ALOHA - Aloha got the respect it wanted.
But it was Westview that pulled out the victory, rallying with two second-half touchdowns to earn a thrilling 14-13 victory Friday in the Metro League opener between previously unbeaten teams at Aloha High School.
The Wildcats (5-0, 1-0 Metro) came in averaging more than 40 points a game, but were shut down in the first half by the Warriors (4-1, 0-1), who gave up just 13 points in four non-league games.
Westview recovered in the second half, effectively using play-action to buy quarterback Josh Hill some time against a quick and aggressive Aloha defense. Hill tossed two touchdown passes in the second half and finished 14 of 22 for 164 yards.
'The first half wasn't the line or the receivers' fault; I was missing passes,' Hill said. 'We ran the same stuff in the second half and I started hitting. (Aloha's) real fast, real athletic and played hard. I was shocked. I give them props.'
Aloha's defense used its speed and pursuit to hold Westview to just three first downs and 57 total yards, including 12 on the ground, in the first half. But the Wildcats reversed their fortune after halftime, keeping the Warriors from advancing past midfield and limiting them to 91 yards and three first downs.
Westview also intercepted two passes and came up with a huge fourth down stop down 13-7 with 9 minutes, 34 seconds remaining. The Wildcats took over at their own 18-yard line and promptly marched down the field behind Hill, who went 5 for 5 for 71 yards on the drive.
He got some help from athletic receiver Andrew Jones, who adjusted to make a 37-yard reception. Two plays later, Hill faked a handoff then started to run before spotting receiver Brent Hubbard in the end zone for a sliding 9-yard touchdown reception. Josh Parshall's extra point gave a Westview a 14-13 lead with 6:33 remaining.
'I was looking for the first level, but they came up on me,' Hill said. 'I was surprised, so I went to the second level and he was there.'
Aloha went three and out on its next drive and later got the ball back, but at its own 10 after Parshall's 42-yard punt. Ben Shelton made a nice leaping grab in traffic for a 28-yard gain from quarterback Eric Whitley for the Warriors' only completion in the second half.
On fourth-and-6, Aloha was forced to go for it and Jones' interception all but sealed the Wildcats' victory.
'Our kids got a lot of attention,' Westview coach Jon Evans said referring to his team's No. 4 ranking. 'But the preseason doesn't matter and we came into a buzz nest. They were well prepared and had great intensity.'
The Wildcats countered with resiliency.
Westview went 44 yards on eight plays to take its first lead with 4:59 left in the third quarter. The drive started with a fumbled snap, but took off from there with Hill going 4 of 4 for 48 yards, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown to Andrew Jones. Hill lofted the pass to the right edge of the end zone and the 6-foot-1 Jones out-leapt the defender for the score.
'I had a little height advantage,' said Jones, who had five catches for 86 yards. '(Hill) threw it up, put it in a good position and I got it.'
Aloha's Trevor Rocklin blocked a punt and recovered it on the Westview 5 to set up the Warriors' first score. On the next play, Jude Graves eluded a tackler at the 7 and sprinted to the right pylon for a 5-yard touchdown with 3:56 left in the first quarter. But Dan Wells blocked the extra point for what proved to be the difference in the game.
Aloha went 59 yards on 11 plays to take a 13-0 lead when Ben Shelton took a backward screen pass from Whitley, cut upfield and sliced through the defense for a 9-yard touchdown with 7:05 left in the half.
'Hopefully we gained some respect,' Aloha coach Chris Casey said. 'We proved we're also a good football team. I can't fault the kids. They played their hearts out against a real good team.'