HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Baldwin hangs on to beat Farrington
WAILUKU » Third-seeded Baldwin had to survive a fourth quarter featuring more twists and turns than the road to Hana before securing a 26-14 win over Farrington in a quarterfinal-round game of the State Division I Football Championships last night at War Memorial Stadium.
» No. 1 Saint Louis vs. No. 5 Waianae, 4 p.m., Aloha Stadium
» No. 4 Leilehua vs. No. 2 Baldwin, 7 p.m., Aloha Stadium
» Iolani vs. Kauai, 2 p.m., Iolani School
» No. 6 Lahainalna vs. Kaimuki, 7 p.m., War Memorial Stadium
The return trip to Aloha Stadium proved to be a lot bumpier than expected after the Bears cruised to a 14-0 lead midway through the opening period and held a 20-7 advantage midway through the second quarter.
The 12-point margin of victory was somewhat deceiving, but Baldwin earned a berth in next Saturday's semifinals against second-seeded Leilehua.
While possibly forgotten by many fans on Oahu, the Bears' coaches, players and fans can still vividly and painfully recall last year's semifinal loss to eventual state champion Kahuku on a last-second miracle play.
With Jordan Helle completing his first five passes last night, the Bears looked totally in control as the senior quarterback hooked up with slotback Skyler Cabacungan on scoring plays of 41 and 19 yards.
But before the hometown crowd grew too comfortable, the third-place team from the OIA began to find its groove in the second period.
Quarterback Alefosiu Iu began to hit some passes and scramble for some big gains. More importantly, converted tailback Apelu So'oalo began to show the form he displayed in last week's 37-19 third-place-game victory over Kapolei, during which he rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
So'oalo got the Govs on the scoreboard on a pinball-like run of 2 yards with 9:20 left in the second quarter.
The Bears bounced right back, however, as Helle hooked up with Cabacungan for a third time -- this one a 6-yarder -- to take a 20-7 lead that increased the speedy 5-foot-5, 145-pound senior's season TD total to 17.
Baldwin again appeared on the verge of turning the game into a mismatch before Cabacungan forced an option pass that was picked off in the end zone by Farrington's James Smith, preventing the Bears from padding their 13-point lead shortly before intermission.
But Farrington made things interesting when Jimmy Robinson picked off Helle's pass and returned it 15 yards for a score. That allowed the Govs to close to 20-14 with 7:41 left in the third period.
The Bears again responded as Helle completed his fourth scoring pass of the night -- a 16-yarder in the left corner of the end zone to returning all-state receiver Chase Nakamura -- that gave Baldwin a 26-14 lead with 2:43 left in the third.
Although there was no further scoring, there was plenty of drama.
The Bears appeared to make a major mistake by taking a 22-yard field goal by freshman Ceejay Santos off the scoreboard following a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
Baldwin accepted the penalty to set up a first and goal from the 3. Then, a scoring run was nullified by a holding call, immediately followed by two more holding penalties.
Unfortunately for the Govs, turnovers and penalties kept them from cashing in on Baldwin's struggles down the stretch, and Farrington closed out the season with a 6-4-2 record.
No. 2 Baldwin 26, No. 7 Farrington 14
At War Memorial Stadium
Bald--Skyler Cabacungan 41 pass from Jordan Helle (BrockShishido kick)
Bald--Cabacungan 19 pass from Helle (Shishido kick)
Far--Apelu So'oalo 2 run (Matt Stowers kick)
Bald--Cabacungan 6 pass from Helle (kick blocked)
Far--Jimmy Robinson 15 interception return (Stowers kick)
Bald--Chase Nakamura 16 pass from Helle (kick failed)