Kahuku squeezes by Saint Louis in thriller
In the most fantastic finish in the 30-year Prep Bowl/state football championship history, Kahuku shocked Saint Louis, 27-26, last night at Aloha Stadium on Darren Magalolo's 3-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining.
Magalolo's game-winning touchdown was set up by Tori Taulogo's 62-yard punt return that gave the Red Raiders first and goal on the 3 with 22 seconds left and no times out left.
Saint Louis had a chance to win it on C.J. Santiago's 40-yard field goal attempt as time expired. His kick had the distance but was wide right. It was his second attempt at a winning field goal, after a roughing the kicker penalty on his 55-yard attempt.
Many of Kahuku's red-clad fans in the Aloha Stadium crowd of 15,061 stormed the field after both of Santiago's attempts.
"It was good to the last second," Red Raiders coach Siuaki Livai said of the game of the ages. "The fans couldn't ask for a better game."
Or a better finish.
Even after the Red Raiders took the lead, Kahuku (14-0) gave defending state champion Saint Louis (9-2) opportunities to pull out a victory.
The Red Raiders were penalized for being offsides on the ensuing kickoff. Then they committed a 15-yard late-hit penalty, moving the ball from the Saint Louis 47 to the Kahuku 38 with seconds left, giving Santiago his first opportunity.
His 55-yarder was short, but was Kahuku was called for roughing the kicker, moving the ball to Kahuku's 23.
But Santiago, who made four field goals last night, couldn't convert the fifth.
"We never doubted ourselves; we knew we could come back," Magalolo said. "It was the first time we were down by so much (23-7 in the third quarter), but our coaches just told us to play Kahuku football, and that's what we did."
Kahuku came out blazing, marching 62 yards in seven plays (all running) on the game's opening drive, culminating in Paea Vaimoui's 11-yard touchdown scamper. But turnovers continued to be the bane of the Red Raiders' existence.
They fumbled on fourth down on their next drive, and Saint Louis answered with a five-play, 64-yard drive, ending in Shaun Kauleinamoku's 5-yard TD run on a wide receiver handoff. C.J. Santiago's extra point tied the score at 7-7.
Santiago kicked a 37-yard field goal to put the Crusaders up 10-7 with 8:03 remaining in the half, and he made it 13-7 four minutes later on a 26-yard field goal set up by Dylan Moss' fumble recovery at midfield.
Kahuku lost another fumble four plays later and Saint Louis converted it into a 36-yard field goal by Santiago to go up 16-7 with 1:39 left.
After the teams traded interceptions, the Red Raiders went 62 yards in three plays and had first-and-goal at the 4. But Vaimoui was held to a 1-yard gain, quarterback Waika Carvalho was sacked by Tani Nahalea for an 11-yard loss and spiked the ball on third down. A pass into the end zone on fourth down fell incomplete with six seconds remaining.
Kahuku outgained the Saints 168 yards to 137 in the first half, but completed only 2 of 11 passes and was stalled by the three fumbles (two lost) and one interception.
The Crusaders went up 23-7 on Wyatt Williams' 1-yard touchdown run with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter, but Kahuku stormed back with touchdown runs by Magalolo (13 yards) and Dustin Huddy (2 yards), the second one closing the gap to 23-21 with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Santiago stretched the lead to 26-21 with a 34-yard field goal with 5:40 remaining in the game.
Taulogo, who set up Huddy's touchdown with an interception, was injured with a stinger earlier in the game and suffered a mild concussion on the final play. He lay on the field in exhaustion as his teammates and fans raced wildly across the turf.
"We all have so much school spirit in Kahuku," Magololo said. "In practice, our coaches tell us it's not only our bodies we're representing, it's the community's."
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-2456.
• • •
Taulogo helped spark big comeback
With 22 seconds left in the game, Toriano Taulogo came up with a you-gotta-be-kidding-me 62-yard punt return that set up what proved to be the winning score in Kahuku's 27-26 victory over Saint Louis last night.
Saint Louis looked on its way to another state football championship after going up 26-21 with 1:46 remaining on a 36-yard field goal by C.J. Santiago.
Santiago's ensuing kickoff into the end zone put Kahuku at its 20. The Red Raiders drove 45 yards to the Saint Louis 35. But the Crusaders' defense held Red Raiders' running back Darren Magalogo to a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-5.
Saint Louis took over, but was forced to punt with 31 seconds remaining.
Santiago got off a low line-drive punt that bounced to Taulogo at the Kahuku 35. Taulogo ran down the right sideline before being pushed out at the Saint Louis 3.
Magalogo scored on the next play to put Kahuku up 27-26 with 19 seconds left. The two-point conversion pass failed.
"I'm not a hero. All my teammates are heroes," Taulogo said.
The punt to Taulogo surprised teammate Walker Vave, who was on the punt return team.
"I didn't know Saint Louis was going to kick it to him," Vave said. "I thought they would kick it outside to waste some time, but they kicked it right to him."
Taulogo, a senior, also had an interception that set up a Kahuku touchdown, which cut the lead to 23-21.
"I saw him (Saint Louis quarterback Keali'i Perbera) throw the ball and I went to the ball," Taulogo said.
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at email@example.com or 525-8041.
— Kyle Sakamoto, Advertiser staff writer