Seabury Hall overcame a fourth quarter deficit, home field advantage and a determined Molokai team to beat the Farmers on Saturday in the final home game of the season 20-19.
The two teams have proven they are closely matched. Over two games, Molokai has lost by a total of 4 points. At War Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14 the Spartans won 23-20. With the victory, Seabury clinches the Maui Interscholastic League eight-man football title.
“You’ve got to hand it to Seabury,” said Molokai Head Coach Mike Kahale. “They came into our house and played tough.”
From the beginning it was clear that this would be the most competitive game in the MIL this season. Both Molokai and Seabury had blown out their other MIL opponents, St. Anthony and Hana, setting up this showdown in Ho’olehua.
Although neither team scored in the opening quarter, four players went down with injuries (all minor), testifying to the hard-hitting nature of the game. Molokai controlled the ground behind the running of junior Noah Caparida while Seabury showed they could move the ball through the air.
After a first down run, Caparida did earn a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the opening quarter. A Spartan player gave Caparida a late hit and he responded with a shove. The penalty stalled a Farmer drive in Seabury territory and would prove to be even more costly later.
Seabury quarterback Jaxson Stinger opened the scoring with a keeper up the middle. The Farmers responded on their next possession with a 13-yard run by Caparida. A missed two-point conversion left the score 7-6 Spartans.
Molokai would take the lead on its last possession of the first half with a 20-yard run by Caparida. As with most of Caparida’s runs, this touchdown showed Caparida’s exceptional ability to quickly change direction and leave tacklers in his wake. After the score, Caparida was ejected from the game for receiving a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Coach Kahale spoke to the officials during halftime and was told the penalty was for excessive celebration after the touchdown. “You can’t do this to us,” Kahale said in protest. “I just did,” said the lead official, and the discussion was over.
Even with the best player on the field sitting on the sidelines, Molokai was able to increase its lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sheyden Kaholoaa to David Pascua-Kahookano.
Down 19-7, the Spartans pulled out a flea flicker pass to score just before the end of the third quarter to decrease the Molokai lead to 19-14.
With six minutes left, Molokai was threatening to put the game away but the Spartans intercepted a pass on their own goal line and ran it out to the 25 yard line. On the next play, Seabury connected on a 75-yard pass play for the game-winning touchdown.
Molokai, with a 4-2 record, closes the season Thursday evening against St. Anthony at War Memorial Stadium.