HILO — Drew Kell ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third score, and Hilo’s defense stopped Waiakea from the 2-yard line on two successive fourth quarter plays as the Vikings held on to a thrilling 21-14 win over the Warriors on Friday night.
About 800 fans watched the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football game between the crosstown rivals.
The Vikings, under new coach Dave Baldwin, improved to 2-1 in BIIF action and 3-2 overall. The gutsy Warriors, under coach Fred Lau, dropped to 1-2 and 2-4, respectively.
But Friday’s hard-hitting, clean contest could have gone either way with Hilo grabbing a 21-14 advantage on Kell’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Genegabus in the endzone with 5 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Warriors, led by multi-talented senior quarterback Kean Wong, junior running back Devin Preston and senior receiver Dayton Kiko, made it exciting in the fourth quarter and knocked on the Vikings’ goal-line door before being turned away in a ferocious Hilo goal-line stand in the final 1:49 of the game.
Waiakea had the ball to start the final quarter and drove 20 yards down field before Hilo’s Kamuela Patnaude intercepted a Wong pass deep in the Vikings’ territory with 8:23 left. But during Hilo’s ensuing drive, Kell was injured and left the game, being replaced by backup QB Donovan Kelley.
The Warriors’ gusty defense then stiffened and forced the Vikings to punt at the 4:50 mark. Wong and Preston led Waiakea to the Hilo 5-yard line with 1:49 remaining, then the 2-yard line on its next play, bringing up fourth down. But the host’s defense rose to the occasion on the Warriors’ first attempt to score from the 2, with the hard-to-tackle Wong being pulled down on a sweep to the left side.
But on the play, the Vikings were called for a facemask, and Waiakea had another shot at either catching its rival or possibly going ahead on a two-point conversion as time ticked down. But the sky-high Hilo defense stepped up one more time and stopped the Warriors on fourth down, denying them a clutch TD and taking over possession with 57 seconds remaining.
The Vikings then ran out the clock to seal the hard-earned victory over the hustling Warriors.
Waiakea struck first in the opening quarter when Preston, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back, capped a seven-play, 46-yard drive with a 3-yard run to make it 6-0 at the 8:22 mark. Kiko then added the extra-point kick.
Hilo returned the favor on its next possession, driving 53 yards in 14 plays to hit paydirt. Kell, a highly competitive 6-2, 170-pound junior, carried the ball in from the 2-yard line at the 2:10 mark. But the host’s run for a two-point conversion was snuffed out by the physical Waiakea defense.
The Vikings struck again in the second quarter when the opportunistic Kell led a 12-play, 73-yard drive into the endzone to give Hilo the lead with 4:53 left in the half. Kell capped the march with a 4-yard run, then fired a two-point conversion pass to junior Isi Holani to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead.
But anytime you have Kean Wong on any team, in almost any sport, you can’t take much of a breather.
On Waiakea’s next possession, the 5-9, 179-pound QB fought off a strong Hilo rush on second down from his own 32-yard line and rifled a 58-yard TD pass to a streaking Kiko, who beat two Viking defenders for the quick score. Kiko then added his second extra-point kick of the entertaining evening to tie the score at 14-14 with 2:27 left before the intermission.
Both teams battled through a hard-fought third quarter. But Hilo rode the effective passing of Kell and the Vikings took the lead on the 10-yard TD pass to Genegabus that proved to be the game-winner.
Rain started late in the third quarter and hampered both teams’ offenses, especially in the final quarter when neither team could score.
But the Warriors made it exciting in the end, pushing the Vikings’ defense to the max before Hilo was able to hold off its rallying rivals.
Kell had an outstanding game. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 197 yards with a TD and an interception. He also carried the ball 17 times for a game-high 109 yards.
Kell also mixed up his passing, with four different receivers gaining at least 30 yards. They included Tyler Mahoe (four catches, 53 yards), Kelley (two catches, 40 yards), Tristan Spikes (four catches, 39 yards) and Aven Kualii (three catches, 30 yards). Kelley also added 52 yards on six carries.
The Vikings finished with 163 yards rushing and 197 passing for 360 total yards. The Warriors had 104 yards rushing and 63 passing for 167 total yards. But in the second half, Hilo’s defense held Waiakea to just 53 yards on the ground and five yards in the air, while the Vikings had 44 yards rushing and 104 passing.
Wong completed 2 of 8 passes for 63 yards, and he had an interception. He also carried the ball 10 times for a team-high 82 yards. The dangerous Preston was often ganged-tackled and held to only 16 yards on 13 carries.
But the Warriors also got a big boost from their special teams with Lono Leasure-Lucas (a 75-yard punt return and a 50-yard kick-off return), and the fleet-footed Kiko putting the heat on Hilo’s defense any time the Vikings had to give up the ball.
In the final minute, the game turned into what most Viking and Warrior fans expect each time they meet — both teams going hard at one another with the outcome in doubt until the final seconds tick off the scoreboard.
On Friday night, it was Hilo’s turn. Next time, on Oct. 12, Waiakea is hoping to return the favor — pulling out a similar thrilling victory over the Vikings in the longstanding and proud rivalry between the schools.
In the junior-varsity game, Hilo beat Waiakea 42-6.
At Wong Stadium
Waiakea 7 7 0 0 — 14
Hilo 6 8 7 0 — 21
WAI — Devin Preston 3 run (Dayton Kiko kick), 8:22
HILO — Drew Kell 2 run (run failed), 2:10
HILO — Kell 4 run (Kell pass to Isi Holani), 4:53
WAI — Kiko 58 pass from Kean Wong (Kiko kick), 2:57
HILO — Jacob Genegabus 10 pass from Kell (Keola Miller kick), 5:20