For the second straight year, Team Kai took down Team Aina in the 2023 edition of the Hula Bowl, claiming victory by a final score of 16-13 on Saturday afternoon in Orlando, Florida.
Around 200 scouts from the professional ranks were in attendance at today’s game, with confirmed representatives from the NFL, CFL, USFL, XFL and European League of Football, amongst other leagues.
The game was played using an NFL ruleset, with no punt returns.
It was Team Kai who found their way to the scoreboard first, with a short field goal from NC State’s Christopher Dunning giving the team in white the first lead of the game at 3-0 with 5:03 remaining in the second quarter. Team Aina responded with a receiving touchdown from Kansas State QB Adrian Martinez to Fordham WR Ryan Miller to push the score to 7-3 Aina lead just before the halftime break.
UCLA TE Michael Azieke broke a scoreless effort from both sides with 14 seconds left in the third quarter with a 20-yard receiving score from the hands of ECU QB Holton Ahlers to give Team Kai the lead back at 10-7 after engineering a nine-minute scoring drive. Team Aina responded immediately, with Fordham QB Tim DeMorat fooling the defense to find UAB WR Trea Shropshire on the play-action boot for a 75-yard score to go back up 14-10 at the end of the third quarter.
Team Kai would rally from there, with two field goals from short range to take home the victory in the fourth quarter.
Toledo had both of the MAC’s representatives in the Hula Bowl, with former tight end Jamal Turner and former linebacker Dyontae Johnson both seeing the field over most of the first half.
Turner finished the game with just one reception for no gain, but had another target in the endzone in the second quarter which was broken up by Rutgers safety Avery Young. On the one reception, Turner ran a drag route on a tight end screen, getting back to the line of scrimmage after receiving the ball two yards short, fighting through contact to do so and get out of bounds. Turner saw a lot of action in the first half, primarily as a blocker, in the flex tight end position.
Johnson finished with two tackles on the day, including a half-tackle-for-loss. Johnson saw a lot of play in the first half, mixing it up both as a speed rusher and in coverage while on the field. Johnson’s highlight play was assisting on a 10-yard tackle-for-loss in the second quarter, beating his man to get into the backfield and run down Louisville WR Tyler Hudson on a botched double reverse play. Johnson also had a solo open-field tackle for no gain called back on an offensive holding call.
Both Turner and Johnson will now prepare for the private workout portion of the draft season in anticipation of the NFL Draft and other professional league tryouts.