By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Senior quarterback Kean Wong threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead Waiakea to a 25-8 win over Keaau on Friday night.
A small crowd watched the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football game at Wong Stadium.
The Warriors, under head coach Fred Lau, improved to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the BIIF D-I standings. The Cougars, under head coach Michael Nonies, fell to 0-7 and 0-5, respectively.
Wong didn’t start the game due to missing practice earlier in the week. But he replaced starter Kayed Rodrigues as the Warriors drove into Keaau territory on their first possession. The 5-foot-9, 179-pound Wong fired an 18-yard pass to senior Lono Leasure-Lucas on his first play, then rifled a 16-yard TD pass to senior Richard Kuntemeyer on the next play to give Waiakea a 6-0 lead with 8:49 left in the opening quarter.
Senior Dayton Kiko then kicked the extra point to stretch the Warriors’ lead to 7-0.
The Waiakea defense stepped up to turn back the Cougars’ wishbone attack on a short drive, and then the Warriors regained possession at their own 44-yard line. Wong marched the hosts down the field before Keaau’s Desmond Donios intercepted a pass to stop the Waiakea drive inside Cougar territory.
But the visitors fumbled the ball on their 42-yard line and Waiakea junior Keoni Santiago pounced on the first of his two recovered fumbles. Wong then capped a Warrior drive with a one-yard scoring run with 2:14 remaining in the first quarter to make it 13-0. The extra-point kick failed.
The Warriors added to their lead with 4:09 left in the second quarter as Wong threw a 28-yard TD pass to the quick Kiko, who bolted into the end zone to make it 19-0. Due to a bad snap, the attempt for an extra-point kick failed as the Keaau defense smothered Kiko on the botched play.
Keaau drove 61 yards for a TD to open the third quarter. Starting QB Jared Quihano-Makaweo led the charge with some impressive rushing by junior running back Raskassa Johnson, who had runs of 14 and 13 yards to keep the drive alive. Johson’s last bolt, a 13-yard sprint up the middle, put the Cougars on the scoreboard, making it 19-6 at the 8:04 mark. Quihano-Makaweo then ran in the two-point conversion as the visitors sliced the deficit to 19-8.
But Waiakea’s defense stepped up big in the fourth quarter, holding Keaau to minus-3 yards on the ground and a lone pass completion from Quihano-Makaweo to Johnson for nine yards.
In the meantime, Wong led the Warriors to two productive drives with the second one ending with a 38-yard Wong TD run on a fourth down-and-one play at the 3:52 mark. The extra-point kick failed, leaving the score at 25-8.
The Cougars couldn’t maintain their final drive following Wong’s score and turned the ball over on downs with 1:55 remaining. Rodrigues replaced Wong at QB and after the hosts picked up a first down on Joseph Alvarez’s 11-yard dash, the Warriors ran out the clock.
Waiakea finished the evening with 174 yards rushing and 93 passing for 267 total yards. Keaau had 181 rushing and 18 passing for 199 yards.
Wong completed 7 of 16 passes for 93 yards and two TDs. He also tossed an interception as well as added 81 yards on the ground on 11 carries. Kiko was Wong’s most productive receiver, with three catches for 68 yards and a TD — all in the first half.
Quihano-Makaweo completed 2 of 9 passes for 18 yards while trying to fend off a heavy Waiakea pass rush throughout the contest. The mongoose-quick Johnson led the Cougars’ rushing attack with 84 yards on nine attempts.
Penalties also hurt both teams, with 28 flags being thrown on a busy night for the officials. Keaau was tagged 15 times for 142 yards and Waiakea 13 times for 95 yards — a total of 237 yards in total penalties. The Cougars also had two turnovers while the Warriors had one, on Wong’s interception.
Keaau played without talented senior QB Keha Wong for the second straight game.
With Friday’s loss, Keaau is guaranteed the No. 4 seed in the upcoming BIIF D-I playoffs and travels to play the top seed. If unbeaten Kealakehe (4-0 BIIF) beats Hilo (3-1) tonight in a key game at Wong Stadium, the Waveriders would host Keaau in the opening playoff game on Oct. 20, while Hilo and Waiakea would meet in the other semifinal that same day.
Waiakea fought past Keaau 31-27 in their first meeting during the regular season.
In the junior-varsity game, Keaau topped Waiakea 34-20.
At Wong Stadium
Keaau 0 0 8 0 — 8
Waiakea 13 6 0 6 — 25
WAI — Kean Wong 16 pass Richard Kuntemeyer (Dayton Kiko kick), 8:49
WAI — Wong 1 run (kick failed), 2:05
WAI — Wong 28 pass Kiko (run failed), 4:09
KEAAU — Raskassa Johnson 13 run (Jared Quihano-Makaweo run), 8:04
WAI — Wong 38 run (kick failed), 3:52