LIHUE — Quarterback Makoa Filikitonga-Lukea scored on a QB sneak with 15 seconds left on the game clock to secure an 18-16 preseason win for Lahainaluna, of Maui, over Kapaa on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium.
Minutes before scoring the touchdown, the Lunas offense was forced to go on fourth down just outside of the red zone.
Kapaa then was flagged for encroachment to give Lahainaluna a new set of downs. Soon after, the Warriors were given another penalty for 15 yards before the Lunas scored the game-winner.
“The penalties cost us … You cannot make those mistakes, especially after we played our hearts out,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo. “We got to fix that. We got to stop making bonehead plays. Late hits, that kind of stuff.
“I feel like we gave the game away. Not taking anything away from Lahainaluna … But if we don’t make those penalties, we had a good chance to win the game,” he added.
Warriors senior linebacker Brooks Bethel said mental mistakes and letting emotions take over led to errors down the stretch.
“When we were executing, we were doing really well. But as soon as we started getting flagged, it just screwed us up mentally and it went downhill from that,” Bethel said. “We still got a long way to go, but we’ll get there.
“It’s a great lesson. I’m glad it happened in preseason rather than in the actual season. Now we can learn, finish drills at practice and not take things so lightly,” the linebacker added.
Filikitonga-Lukea scored three touchdowns for the Lunas — two on the ground and one through the air.
Rapozo called the Lunas quarterback “explosive.”
“We tried to contain him. You’re not going to shut him out. He’s going to get some plays,” the Warriors coach said. “We had some plays … I think we did a good job against him. Just the penalties (at the end).”
Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said his team was fortunate to capitalize on Kapaa’s mistakes toward the end and was impressed by the Warriors’ play on the field.
“We got lucky. We got a chance to take advantage of their penalties, but if it wasn’t for that, it would be a totally different end result,” Tihada said. “We tried a lot. We saw some things that we could take advantage of, but they quickly closed the gap and made a lot of plays that a lot of other teams wouldn’t have made.”
Tihada added the main aspect of his team’s win was its never-say-die attitude.
“This is a very, very good Kapaa team. They gave us multiple opportunities for us to just fold, say that they’re better than us and just call it a night,” the Lunas coach said. “Our kids, they kept battling. That is the one (thing) that we had control over.”
Kapaa’s offense found success in its running game and was able to move the chains. Seniors, quarterback Rudy Agoot and running back Elijah Gouveia-McCarthy, both scored rushing TDs.
Gouveia-McCarthy found pay dirt late in the fourth quarter to give Kapaa a 16-12 lead.
“Towards the middle (of the game), we picked it up,” Agoot said. “(We need) to follow through on everything we do — in practice, in everything.
Kapaa begins its Kauai Interscholastic Federation season against Waimea on Friday, Aug. 29 at Hanapepe Stadium.
“We just got to reflect on the good things we did tonight. The execution was good. We just got to fix little things,” Rapozo said. “We got to finish. That’s what we didn’t do tonight. We got to work harder and be disciplined … We were right there. We just couldn’t finish it.”