By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
WAIMEA – WAIMEA — John Replogle had to do a little bit of everything last season on the soccer field to carry Konawaena to its first league title in 32 years.
That was pressure.
A simple do-or-die field-goal attempt against a stiff crosswind?
Replogle nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired Saturday to cap the Wildcats’ furious fourth-quarter rally for a 22-21 victory that stunned Hawaii Prep in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II football showdown.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t have pressure,” said Replogle, a second-year kicker who was the BIIF Division II Player of the Year last season in soccer. “A lot of pressure was on me in soccer, it finally got to the point where I just block it off.”
Brandon Howes threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Chase Takaki to help the Wildcats (5-1, 4-0 BIIF) rally from a 21-7 deficit. But perhaps their biggest hookup came on a 26-yard passing play that got Replogle well within what he considers his range with just over five seconds left.
“Touchback Johnny,” as he’s affectionately known by at Konawaena home games because of his penchant for deep kickoffs, says he works on 55-yarders in practice and should make anything from 45 and in — and he wasn’t even aware that Konawaena only had 10 players on the field during the winning kick after a lineman failed to get on the field.
“Best soccer player in our school,” Konawaena coach Cliff Walters said. “Once we taught him to keep his head down and just boot it through, he was fine. He’s got a great leg, he can kick it a long way.”
Konawaena’s high-octane offense was bottled up through three quarters by Ka Makani (4-2, 2-2), but the Wildcats took advantage of three Bobby Lum fumbles in the fourth quarter, scoring after the first two to mount their comeback.
One fumble stood out to Takaki. On the play, Jordan Miyahira-Young, a 5-foot-6, 155-pound safety, stood up to Lum, listed at 5-8, 210, and got the ball loose.
“That’s Wildcat football; we don’t give up,” said Takaki, also a defensive back. “We’re going to go as much as we can. Even when we’re down and we get pushed to our backs, we’re going to stand up and say give us some more.”
Howes’ first completion of the second half was a 14-yard touchdown pass to Takaki that got Konawaena within 21-13 after the two-point run failed.
Konawaena faced a third down deep in its own territory on it next possession when Takaki ran a deep post, and as the cornerback went for the interception, Takaki grabbed the ball and turned it into an 89-yard touchdown.
“It was off to the races,” said Takaki, who finished with five catches for 155 yards. “I didn’t see anything but green grass. I gotta go.”
The two-point pass to tie failed, but Konawaena forced a punt, giving Howes the ball back with 49 seconds left at his 29. He found his brother, Cameron Howes, on 12-yard pass on third-and-10, and Konawaena was aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty.
Brandon Howes, who came in averaging more than 300 yards passing a game, finished 8 of 24 for 192 yards and an interception, and added 86 yards rushing with a touchdown.
“When he had to make plays he did,” Walters said. “He’s a playmaker. It wasn’t his best game, but Hawaii Prep had something to do with that.”
Tied at 7-7 at halftime, Lum set up Hawaii Prep’s go-ahead score with consecutive sacks, the last of which forced Howes to fumble and gave Ka Makani the ball at the Konawaena 2.
Lum then powered in over the left side, finishing with 98 yards on 25 carries.
Ka Makani, who committed four turnovers, looked primed to join Konawaena atop the Division II standings when Koa Ellis hit Mike Nakahara on a 7-yard scoring play with just 16 ticks left in the third quarter. Earlier in the drive, Ellis and Nakahara connected on a 51-yard play.
Instead, if the two teams meet again this season, it will be a playoff game that’s likely to be Kealakekua.
“I’m very proud of the way we played today,” coach Jordan Hayslip said. “I’m confident these guys will bounce back. They have great character.”
Ellis was 7 of 11 for 148 yards.
Walters, meanwhile, is tired of hearing about how other teams on the island are struggling with inexperience. He noted that his defense Saturday included only two seniors – middle linebacker was Evyn Yamaguchi was at a baseball camp in Arizona.
“No one is as young as we are,” Walters said. “We missed our heart-and-soul linebacker, but today Bubba Ellis-Noa was our heart and soul. We played a great team. Our offensive line fought through adversity to hang in there against a larger group and fought to the end.”
Ellis-Noa ran for yards on offense.
Konawaena 7 0 0 15 – 22
Hawaii Prep 0 7 14 0 – 21
Kona – Brandon Howes 12 run (John Replogle kick), 9:14
HPA – Kellen Gillins 3 run (Justin Perry kick), 4:01
HPA – Bobby Lum 2 run (Perry kick), 6:25
HPA – Mike Nakahara 7 pass from Koa Ellis (Perry kick), :16
Kona – Chase Takaki 15 pass from Brandon Howes (run failed), 9:38
Kona – Takaki 89 pass from Howes (pass failed), 5:30
Kona – FG Replogle 37, :00