 148 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Koga had 86 yards on four catches, and Colby Espaniola added 50 yards on three receptions for the Cougars, who finished with 256 yards of offense.
Epenesa, a junior running back/linebacker, returned to the field for the first time since suffering a concussion against Hilo on Sept. 14. He ran for 30 yards on 15 carries against a run-stuffing Cougar defense that held the Dragons to 48 yards on 30 carries. Honokaa had 93 yards of offense.
Falk was 6 of 25 for 45 yards with one interception.
Keaau's Byron Cachola, one of the 27 seniors, and Honokaa's Jardine had interceptions.
The Dragons (0-7, 0-6) next play at Hawaii Prep (6-2, 4-2) on Saturday. Then they travel to face Konawaena (6-2, 5-1) in the BIIF Division II semifinals the following week.
Honokaa 0 0 6 0 — 6
Keaau 0 0 8 6 — 14
Kea — Usti Koga 14 pass from George Lucas-Tadeo (Koga pass from Lucas-Tadeo), 10:09
Hon — Kamaehu Richards 50 kickoff return (kick failed), 10:00
Kea —Kiliona Pomroy 34 run (kick failed), 8:43