Waimea wins nailbiter

LIHUE – The Waimea Menehunes weren’t about to let this one end in a tie.

Waimea’s James Henriques blocked a punt in the end-zone and Andrew Becklund landed on it for the game winning touchdown to give the Menehunes a 21-16 win over the Kaua’i Red Raiders in a jayvee nailbiter Friday night in Lihue.

The Raiders (1-1-1) and Menehunes (2-0-1) tied when they met opening night at Hanapepe Stadium – this time was sweeter. After three lead changes in four quarters, the Raiders had one last opportunity to reach the end-zone and grab their second league victory. The Menehunes wouldn’t have it. With under 40 seconds in the game and with good field position, the Raiders fumbled and the Menehunes ran out the clock to seal the victory.

Menehune running back Luke Tsuchiya had another stellar rushing performance. He ran for 150 yards on 17 carries and scored one touchdown on Waimea’s first possession – a 76 yard blast to give the Menehunes an early lead.

Raider QB Max Hadwin, who completed 5 of 15 passes for 79 yards and ran for two touchdowns, responded on the next drive with a 1-yard TD run. Raider running back Niko Elvenia rushed for 40 yards and 8 carries on that drive. The nimble RB, who accounted for much of the Raider offensive production, ran for 162 yards on 17 carries.

Hadwin kept the Raider offense on fire. He completed a 41-yard beam to Tyler Bare, which set up a booming 41-yard field goal by Bennett Banach – the FG might have been a KIF junior varsity record.

The Raiders kept marching in the second half. A 20-yard pass from Hadwin to Chadwyn Lopez put Kaua’i within the red-zone. Hadwin took it from there. The sophomore scampered past the Menehune secondary for 15-yards and a 16-7 Red Raider lead.

Kaua’i mistakes kicked in towards the end of the third quarter, and they hurt. Waimea’s Eric Oroc picked off a Hadwin pass on the Raider’s own seven-yard line, setting up a one-yard TD scamper by Joseph Mecham. And in the fourth, Kaua’i’s blocked punt and its fumble in the waning moments ended their hopes of winning at home.

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