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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

HAWAII QUARTERBACKS

Last week I bragged about how well Hawaii-born quarterbacks were doing in college and pro football.  After all, Marcus Mariota (St. Louis High School) finally took the Tennessee Titans to a playoff game.  Plus, McKenzie Milton (Mililani High School) led the Central Florida University Knights over Auburn, a team that this year had beaten Alabama and Georgia, the two teams that last night played for the College Football National Championship.

Then I worried that this kind of crowing manytimes jinxes future performance.  Surely enough, the underdog Titans looked hopeless to the Kansas City Chiefs at halftime, falling behind 21-3. But then, Mariota engineered a comeback that could well have been the greatest ever for a playoff, for his...:

...signature play altered the course of the game and perhaps the two franchises. Mariota rolled left on a third-and-goal from which Tennessee desperately needed points, pump faked, fired a bullet toward rookie receiver Corey Davis, had it deflected, and due to Mariota getting pushed after the throw by Chiefs linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, was in perfect position to catch the deflection.

All he did was somehow catch his own pass and athletically leap into the end-zone.  He threw another touchdown pass and provided a key block for Derrick Henry, who said:

"He can run. He can pass. He can block," Henry said of Mariota. "He can catch, too."

Tennessee might need another couple of miracles to beat the New England Patriots and Tom Brady (right) this weekend, but maybe they'll yet be a Chapter 3 to this series.  The Titans are 13.5 point underdogs.

The most unexpected accomplishment, though, occurred at the Alabama-Georgia championship game last night.  Well, President Donald Trump showing up and walking on to the field for the National Anthem, was expected, although both teams remained in their locker rooms.  He did not hint that he was a super athlete.

Georgia zoomed ahead to a 13-0 lead at halftime.  The regular Alabama quarter, Jalen Hurts, had previously taken Alabama to a 25-2 two-year record, but just could not mount anything in the first half.  So, coach Nick Saban made a decision to start Tua Tagovailoa, a true freshman quarterback who graduated from the same St. Louis High School as Marcus Mariota.  While Tua had appeared in a few scattered moments all year just to gain some game experience, this was the first time he played in college when it mattered.

All he did was take Alabama to a 20-20 tie as the regular game ended.  Georgia made a field goal in overtime, and the first play saw Tagovailoa sacked for 16 yards.  He then calmly threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to another freshman, de'Vonta Smith for the championship.  The team's leading rusher, Najee Harris, was Alabama's leading rusher, and Henry Ruggs III caught another of Tagovailoa's TD passes.  All are freshman.  Alabama will be around for a while.

There must something illegal going on, but Tua's parents moved to Alabama, taking with them the younger brother, Taulia (right), who led his new high school team in Alabama to an undefeated regular season.  He has one more year of high school.  Want to guess which school signs him?


The two most memorable quarterbacks in college football this year, thus came from Hawaii.  If Mariota helps Tennessee win the Super Bowl, add another Hawaii QB to the list of Hawaii champions.  Then, if the latest St. Louis High School QB, Chevan Cordeiro (left), player of the year in the state, takes the University of Hawaii to the next College Championship game next year or anytime thereafter against McKenzie Milton or Tua Tagovailoa or Taulia Tagovoiloa, that, indeed would be something.

Yes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke its all-time high up 103 to 25,386.
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