LIHU‘E — For the first 45 minutes, the Kapa‘a Warrior offense carried the defense. In the last three, it was the offense that stalled after the defense came up big.
The Warriors’ last-minute offensive bid fell just short Saturday night against the Mt. Douglas Rams, falling 34-31, at Vidhina Stadium in Kapa‘a’s final preseason game.
“We just couldn’t get our assignments right tonight,” Kapa‘a head coach Keli‘i Morgado said. “Every time we tried to fix them or adjust, they would adjust. That’s a good football team.”
After trailing the whole game, the Warriors were finally in a position to gain the lead late in the fourth quarter. The Warrior defense stopped the Rams on a fourth down conversion attempt and the Warriors got the ball back with 1:44 remaining in the game on their own 24-yard line.
After a couple of clutch passes from Kapa‘a quarterback John Das moved the Warriors to mid-field, the offense — after routinely converting all game — finally ran into a wall.
Following a spike to stop the clock, Das threw a ball into the waiting hands of a Ram defender to end the game. It was Das’ second interception of the game.
Although his quarterback couldn’t come through on the final play of the game, Morgado said he saw drastic improvements from Das since last week.
“He’s got a lot more confidence with throwing the ball,” Morgado said. “He has a lot of playmaking ability with his legs. Today he showed he’s beginning to trust his arm more.”
Das threw for 146 yards with one finding the endzone and added 50 yards and a score on the ground. Kapa‘a’s other quarterback, Daniel Reis, didn’t play in the game due to a sprained ankle.
In the first half, the Warriors couldn’t find a way to stop the Rams’ offense.
The Rams dominated the Warrior defense in a variety of fashions. Their first scoring drive wore down the Kapa‘a defense with a mixture of option runs and screen passes. That first drive, capped by Jordan Deverill touchdown pass to a diving receiver, nearly ate up nine minutes on the clock.
Then the Rams showed they could score quick, too. In the second half, the Rams scored the first time they touched the ball on two consecutive possessions. The first was a 60-yard touchdown run from Terrell Davis. The second was a seven yard TD throw from Deverill following a Das interception.
The Kapa‘a offense matched the Rams blow for blow throughout most of the game, but there was one big difference: the point after attempt.
While the Rams were able to convert, the Warriors failed on three PATs. That’s three points that would have tied the game, said Morgado.
“We had trouble with the snap and hold today,” he said. “Ironically that’s the one thing we work on every day at practice. Last week we had protection problems, this week it was the hold.”
A big positive for the Warriors was the continued emergence of running back Syndrick D’Sio.
The Kapa‘a running back amassed 150 yards on the ground while making three trips to the endzone.
“He’s getting better every week for us,” Morgado said. “He’s really learning his role and fighting for those yards.”
Morgado was also happy with the play from his receivers, with Jordan Cummings and Reece Hicks-Westel coming up with some big grabs.
Both teams had to work with short rosters. The Rams only brought 22 players with them from Victoria, British Colombia.
The Warriors seemed to have a lot more guys, but many of the players on the sidelines for Kapa‘a were JV players. Morgado said 13 Warriors missed the game with injury.
The Warriors have a bye this coming week as Waimea and Kaua‘i open up KIF play, giving the Kapa‘a boys a chance to rest and heal up.
And despite the outcome of Saturday night’s game, Morgado was ultimately pleased with the fight and resolve he saw out of his team.
“You know I’m actually comfortable with this one, because we didn’t play that well against a good team, but we still fought back,” he said. “We fell pretty far behind but we didn’t fold.”