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(Fri) November 30, 2007

HHSAA DIVISION I FOOTBALL: Leilehua Comes From Behind To Take First Ever State Title from Saint Louis

By Scott Alonso, Special to

The Leilehua Mules upset the Saint Louis Crusaders, 20-16, to win the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championship Friday night. The Crusaders saw their undefeated season end and Leilehua bring OIA their fourth state title in the past five years. The Mules were led by sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley, who was called up from the junior varsity team during the Mule playoff run, when he threw the game winning touchdown pass with only 36 seconds left in the game in front of 15,583 fans at Aloha Stadium.

Manley led the Mules to five straight victories and helped Leilehua score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The sophomore was also able to escape constant pressure from the Crusader defense. He was only sacked once the entire game compared to six times in the Mule’s win last week against Baldwin.

Saint Louis came back mid way through the contest after finding themselves down 6-0, but could not stop the Mules when it mattered in the fourth. Costly penalties allowed Leilehua to continue their offensive drives late in the game.
Despite losing to the Mules, the Crusaders outgained them 373-to-194 in total offense. However, Saint Louis tallied 15 penalties for 146 yards. Meanwhile, the Mules only had seven penalties for 51 yards.

In the first half, Manley only completed four passes on 14 attempts. He finished with 18 completions on 42 attempts with one touchdown and two interceptions.  Senior cornerback and wide receiver Allan Macam recorded 120 all-purpose yards, a team high. He grabbed seven receptions for 77 yards, both game highs.

For the Crusaders, senior Micah Mamiya had 155 yards passing on 11 completions with 23 attempts. Unfortunately for Saint Louis the senior had three interceptions and only one touchdown.

The Mules used their defense to beat back the Crusaders in the first quarter. On second and 10 on his own 17, Mamiya dropped back, looking to his right and fired a bullet down the right sideline but it was intercepted by Macam. He then raced 28 yards into the end zone eluding a few Crusaders to give the Mules a 6-0 lead at the 5:55 mark.

    The Crusaders regained their composure in the second quarter when they stormed back with nine points, all unanswered.  The Mules had no answer for Saint Louis’s defense when on their first two possessions in the second quarter they went three and out. Keani Nishigaya recorded a 20 yard rush to put the Crusaders into Mule territory after the Mule’s second three and out. Nishigaya ended the game with 164 all-purpose yards, a game high, all on the ground.

Three plays later with under six minutes left to play in the half, Mamiya found Ryan Iaea for a 11 yard completion. It came on a critical fourth-and-9 play that could have tilted the momentum in Leilehua’s favor if they stopped the Crusaders. Since the Mules failed at ending the Saint Louis drive, three plays later Mamiya coasted into the end zone from six yards out to tie the game at 6.

    Saint Louis tacked on a field goal by Warren Spencer, a 32 yarder that gave them their first lead of the game, 9-6 at the half. The Crusaders crushed the Mules offensively; gaining 238 yards on 43 plays.  The Mules only managed 19 yards on 21 plays. Despite that tremendous difference in offensive production, the Mules remained in the game at that point. However they needed to have Manley step it up. He only completed four passes out of 14 attempts in the first half for 23 yards.

    Manley appeared to break out of his funk in the second half. He started with terrible field position as the Mules got the ball first in the second half at their own 18. He got the Mules to their own 29 but faced a third-and-14. On third down, Manley scrambled away from three pass rushers and found a leaping Edieson Demalo who hauled in the pass between two Crusader defenders. That kept the Mule hopes alive as they reached Crusader territory for the first time in the contest off the Demalo grab.

    Their efforts ended in vain when the Mules were stuffed on fourth-and-two on the Crusader 27 to end their drive. Saint Louis wasted no time in trying to increase their three point lead.

    Nishigaya carried the load for the Crusaders on the following drive, rushing just three times and gaining 49 yards. That enabled Saint Louis to reach the Mule 18 yard line and Mamiya found a streaking Lucas Gonsalves in the end zone for another Crusader touchdown. They extended their lead to 10, 16-6, with 5:53 left in the quarter.

    The Mules apparently saved the best for the fourth quarter.  A key defensive series for Leilelua stopped the Saint Louis assault at the beginning minutes of the fourth quarter. The Mules then marched on for six minutes, ran 14 plays and good some help from two Saint Louis penalties. Once the Mules eclipsed the Crusader 25 yard line, Saint Louis was tagged for a 10 yard penalty and a pass interference call that gave the Mules the ball on the seven yard line. Three straight rushing plays pounded the ball into the end zone behind Bronson Pausa’s one yard line over the left guard. That brought some life back into Leilehua and the score 16-13 in favor on Saint Louis with 6:13 remaining in the game.

    The Crusaders had scored 16 unanswered points up to the Mule’s first offensive touchdown.

    The Mules continued their run in the fourth quarterback behind the late heroics of Manley. He got the ball back with a little over two minutes to play after forcing the Crusaders to punt on fourth-and-one from their own 49. Manley started the Mules on their own 37, but quickly advanced down the field from costly Saint Louis penalities, including a late hit on Manely and a pass interference call to bring the Mules all the way to the 33 yard line of Saint Louis.  Two plays later he hit Macam for nine yards but the Mules stalled on third down. The Crusaders forced the Mules to a crucial fourth down-and-one. However, with the field spread with Mukle receivers, the middle was open and Manley tucked it and ran for the first down with only 1:15 left on the clock and no timeouts.

    Manley then got the Mules to the Saint Louis 15 after a six yard completion. The very next play he sailed the ball on the right side of the field towards the end zone and Demalo brought it in for the game winning score and gave Leilehua the lead at 20-16 with only 35 seconds left in the game.