Hope returns for Kahuku after Taulogo’s run
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM Kahuku's Waika Carvalho tried to get past Saint Louis' Dylan
Moss in the first quarter of last night's game at Aloha Stadium.
The senior runs back a punt to the 3-yard line to set up the Red Raiders' winning touchdown
All Toriano Taulogo needed was one chance.
Things couldn't have been much more grim for Taulogo's Kahuku Red Raiders as the seconds ticked off the clock in the First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Football Championship game at Aloha Stadium.
On the mauka side of the stadium, Saint Louis was warming up its celebration as the Crusaders protected a 26-21 lead with less than a minute left in the contest.
Meanwhile, all Kahuku's red-clad army of supporters from the North Shore could do was hope for a miracle.
Taulogo was the answer to their prayers.
The senior defensive back fielded a low punt from Saint Louis' C.J. Santiago and found a wall of blockers up the right side of the field. When he was finally dragged down at the Saint Louis 3 with 23 seconds left it was the makai side of Aloha Stadium that shook.
"It was my blockers -- they made the wall and I just took off down the sideline," Taulogo said. "I trust my wall."
One play later, Darren Magalogo ran in the winning touchdown off the left side of Kahuku's offensive line and gave the Red Raiders the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The Red Raiders had run effectively behind the left side of their line all night and sent Magalogo behind Jeremy Perry and Desmond Enesa and into the end zone.
"(The offensive line) did their job," Magalogo said.
The Red Raiders couldn't party in earnest until after Santiago's second attempt at a game-winning field goal, a 40-yarder that drifted wide right as time expired, preserving Kahuku's 27-26 win in the most thrilling state title game in the five-year history of the event.
"The first time when I saw he was short, my heart was beating so fast and then we had to experience the whole thing all over again," Magalogo said.
On defense, Taulogo (5-foot-10, 167 pounds) had the task of guarding 6-foot-5 Saint Louis receiver Desmond Hanohano for much of the game.
Hanohano finished with six catches for 116 yards, but Taulogo came up with the big plays that mattered.
"At halftime I had to tell my teammates that we were going to need a Red Raider second half," Taulogo said.
"The guy made a ton of great plays," Saint Louis coach Darnell Arceneaux said.
Taulogo finished with eight solo tackles, including a sack. He also intercepted a pass that helped fuel Kahuku's comeback from a 23-7 deficit in the third quarter and broke up another.
But it looked like his efforts would be in vain until his punt return electrified the stadium and sent the Red Raiders to their third state championship in the last four years and dethroned the Crusaders.
"We knew we had a chance to win even though we were behind," Taulogo said. "We wanted to show everybody we could keep up with them. You can never give up."