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(Fri) November 30, 2007

HHSAA DIVISION II FOOTBALL: Raiders Come Back to Win D II Title

By Scott Alonso, Special to

The Iolani Raiders won their second state title against the Lahainaluna Lunas, 28-21, in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football Division II championship. Iolani scored 14 unanswered points in the second half Friday night at Aloha Stadium to propel them to victory. The Raiders were the ILH Division II champions and the No. 2 seed in the Division II bracket. Iolani won the state title back in 2005 and placed second in 2004.

    Iolani was led by junior quarterback Kela Marciel  who completed 17 passes out of 28 attempts, with three touchdowns and one interception. Senior receiver Reid Furukawa had a game high 134 yards off three catches. Senior receivers Lionel Fujioka and Ronnie Hirokawa each had five catches and a touchdown.

    For the Lunas, junior quarterback Jake Manning rushed eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown. He also was 4-for-8 passing for 43 yards with a touchdown and interception.

The Raiders started off the contest in good shape, driving into Luna territory. However, the Lunas forced a fourth down for Raider Marciel. From the Luna 39 yard line, Marciel attempted to hit his receiver in the end zone but was picked off by Matthew Lawless.

    The Lunas drove right away into Raider territory off of three straight running plays. Junior quarterback Jake Manning on third and 10 from the Raider 35 sprinted on a keeper to give Lahainaluna an early 6-0 lead.

    The next series for the Raiders stalled and they went three and out. The Lunas took advantage and had great starting field position off a 32 yard return by senior Lake Casco. Three plays after his return, on third and one, Manning conducted a play action pass and hit his twin brother Jayson Manning for a 24 yard score.  A two-point conversion was successful off Simione Vehikite’s run to extend the Lahainaluna lead 14-0 with 5:42 remaining in the first half.

    Iolani would not go down without a fight. Three plays after the Manning-to-Manning touchdown, Marciel hit Furukawa for a 46 yard touchdown at the 4:20 mark in the first quarter.

    On the following offensive set for the Lunas, they only managed six plays and one first down, giving the ball back to the Raiders. Facing a third and 13 from his own 25, Marciel launched it for Furukawa who grabbed it at midfield, broke two tackles, and raced down to the four yard line. Three plays later, out of the shotgun formation, Marciel nailed Fujioka for a two yard score. That brought the Raiders back into the ball game tied with the Lunas at 14 apiece. 

    Special teams came up big again for the Lunas when Casco returned another punt back into Raider territory. This time he raced 43 yards that set up a Williams rushing touchdown five plays later to give Lahainaluna the lead at 21-14 with only 34 seconds left in the half.

    Both teams battled each other defensively in the third quarter. However the scoring draught would not last long. The Raiders came down the field as the third quarter was winding down. Deep in Luna territory, Iolani faced 3 and 10 on the Luna 12. Marciel, under immense pressure in the red zone, was being brought down by Luna defenders, fired it to Hirokawa on the left side. Hirokawa broke a tackle and raced into the pylon for six points and the Raiders tied the game again, this time at 21.
    The Raiders saw that the tie would not last long. Iolani went 80 yards in the fourth quarter to score their second touchdown of the second half. Marciel, at the Luna 28, rolled to his left and found senior receiver Aaron Fong for a 17 yard play. Two plays later senior running back Justin Yamamoto pounded it into the end zone to give Iolani their first lead of the game, 28-21 with only 5:21 left in the contest.

    The Lunas stormed back into Raider territory looking to tie things back up. They converted on a fourth down play off a 21 yard rushing play by Vehikite. However, the Raiders withstood the Luna rushing attack and ended any hope of a Luna score when Jarom Baldomero intercepted Manning’s pass with under two minutes to play.

    The Raiders improved to a .500 record, 6-6, while the Lunas fell to 9-2. Lahainaluna was the No. 1 seed in the Division II bracket and had an impressive victory in the semifinals of the tournament against No. 4 Kaimuki (52-20). This was the first appearance for the Lunas in the state title contest.