Samoa Bowl IX winner takes victory after 2nd overtime play
Bringing the competition between local and off-island young athletes during the Samoa Bowl IX to its culmination — on Saturday morning at the Veterans Stadium was the All Star Football Game of Hawai’i vs. American Samoa. After the high energy and performances delivered during the volleyball and baseball All Star games, it was expected — and the crowd was not disappointed — that the football game would deliver the same caliber of excitement and performances.
Officially opening the game was Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who advised all the players to become friends, “befriend one another, because I know very well that some of you will make it out to the big leagues, and you will see each other again, and remember this day when you became friends.”
He added,”Hawaii and California, thank you very much for being here for this Samoa Bowl, this last day of the year — “Ia manuia le taaloga”.
The game followed with American Samoa’s Destiny Vaeao sending the opening kick off that brought Hawaii to start their first offensive possession. The game was set up for 12 minutes per quarter.
American Samoa 34 - Hawaii 28
Hawai’i’s first offensive possession was a test drive with their offense down the field with Tamapua at quarterback, opening the game with a hand off out to Ta’avale Masalosalo, who was immediately met on the line of scrimmage by a host of locals, led by Vincent Ta’ala, and Mafua Tautalafua.
Hawaii, in trouble with their first offensive series of the game, sent off a high punt on fourth down, that spotted American Samoa’s first offensive possession of the game on Hawai’i’s 45-yard line.
Ricardo Gonzales led the local offense, sending Nathaniel Tuamoheloa with a sweep play on third down. It saw Tuamoheloa breaking two tackles and burning his boosters out to the sidelines, to see American Samoa’s first touchdown of the game, in their first offensive drive on third down with just 9:32 into the first quarter.
Hawaii bounced back on offense and played a threatening third down situation on their own 34-yard line with a third and long drive just coming off from a sack. Tamapua loaded it up in the third, and airs our a pass that was intended for Moe, but was intercepted by Lolagi Fa’aloua of American Samoa, who brought that back and spotted their first down situation on their own 25- yard line.
With just 3:04 remaining in the first quarter, American Samoa decides to come back on a fourth down situation on Hawai’i’s 13-yard line. In a threatening third down play that turned sour for the locals, a field goal attempt by Vaeao was no good.
2:19 still in the first, and Hawaii decides to play air raid again against American Samoa, as Hawai’i kept gaining yardage with the connection between Tamapua and Masalosalo. Then, striking the center of American Samoa’s defense, was Tamapua who found the open Toma Barret, but the pass was short, and as it almost hit the ground, Lolagi Fa’aloua of American Samoa came in and did one of the hardest interceptions to make — where he dug in, centimeters off the ground to keep it a live ball, and to record his second interception of the game in the first quarter.
The second TD of the game by American Samoa came from their first offensive possession after that pick by Fa’aloua. It was an option play between Gonzales and Pale Filoiali’i that went all the way down field to spot American Samoa’s first down situation on Hawai’i’s 15-yard line. Their first down play there was a quick pass out to Ryan Petaia, who scored American Samoa’s second touchdown of the game. The point after was good during a field goal conversion by Shalom Luani.
9:19 in the second quarter, a second down play by American Samoa on Hawai’i’s 13-yard line: Gonzales pitched the ball out to Fa’afouina Sitagata, who provided the perfect half back pass with a bullet pass through the middle that was caught in the end zone by Alapati Maloata, who recorded American Samoa’s third touchdown of the game, extending their lead to 21 - 0 after a field goal by Vaeao.
With 6:05 in the second quarter, American Samoa changes quarterback — Gabriel Collins —but his second play of the game, which featured a pass aired out to Petaia was short and picked off by Reed Salanoa of Hawai’i, who came back and spotted Hawai’i’s first down possession on their own 20. Hawai’i’s possession would lead to their first TD of the game.
It’s third down situation that saw Travis Tamapua execute a daring pass to Toma Barrett, who had double coverage, who received the sweet ball right between the two local defenders. Barrett then stormed down the sidelines to record Hawaii’s first touchdown of the game. Their field goal by Masalosalo was good, to bring Hawaii back trailing 21 - 7.
Still in the second quarter — 33 seconds remaining, Hawaii comes back on offense after American Samoa turned the ball over. On American Samoa’s 34-yard line, their second down play saw Tamapua airing out a bullet to the middle to find Barrett again who caught the ball and turned it up field for his second touchdown of the game just before half time. The field goal conversion by Masalosalo was good — which brought Hawaii closer with a 21 - 14 trail, heading into half time.
Half time entertainment saw Miss American Samoa, Skyline Nua, in beautiful traditional dress, dance the taualuga, with the Taupo Manaia dance group also performing.
In the third quarter — despite efforts by both teams, the score remains the same.
It’s in the fourth — that play becomes crucial — as it will take 2 overtimes to decide the winner of the game.
It’s 5:50 in the fourth, and Hawaii plays out a threatening third down situation on the 50- yard line, with Hawaii executing on a sweep play out to Martin Taulelei, who broke three tackles, and lost one of his shoes, on his way to the end zone, It’s Hawai’i’s third touchdown of the game, and the big TD that brought Hawaii back to tie the ball game at 21 - 21 after the field goal conversion by Masalosalo.
Game time expired in the fourth with both teams tied at 21 - 21, which took the game into the first ever Samoa Bowl Overtime.
Hawaii won the overtime coin toss and elected to play offense first. Playing out their four downs from American Samoa’s 20-yard line, Hawaii moves nto the red zone after a defensive holding penalty was called against American Samoa. This saw Hawaii with a threatening first down that featured Tamapua keeping the ball in to record another Hawaii touchdown. Their field goal by Masalosalo was good enough to send them up 21 - 28.
American Samoa replies: Starting from Hawai’i’s 20-yard line, our locals moved the ball up field with only three plays, and scored on a third and goal with an inside hand off to Vaeao. The field goal conversion by Vaeao was good to tie up the ball game again, as they moved into the second overtime of the game.
In second overtime, American Samoa is at offense to play from Hawaii’s 20-yard line in the first play. It’s a pitch play from Gonzales out to Luani, who rolled out with the option to pass, but he kept it, and jumped over a Hawai’i defender to land on his feet in the end zone to send American Samoa up 34 - 28. The field goal conversion by Vaeao was no good, which left American Samoa speechless as Hawaii was eager to come back on offense.
Hawaii now looking to pocket the game and take home victory with just a touchdown and a field goal, were totally disappointed, when their second play of the series saw an infraction between the center and the quarterback for Hawai’i, causing the ball to fumble, which ended up in the hands of Vincent Ta’ala of American Samoa, who officially closed off the game with American Samoa defeating Hawaii in Samoa Bowl IX with a 34 - 28 win.
In the Award’s ceremony that followed, Togiola and the First Lady graciously handed the awards to the players.
Awarded as the Offensive Player of this year’s Samoa Bowl was Hawai’i’s Toma Barrett, who scored the first two big touchdowns for Hawaii in the first half of the game.
The Defensive Player of the Game was Nu’uuli VocTech High School’s Mafua Tautalafua.
The Most Valuable Player of the Game was awarded to “Mr. Smooth” Ricardo Gonzales of the reigning 2011- 12 Champions, Fagaitua High School.