By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Kealakehe made its share of mistakes — 10 penalties for over 100 yards and three turnovers — but compensated with much better blocking and tackling, the basics of the game, to bowl over Keaau.
The Waveriders ran wild and made sure the Cougars went nowhere on the ground, rolling to a 34-22 victory in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football game on Saturday before 1,500 fans at Wong Stadium.
Giuseppe Zapataolive scored two touchdowns and rushed for 193 yards on 19 carries, after a modest first half of 42 yards on three attempts, to lead the ground assault for the Waveriders (3-0 BIIF, 5-1 overall).
Kealakehe had five runs of 20 yards or more, finishing with 374 yards on 48 carries, a whopping 7.79-yard-per-rush average. Quarterback Jordan Cristobal added 51 yards on seven carries and slotback Lennox Jones had 33 yards on six attempts.
Cristobal also provided enough balance through the air. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards, firing two touchdowns and running for another. He threw two interceptions, but neither proved harmful.
Meanwhile, the Cougars (0-3, 0-5) often ran into a blue-and-white brick wall, finishing with 26 yards on 20 attempts. The Waveriders rarely got pushed off their gap, clogged running lanes, and chased down anyone who escaped to the outside.
For example, Johnny Vance poked around the perimeter and tried to power through the tackles, but found no holes. He had 16 yards on eight attempts. Rakassa Johnson led the way with 29 yards on seven carries, getting 24 yards on a touchdown run.
Despite the victory, Kealakehe can’t really give its defense a gold star. That’s because the pass rush couldn’t get to Keaau quarterback Keha Wong, who wasn’t sacked and was 10 of 21 for 162 yards. He tossed two picks, but went deep on the ‘Riders a few times, whipping four completions of 20 yards or more.
Also, Kealakehe went for a two-point conversion four times, scoring just twice. That’s probably no big deal in the BIIF, but that’s a situation — say a future goal-line scoring opportunity — that will likely come into play down the line for the annual state contender.
Anyway, Kealakehe got its running game going in the second quarter, and behind three big runs of 18 yards or more set up its first score, a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Cristobal. He started the eight-play drive with a 21-yard gain, and Zapataolive and Jones later added runs of 20 and 18 yards.
The Waveriders’ lack of long-distance kicker on its special teams helped set up Keaau’s touchdown one series later. A short kickoff spotted the ball near midfield.
The Cougars got the ball at their 42 and Wong’s 28-yard pass to Matt Shimabukuro on third-and-16 kept the nine-drive alive. Johnson eventually scored on a 24-yard run.
On the ensuing possession, Kealakehe took a 14-7 lead after Zapataolive raced to the house on a 21-yard TD run and Cristobal tossed a two-point conversion strike to Jones.
The Waveriders started the third quarter with a 10-play scoring march, all runs, capped by Zapataolive’s 4-yard endzone plunge.
Then after Vance ripped off a 54-yard kickoff return, the Cougars fumbled two plays later, and it didn’t take the Waveriders long to capitalize. Cristobal fired a 26-yard scoring strike to Jones for a 26-7 lead, after four straight runs.
The fourth quarter was fun for the fans and gave the Cougars a teaspoon of hope after Matt Winters recovered a fumble and raced 43 yards to the Kealakehe 28.
Four plays later, aided by a pass interference penalty on the ‘Riders, Vance powered across the goal line from 3 yards out. Then Shannon Nihipali ran in the two-point conversion, cutting the deficit to 26-15.
Showing its appetite for the ground, Kealakehe ran six straight times, capping its last scoring drive on David Fangupo’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Wong scored on a 1-yard run with less than two minutes.
In the junior varsity, it was Kealakehe 44, Keaau 6.
Kealakehe 0 14 12 8 — 34
Keaau 0 7 0 15 — 22
Keala — Jordan Cristobal 1 run (run failed), 11:22
Keaau — Raskassa Johnson 24 run (Talon Ota kick), 7:20
Keala — Giuseppe Zapataolive 21 pass from Cristobal (Lennox Jones pass from Cristobal), 4:24
Keala —Zapataolive 4 run (run failed), 6:29
Keala — Jones 26 pass from Cristobal (kick failed), 2:50
Keaau — Johnny Vance 3 run (Shannon Nihipali run), 8:22
Keala — David Fangupo 1 run (Fangupo run), 5:34
Keaau — Keha Wong 1 run (Ota kick), 1:19