HILO —Maybe Hilo doesn’t need to throw the football to win, at least when it comes to Big Island Interscholastic Federation competition.
Behind a ground game that produced 341 yards and four rushing touchdowns, the Vikings trounced Waiakea 45-20 in a crosstown rivalry game on Saturday at Wong Stadium.
It also helped that Hilo’s defense can score, too. Senior linebacker Sione Holika generated a pair of touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery and another on a pick-six.
Hilo (8-1 overall, 7-0 BIIF) hosts Keaau (1-6, 1-6) in the BIIF Division I semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wong Stadium.
Waiakea (2-7, 2-5) plays at Kealakehe (3-5, 3-4) in the other BIIF Division I semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Waverider Stadium.
The first half was filled with mistakes, but it was otherwise exciting for fans. Holika capitalized on a pair of Waiakea turnovers for touchdowns for a 25-7 halftime lead. The Warriors finished with six turnovers; the Vikings had three giveaways.
On the first play from scrimmage, the Vikings fumbled the kickoff, and on the very next play Waiakea quarterback Bryce Felipe threw a sideline pass to Shane Picanco. The ball was tipped by a Hilo defender and deflected into the hands of Picanco, who raced in for a 40-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hilo’s Hunter Macabio scored on a 95-yard return, but a holding penalty canceled that long score and the Vikings eventually punted.
The Warriors fumbled two plays later and Holika scooped up the ball and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown for a 7-7 tie late in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Tristin Spikes scored on a 1-yard run to cap a six-play, 60-yard drive that started when teammate Donavan Kelley ripped off a 23-yard run. (The two-point pass attempt failed.)
Hilo quarterback Saone Atuekaho was 2 of 4 for 35 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Kelley; Kelley was 0 of 2.
But each got big gains on the ground. Atuekaho rushed for 89 yards on five carries with a score, while Kelley added 57 yards on eight attempts. Spikes led the way with 115 yards on 14 attempts.
Meanwhile, Waiakea senior Devin Preston cracked the 1,000-yard rushing barrier. He finished with 104 yards on 15 carries, pushing his total to 1,049 yards. Felipe was 5 of 15 for 85 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.
Hilo 7 18 6 14 — 45
Waiakea 7 0 0 13 — 20
Wai — Shane Picanco 40 pass from Bryce Felipe (Tyler Kerr kick), 11:42
Hilo —Sione Holika 25 fumble return (Rayce Takayesu), 5:16
Hilo — Tristin Spikes 1 run (pass failed), 11:03
Hilo — Ofa Fahiua 19 run (run failed), 1:43
Hilo — Sione Holika 57 interception return (run failed), 1:07
Hilo — Donovan Kelley 27 pass from Sione Atuekaho (pass failed), 4:41
Wai — George Hanohano 11 pass from Bryce Felipe (Hanohano kick), 11:48
Hilo — Aven Kualii 24 run (Rayce Takayesu kick), 9:05
Hilo — Atuekaho 3 run (Takayesu kick), 3:25
Wai — Devin Preston 19 run (kick failed), 1:06