Published Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 | 11:11 p.m.
Updated Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 | 1:27 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer take a look around the Las Vegas high school football scene. They give their picks for the upcoming week and discuss the merits of eating orange wedges on long gameday road trips.
On the first play from scrimmage, Kai Nacua faked a handoff to running back Niko Kapeli. Basic’s defense collapsed the line of scrimmage, leaving Liberty tight end Jared Tuilagi wide open for a 48-yard touchdown reception.
“We figured they saw our game last week running 30 straight times,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “We hoped they would stack the line and we got lucky that he was wide open for the touchdown.”
Liberty’s touchdown on the first play of the game set the tone for what would be a long night for the Wolves defense.
After Liberty forced Basic to go three-and-out on its opening possession of the game, Nacua scored on a quarterback sneak from a yard out on fourth-and-goal to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
Basic sophomore kick returner Antraye Johnson got the Wolves on the scoreboard with an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.
Liberty, however, took control of the game in the second quarter, scoring four touchdowns.
Liberty senior fullback Jordan Kapeli scored on a 2-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 21-7 advantage. Dustin Kaanaana’s interception and return deep into Basic territory helped set up the score.
Niko Kapeli scored his first touchdown of the evening on a 17-yard run with 6:27 left in the second quarter to hand the Patriots a 28-13 lead.
“He’s a beast for us,” Muraco said. “A kid that can carry the ball over 30 times and go over 200 yards is a special back. He doesn’t shy away from contact, and he’s able to break some longer runs. He’s a great player.”
On Basic’s ensuing possession, Nacua showed himself a two-way threat as he intercepted a Vega pass attempt.
“That was the best feeling I’ve had all season,” Nacua said. “Throwing a touchdown and coming back on defense and making a pick.”
Moments later, Nacua threw a 15-yard scoring strike to senior tight end Kimo Seau to extend the Liberty lead to 35-13.
Nacua’s first half was far from done.
On Liberty’s final drive of the half, Nacua meticulously picked apart the Basic defense in a pro-style 2-minute drill capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Lagasca with 24 seconds remaining.
Nacua completed 12 of 15 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns in the half. He finished the game with 208 passing yards, as Liberty decided to emphasize the running game in the second half.
In the fourth quarter, both of the Kapeli brothers reached the end zone for the second time.
Niko Kapeli finished with more than 200 yards rushing for the third consecutive game, as the junior rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
“The linemen and my brother were blocking great, opening up big holes for me,” he said. “It was great blocking from everyone.”
Jordan Kapeli had 23 yards rushing and two touchdowns on six attempts.
With the win, Liberty improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Patriots host Green Valley next Friday in a battle for first place in the Southeast Division.
Like the Patriots, the Gators improved to 5-1 overall and remained 3-0 in league play with a 41-22 victory over non-conference foe Virgin Valley on Thursday.