Big 2nd half pushes Roosevelt above Kaimuki for OIA Division II football title

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 4, 2023

MILILANI — The Roosevelt Rough Riders claimed their first OIA Division II football title since 2018, taking down the Kaimuki Bulldogs at Mililani High School Friday night, 34-22. 

The Rough Riders got out of the gates slowly, started to warm up just before halftime and sped out of the gates and through the 2nd half, dominating the final two-plus quarters of play to come back from a double-digit 1st half deficit for a double-digit win. 

Kaimuki’s Iosefa Letuli connected with favorite target Jeremiah White for a 30-yard TD catch to open the games scoring midway through the first quarter, giving the Bulldogs the lead, 7-0. 

Roosevelt answered on the next possession with a 22-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 Bulldogs’ lead after one quarter of play. The teams traded defensive stops before Kaimuki’s Niutupuivaha Uluave broke free for a 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown to push the Kaimuki advantage into double-digits. 

The Rough Riders’ offense, struggling to produce as QB Ioane Kamanao fought through (and played with) a multitude of injuries, started to gain momentum just before the half as the sophomore signal-caller got to the edge and finished the play at the pylon with 12 ticks remaining on the 1st half clock to cut the Roosevelt deficit to four, 14-10. 

Roosevelt saw that growing momentum continue into the 2nd half as Kamanao connected with Jahsiah Souza-Armstead on a six-yard TD completion to give the Rough Riders their first lead of the night less than three minutes into the 3rd quarter. 

Roosevelt’s lead increased to 10 points quickly after with Kamanao’s third TD of the night and second TD pass of the quarter, needing just one play to capitalize on a Kaimuki fumble inside Bulldogs’ territory with a 30-yard TD reception by Taimane Souza-Foutanu making the score 24-14 in favor of the Rough Riders. 

Roosevelt chipped on another three points just before the end of the quarter, connecting on a 33-yard field goal to make it 27-14 with 12 minutes left to play. 

Kaimuki looked like they would finally end the scoring drought on the first drive of the final quarter, pushing all the way down to the Roosevelt 1-yard line before being stonewalled and turning the ball over on downs. It became even tougher sledding for the Bulldogs just a few plays later when the Rough Riders’ Souza-Armstead got behind the defense and dashed 97 yards for his second score of the evening to make it a 20-point game. 

The Bulldogs were able to break the scoring drought on the drive right after as Letuli punched in a one-yard TD rush with five minutes left, making it a 12-point game. Kaimuki would force a punt on the ensuing Roosevelt possession and work deep into Rough Riders’ territory before the drive stalled and a last-ditch Bulldogs’ comeback effort would fall short. 

Kaimuki’s Iosefa Letuli finished the night 16-for-31 passing the ball for 131 yards, accounting for three total TDs and one interception in the loss for the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-5 quarterback also finished as the leading rusher in the game, totaling 143 yards on the ground. Kaimuki will face off against PAC-5 next Friday, November 10 at Roosevelt HS in the HHSAA Division II state tournament quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. HT. 

Roosevelt shook off a slow start and turned it up on offense as Kamanao shook off injury to finish the night 12-for-20 passing the ball, totaling 259 yards and four total TDs (3 pass, 1 rush) to help lead the Rough Riders to the program’s first OIA title in five years. Roosevelt hosts KS-Hawaii next Friday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m. for a spot in the state semifinals against #1 Waimea.

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