LIHUE – Turnovers continue to hurt the Kaua’i Red Raiders.
Despite shutting out the Waimea Menehunes for three straight quarters, a late fourth quarter interception by Menehune DB Cory Rita, which led to a 4-yard TD run by Jordon Dizon, ended the Raiders’ hopes of an upset as they fell 7-0 Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.
Kaua’i QB Kekoa Crowell, who completed 12 of 24 passes for 132 yards, was picked off by Rita on the Raiders’ own nine-yard line before the defensive back brought it to within four yards of the end-zone. Dizon, who rushed for 176 yards on 35 carries, ran it in from there to seal the surprisingly close-fought win for the Menehunes.
In a game many predicted would end in a high score, the Menehune and Raider defenses were able to keep each offense from reaching the goal line.
The two teams combined for 10 punts. The Raiders were stifled by three turnovers and two turnovers-on-downs. The Menehunes committed two fumbles and were stuffed on fourth down three times, including a missed 46-yard field goal which veered left of the post.
Each program would have liked to gain yardage in the weaker areas of their offenses. Kaua’i, a passing team, had 132 yards in the air but gained just 38 yards on the ground. The Menehunes, a running offense, gained 192 yards on the ground but threw for only 39 yards.
Penalties hurt the Red Raiders at the onset of the first quarter. Kevin Cadiente, who caught 4 passes for 46 yards, marched Kaua’i past the Menehune defense with two sizeable completions before an illegal procedure penalty ruined the drive and Kaua’i was forced to punt.
Dizon, who entered the game in the Menehunes second drive, had eight carries and 82 yards to put Waimea in position to score. But the Raider defense, as it did for the entire game, maintained its resilience. A clutch sack from Raider linebacker Ikaika Valmoja ended the Menehune’s opportunity to advance.
It wasn’t the last time the Menehunes would fail to score following a positive yardage. In the second quarter, a 42 yard drive was again stifled by the Raider defense, stemming from a sack by Raider lineman Arren Racca, who made a number of big stops in the game.
A Raider fumble on their ensuing possession offset an attractive 12-yard pass from Crowell to Cadiente, but a Waimea penalty in the waning moments of the half would save the Raiders from an early deficit.
This trend continued in the final two periods.
The Raiders’ first drive of the third quarter, which included a 39-yard reception by Rejis Canales, was marred by three turnovers and an interception by Menehune DB Dane Koga. But the Menehunes couldn’t capitalize, again stuffed by the Raiders for a turnover on downs.
Each defense continued to ruin offensive production, but things looked up for the Raiders after Kaupili Akau sacked Menehune QB Jon Palacio and forced yet another Waimea punt. But, moments later, the Raider party would end. Rita’s interception set up the only score of the game and another win for the undefeated Waimea Menehunes.