Tolupo Falaniko

Jackson Loveless award winner Tolupo Falaniko returns an interception for a touchdown

HOUSTON — The Houston Hawks dismantled their Valley Division 3 rival Redington Huskies 40-8 on Friday night, despite a torrential downpour on Terry Shurtleff Field in the first half.

The Hawks were playing for more than just a win over their Valley foes. The Hawks were also playing for their first undefeated regular season in school history, the Pink Bowl, and for the memory of Jackson Loveless. Loveless was a team manager for the Hawks who died in 2017.

“He was a part of our team and we think he helped us be a team and we wanted to make sure we brought that back,” said Hawks head coach Glenn Nelson.

The Jackson Loveless award was presented after the game by Loveless’ parents to Tolupo Falaniko. During the win, Falaniko started the game with a flash. Due to injury, Redington senior Javon Pau has had to step into the role of starting quarterback. On Redington’s first drive of the game against undefeated Houston, Falaniko intercepted Pau and ran the ball in for a touchdown.

“This game meant more than just a win, it’s about Jackson,” said senior running back Owen Mulhaney.

Mulhaney led the Hawks to the offensive onslaught on their home turf against Redington with two touchdowns from more than 40 yards out. Mulhaney finished with 160 yards on 10 rushes, a game high.

“Our line is unbelievable. They block their hearts out and our coaches, they believe in us no matter what so that’s what keeps us going and pushing us hard,” said Mulhaney. “We’ve got two more weeks. We’re going to beat Eielson in the playoffs and go ahead to state and win that. We’re confident.”

Houston wasn’t the only talented football team on the field on Friday, and Redington has enjoyed some success of their own this season. The Huskies jumped on a muffed punt return and took it back to the Houston 33-yard-line with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter, but were unable to score. As late fall rains fell in sheets on the field, players had very little luck passing the ball and only slightly better luck in attempting to run the ball. Redington recovered a Houston fumble late in the first half, but were again unable to score. Houston added onto their lead with a 37-yard run from Tucker Croghan early in the second quarter. Jeremiah Barrett jumped on a fumbled punt attempt in the end zone to increase the Hawk lead to 19-0. As the Hawks and Huskies went into halftime, many of the fans who had packed the stands at Terry Shurtleff field left due to the high winds and rain.

As the rain subsided midway through the third quarter, teams were able to secure and move the ball and play competitive football. Houston recovered two Redington fumbles early in the second half and made the Huskies pay. After Mulhaney ran in the first of his two touchdowns on the day from 43 yards out, the Huskies came back to life. Jaden Spaulding intercepted Houston quarterback Gavin Mulhaney and on the ensuing drive scampered into the end zone from 15 yards out. The handful of Redington fans that were still in the stands erupted into hysteria when Pau hit eligible offensive linemen Isaac Carlson-Hamo for the two-point conversion. Following the touchdown and electrifying two-point conversion, Redington recovered their own onside kick with 3:57 left to play in the third quarter.

“Redington took a large step forward this year,” said Nelson. “They’ve got a young roster still. Their quarterback comes back. They’re going to be dangerous next year.”

As has been the case every time these two teams matched up on the gridiron, Houston ended up victorious. Owen Mulhaney ran in another long touchdown early in the fourth quarter and scored the two-point conversion as well, just for good measure. Apete Sasiu added a 27 yard touchdown run with 3:17 left in the game to seal it for the Hawks. Senior kicker Denali Whitted was 2-4 on PAT’s.

“Last year we had pretty much the same team it’s not just that they’re older but there’s some leadership and now they’re playing as a team,” said Nelson.

Members of each team wore pink cleats, gloves, and towels in honor of breast cancer awareness. The Hawks and Huskies have made their matchup the Pink Bowl each of the three years that they have played due to members of the football community that suffer from Breast Cancer. After the game, the Loveless family that had flown up to be with the team and present Falaniko with the award in their son’s honor. The Hawks set off fireworks, a fitting finale to their first undefeated season.

Houston 40, Redington 8.

Friday, Terry Shurtleff Field, Houston High School.

First Quarter

Houston — Falaniko 59 yd interception return (Whitted kick) 9:20.

Second Quarter

Houston — Croghan 37 yd run (2pt failed) 9:34.

Houston — Barrett fumble recovery (kick failed) 6:15.

Third Quarter

Houston — Mulhaney 43 yd run (kick failed) 9:09.

Redington — Spaulding 15 run (Pau to Carlson-Hamo 2pt) 3:57.

Fourth Quarter

Houston — Mulhaney 44 yd run (Mulhaney 2pt) 10:25.

Houston — Sasiu 27 run (Whitted kick) 3:17

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Houston; Owen Mulhaney 10-160, Gavin Mulhaney 7-3, Fono 4-11, Croghan 1-37, Sasiu 1-39. Redington; Spaulding 26-124, Pau 15-0, Pinard 1-2, Holsapple 1- -4, Williams 1- -2.

Passing: Houston; Gavin Mulhaney 0-2-0-1-0. Redington; Pau 4-16-41-1-0.

Receiving: Houston; none. Redington: Williams 1-3, Holsapple 2-23, Spaulding 1- -2.

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