clock to beat Govs
In the postseason, a win is a win.
"It was ugly," said Leilehua head coach Nolan Tokuda. "But it's a win, sometimes it pays to be lucky."
Amidst intermittent rain and a mud-soaked field, No. 9 Leilehua (6-1) committed four turnovers, and couldn't move the ball through the air as it usually does but persevered to advance into next weekend's OIA Red semifinals with a hard-fought 7-6 win over visiting Farrington.
Instead, the Mules turned to an outstanding defensive effort and an efficient running game that helped them control the clock and move the chains, with senior back Justin Lawelawe accounting for 51 of their 106 rushing yards.
After a Mason Edra punt return gave Leilehua a first-and-10 at Farrington's 32-yard line, the Mules kept things simple, running the ball on five straight plays, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Bryant Moniz.
Kicker R.B. Bibilone provided the game-winning score with his extra point on the slippery turf with 6:57 left in the third quarter to cap a fine performance that also saw him produce a pair of key punts of more than 40 yards to pin Farrington in their end of the field.
Bibilone's final punt with 44 seconds left was the clincher for Leilehua, as the Mules' special teams jumped on a fumble by Farrington's returner at the Governors' 20-yard line to wrap the win.
From there, Leilehua took a snap from victory formation to end the contest.
"Our offensive line coach Ed Kama called it a heavy offense," Tokuda said. "We brought some guys over from the defense and replaced our smaller guys on the line with our big boys to play more smash-mouth football."
Leilehua's defense stood strong, limiting Farrington to 117 yards of total offense, and came up with a number of timely turnovers. The Mules defense made their biggest stand in the second half with Leilehua nursing a one-point lead, holding the Governors scoreless on six drives during the last two quarters.
"Our defense stepped up for us all year long," Tokuda said. "Farrington got into the red zone four times and only scored once. Our defensive coaches did a great job preparing for this game."
The Governors took possession for the only score of the first half when Leilehua's long snapper overshot punter Bibilone on fourth down.
Bibilone picked the fumble up on the Mules' 5-yard line and attempted to turn upfield, but slipped and was quickly covered by a Farrington defender.
From there, Aneko Vaimasanuu took handoffs on consecutive snaps, eventually bulling through for his third touchdown of the season, from 3 yards out at the 8:39 of the first quarter.
Leilehua turned the ball over again on the ensuing series, when Moniz's pass attempt slipped through Chustin Senas' hands and was intercepted by the Governors' Opeti Gafa.
No. 9 Leilehua 7, Farrington 6
At Leilehua H.S. field
Farr - Amekoa Vaimasanuu 2 run (kick failed).
Lei-Bryant Moniz 3 run (Ryan Bibilone kick).
RUSHING - Farr: Vaimasanuu 14-22, Ropeti Gafa 1-4, James Hakuole 7-23. Lei: Justin Lawelawe 16-51, Sione Faleofa 7-40, Antony Palomares 2-12, Moniz 1-3
PASSING - Farr: Eti Atonio 10-23-1-68. Lei: Moniz 10-30-2-64.
RECEIVING - Farr: Alex Mendoza 4-28, Tanner Fetui 2-13, Brandon Abunang 2-8, Fetaiagogo Fonoti 1-5, Kenneth Faumui 1-14. Lei: Palomares 5-32, Chustin Senas 3-17, John Felix 1-4, Lawelawe 1-1.