Saturday continued this week’s trend of wild games and unexpected outcomes as even more college football powers fell, plus more free baseball with some extra innings in the playoffs. After Arizona knocked off second-ranked Oregon on Thursday for what was the upset of the season to that point, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas A&M followed suit by each falling for the first time. Those four were in the mix and perhaps the four most likely teams to reach this season’s national championship playoff. Now they all have a major blemish and have opened the door for about a dozen more teams to throw their hats into the ring.
The upset-minded Kauai Red Raiders took on the KIF’s best team to this point and were hoping to continue the underdog trend. This time it was the favorite holding serve. Kapaa took control of the game from the very beginning and an early interception set up a short touchdown run less than two minutes into the game. It was all Warriors from there as they built upon that lead and dominated every phase of the game – offense, defense and certainly special teams – on their way to a 34-6 win and a 4-0 record in the KIF.
The Raiders (2-2) had a chance to even things up in the standings, but Kapaa’s magic number for a KIF title is now down to one. Just one more victory or one more loss for Kauai High will result in Kapaa winning just its second conference championship since 1989. Their dominance to this point will certainly put the Warriors in the conversation for a top-two seed and a first-round bye once the HHSAA Division II state tournament rolls around.
As a seven-point underdog themselves, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (1-4) went deep into the heart of Texas to take on Rice (2-3) and looked for a while like they might pull off the upset. But after holding a 14-7 second-half lead, Hawaii saw Rice come up with the crucial plays to come back for a 28-14 win and send UH to its fourth loss of the season. The final five possessions of the game for Hawaii resulted in a fumble, three quick punts and a turnover on downs. The biggest play came late in the fourth with the ‘Bows down 21-14 and driving into Owl territory. Rice broke up a 4th and 2 pass play with just over four minutes remaining to take possession and salt away the victory, adding a late touchdown to create the final margin.
While our state may not have gotten into the whole upset phenomenon, it can be relocated by crossing international waters. Heading all the way to Europe, the underdogs had plenty of mojo at the Quiksilver Pro France, which got halfway through the quarterfinals on Saturday. The story of the event thus far has been Oahu’s John John Florence, who has come on toward the end of the World Championship Tour season and announced himself as the heir apparent we’ve known he could be.
Florence had made the semifinals in the past two tour events and made it three straight Saturday with a win over fellow phenom Kolohe Andino in the quarters. He had a slick layback and a finishing air reverse for a 9.00 in that heat, but it was his previous effort that became the talk of the day. John John faced off with Mick Fanning in round five and ripped everything that came through the lineup. He took off on seven waves and received at least a 7.00 on all of them, but he was virtually unbeatable with his top two tube rides. He sniffed perfection with a 9.90 on one and then finished his heat by reaching that perfect 10 number for a 19.90 total to knock off the three-time world champion.
His opponent in the semis will be Josh Kerr, who pulled off the upset of the event. The Aussie was able to top current world No. 1 Gabriel Medina in the quarters, opening the door for Kelly Slater to get back in the world title mix. Slater, who entered France ranked second but trailing Medina by 6,500 points, was set to take on South Africa’s Jordy Smith in the quarters when action resumed. Brazilians Miguel Pupo and Jadson Andre comprised the other quarterfinal heat.
Oh, and the Kansas City Royals are up 2-0 on the L.A. Angels (baseball’s best team) after winning three straight extra-inning games, the St. Louis Cardinals crushed Clayton Kershaw (baseball’s best pitcher) in their Game 1 win over the L.A. Dodgers and I think the Giants and Nationals are still playing Game 2. Just this week’s friendly reminder: That’s why they play the games.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.