Nebraska QB Dylan Raiola, WR Carter Nelson connect in Polynesian Bowl win
Jan 19, 2024
In the final game of their high school careers, Dylan Raiola and Carter Nelson were building for the future.
Taking part in the Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu on Friday, Raiola and Nelson both turned in strong performances to help Team Makai overcome a 17-point deficit for a 28-17 win. A third Nebraska signee, offensive lineman Preston Taumua, took part in the game for Team Mauka.
Raiola, who started at quarterback, wasted no time getting to work with a quick 5-yard completion to the sidelines on his first play of the game. Raiola’s second drive started even better when Nelson broke free on a vertical route over the middle of the field and the incoming Huskers connected for a gain of over 30 yards.
With a large amount of rotation among players in the all-star game, Raiola spent several series on the sidelines while Nelson and Taumua stayed busy nearly all game long. Starting at left guard, Taumua displayed a good, strong base in pass protection while also using his 315-pound frame to bring physicality into the run game. Nelson also caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Ty McCutcheon, then later made a touchdown-saving tackle following an interception.
Four consecutive interceptions from Team Makai quarterbacks, including one from Raiola at the end of the second half, made for a 17-0 halftime score. However, that large deficit meant Raiola stayed on the field for the entire third quarter — and the turnaround was immediate.
Showcasing a smooth, effortless throwing motion in the pocket, Raiola first got his team on the board with a well-placed slant pass that hit his receiver in stride for a 40-yard passing touchdown. Then, following a takeaway, Raiola even showed a run-pass option look as he faked a quarterback keeper, instead slinging it out to Nelson for an 11-yard completion that set up a touchdown run. A defensive touchdown then capped off a 21-point third quarter which sealed a victory for Raiola and Nelson.
As an early enrollee, Raiola will now head to campus ahead of the spring semester beginning on Monday, while Nelson and Taumua will return to their respective high schools.