KEAAU — Kealakehe turned two Keaau second-half turnovers into touchdowns for a 21-12 win in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football showdown on Saturday.
Trailing 12-6 at the Cougars Stadium at halftime, Kaimi Wilson threw a 10-yard touchdown strike on a play-action pass out of the jumbo I formation, and Keanu Tilfas returned an interception 43 yards for a fourth-quarter score.
The Waveriders (1-1 overall, 1-0 BIIF Division I) couldn’t generate much of a ground game, outside of Dan Webber, who led the way with 63 yards on 17 carries. The other rushers carried 23 times for just 57 yards.
They struggled in the air, too. New quarterback Kaimi Wilson competed 6 of 12 passes for 26 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
The Cougars (0-1, 0-1), who didn’t play any preseason games and are coming off an 0-7 BIIF season, had trouble with their rushing attack, too. Justin Quesada charged forward for 22 yards on seven carries.
The home team had better aerial production, but not with much efficiency. Senior quarterback George Lucas-Tadeo, who spent last year playing ball in Texas, was 21 of 42 for 233 yards and two touchdowns and one interception.
Byron Cachola was his favorite target.
He caught eight passes for 108 yards, including a 45-yard scoring strike in the second quarter that tied the game 6-6.
Besides the two turnovers that were turned into touchdowns, the Cougars also were hurt by a half-dozen drops by their receivers.
Several of the throws were over 20 yards, costing Lucas-Tadeo close to 100 yards and Keaau several scoring opportunities.
The Cougars had great ball security in the first half with zero turnovers.
Then they had two giveaways in the second half, both recycled into touchdowns.
The Waveriders had three turnovers, including Keaau’s Baylen Guerrero pick that led to a Lucas-George 58-yard scoring strike to Quesada in the second quarter for a 12-6 lead.
Kealakehe 6 0 8 7 — 21
Keaau 0 12 0 0 — 12
Kealakehe — Kaimi Wilson 13 run (kick failed), 1:07
Keaau — Byron Cachola 45 pass from George Lucas-Tadeo (pass failed), 6:10
Keaau — Justin Quesada 58 pass from Lucas-Tadeo (run failed), 28.6
Kealakehe — Kaeho Kaakimaka 10 pass from Kaimi Wilson (Wilson run), 1:37
Kealakehe — Keanu Tilfas 43 interception return (Art Mench kick), 8:16