By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Late in the fourth quarter, when it looked like desperation time for Hilo, junior quarterback Drew Kell provided a game-winning spark to neutralize Waiakea’s Kean Wong-to-Dayton Kiko touchdown connection.
The two Warriors produced three second-half touchdowns, but Kell threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Faoa Kelley to help the Vikings outlast the Warriors 21-20 in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football semifinals Friday at Wong Stadium.
The difference turned out to be a PAT attempt in the playoffs that advance the Vikings (5-2 BIIF, 7-2 overall) to the BIIF championship. The season is over for the Warriors (2-5, 3-7).
The Vikings last won the BIIF title in 2003. The Warriors have had a longer drought, last taking the league championship in 2001.
After Wong threw his third touchdown strike to Kiko, the senior wide receiver’s PAT kick was low. Waiakea led 20-14, but there was 4:12 remaining, a lot of time for the Vikings to answer.
The Vikings (5-2 BIIF, 7-4 overall) started at their 23 and Kell threw two straight incompletions. On third-and-10, he ran right, followed his blockers, and picked up 11 yards.
Two plays later, he threw a slant over the middle to Jacob Genegabuas for 13 yards. On the next play, Kell looked outside and saw Kelley in one-on-one coverage. Waiakea’s safety didn’t shift over and the pass hit the sophomore in stride for a 52-yard score.
Keola Miller blasted the PAT down the middle for a 21-20 lead with 2:16 to play.
Isi Holani sacked Wong on fourth-and-10 from the Waiakea 26 to give the ball back to the Vikings with 1:45 left.
In a defensive-filled first half, Hilo grabbed a 7-0 lead on a three-play drive, sparked by Faoa Kelley’s 63-yard run down the left sideline. Two plays later, Makana Josue-Ma‘a crashed in for a four-yard touchdown with 7:31 left in the second quarter.
The Vikings put constant pressure on Wong, collapsing the pocket when he dropped back and flooding running lanes on his zone-option reads. He rushed for 38 yards on eight carries, and completed 5 of 17 passes for 32 yards with one interception.
Josue-Ma‘a, also a defensive lineman, was a thorn for Wong. He recorded two sacks. Holani had the other sack, contributing to the pressure on the senior quarterback.
The Warriors were their own worst enemy in the first half. They had three turnovers and twice got into the red zone (20 yards and in) and couldn’t score. They also committed eight penalties for 85 yards.
At the start of the second quarter, Waiakea recovered a fumble — Hilo’s only turnover in the first half — at the 26-yard line, getting a golden scoring opportunity.
But on fourth-and-21, linebacker Mike Williams sacked Wong, turning the ball over to the Viks, who wasted little time capitalizing on momentum-turning stop with Kelley’s long run and Josue-Ma‘a’s TD.
On the kickoff, Lono Leasure-Lucas rocketed down the sideline, getting taken down at the Hilo 26. Wong later threw a 19-yard pass to Kiko, giving Waiakea another red-zone scoring opportunity.
Chance Agpoon recovered a fumble on the next play, denying the Warriors another scoring opportunity.
For much of the first half, Waiakea rushed three or four and dropped their linebackers, clogging Hilo’s passing lanes. Kell went 5 of 12 for 78 yards. He was well-tracked when he took off, getting nine yards on three carries.
In the third quarter, Wong displayed his run-pass-and-scrambling skills to spark Waiakea to a 14-7 on a pair of touchdown strikes to Kiko.
On their second series, the Warriors needed just three plays to cover 84 yards. After an incompletion, Wong raced 70 yards to set up a 14-yard TD pass to Kiko on the next play.
Then Waiakea seized a 14-7 lead on its next possession when Wong led a 10-play scoring drive that covered 93 yards, capped by a scrambling 22-yard TD pass to Kiko.
In the fourth quarter, Hilo had good field position after a 24-yard punt by Wong. Five plays later, Josue-Ma‘a scored on a six-yard run, making it 14-14 with 5:36 to go.
Kell completed 11 of 24 passes for 160 yards, with one TD and one pick. Kelley rushed for 86 yards on five carries and had 105 yards on three receptions.
Wong was 12 of 32 for 172 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He rushed for 115 yards on 16 attempts. Kiko had 136 yards on seven catches.
Waiakea 0 0 14 6 — 20
Hilo 0 7 0 14 — 21
Hilo — Makana Josue-Ma‘a 4 run (Keola Miller), 7:31
Wai — Dayton Kiko 14 pass from Kean Wong (Kiko kick), 7:49
Wai — Kiko 22 pass from Wong (Kiko kick), 2:38
Hilo —Josue-Ma‘a 6 run (Miller kick), 5:36
Wai — Kiko 24 pass from Wong (kick failed), 4:12
Hilo — Faoa Kelley 52 pass from Drew Kell (Miller kick), 2:16