Tigers take third place in OIA

By Ryan Ito
Special to the Star-Bulletin

McKinley defeated Farrington 14-10 in a battle of Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference teams to capture the OIA's third seed for the Chevron State Football Championship.

Despite wet and muddy conditions, McKinley's junior quarterback Abel Werner found a way to shine.

"Abel played a great game," said McKinley coach David Tanuvasa. "He was very composed out there."

And in spite of the terrible conditions, Werner displayed a calmness beyond his years. He led McKinley's offense on a six-play, 66-yard opening drive for an early 7-0 lead. Werner threw for 52 yards and was 4-for-4 passing on the drive, which concluded on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Desoto. Werner finished the game 18-for-28 and 204 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

But then the rains came and made an already muddy field trickier to play on.

"When we started the game, we were successful in driving down the field," Tanuvasa said. "But when it started raining, the ball got soggy. So we ran the ball more."

The strategy didn't seem to work, as McKinley found itself down 10-7 with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter.

That's when Werner stepped up again and led McKinley on a 5-play, 45-yard drive to score the winning touchdown.

After receiving a steady diet of McKinley running back Michael Vasconcellos all night long, the Governors' defense bit on a play-action pass. With the safeties looking for the run, Werner found a streaking Isiah Iaea for a 32-yard game-winning touchdown with 5:12 remaining.

McKinley's defense also played an integral part in the victory. The Tigers' defense played rock solid and produced an important three-and-out stand against the Farrington offense to set up the game-winning score.

And that might have been the second-best defensive stand of the game.

At the start of the second quarter, Farrington had the ball with a first-and-goal at the Tigers' 7-yard line.

McKinley stopped Farrington running back Matt Bell on first and third downs and sacked Governors quarterback Royce Machado on fourth-and-goal from the Tigers' 3-yard line.

"We knew the key was not letting Matt Bell run open down the field," said Tanuvasa. "And we did that."

McKinley held Bell to 20 yards on nine carries in the first half. Bell finished strong, compiling 61 yards on six carries in the third quarter to help the Governors grab a 10-7 lead on a 22-yard field goal by Smith Lafaele. On the drive, Bell rushed five times for 53 yards, including a 39-yard run around the right end. Bell finished with 82 yards for the game.

McKinley will face Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium in the first round of the state tournament. Farrington faces ILH champion St. Louis.

Farrington 0 7 3 0 -- 10

McKinley 7 0 0 7 -- 14

McK -- Michael Vasconcellos 5 pass from Abel Werner (John Mai kick)
Farr -- Dionte Nomaaea 40 pass from Royce Machado (Smith Lafaele kick)
Farr -- Paulo Feagai 22 FG
McK -- Isaiah Iaea 34 pass from Werner (Mai kick)

RUSHING -- Farr: Matt Bell 16-84, Jostin Waialae 5-20, Machado 5-(-12). McK: Vasconcellos 20-68, Werner 10-4, Joshua Bumanglag 1-5, Lama Lauvao 1-(-4).

PASSING -- Farr: Machado 7-15-1-93. McK: Werner 18-28-1-207.

RECEIVING -- Farr: Bell 4-21, Waialae 1-11, Nomaaea 2-61. McK: Vasconcellos 4-20, Iaea 5-74, Bumanglag 7-100, Anapuni Coleman 1-4, Lauvao 1-9.

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