No. 4 Kahuku grounds No. 8 Kapolei, 56-10
KAHUKU — The Kahuku Red Raiders employ a strict no-fly zone in their oval office.
The Red Raiders (9-0) picked off Kapolei freshman quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa four times in their 56-10 Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I quarterfinal win over Kapolei at Carleton Weimer Field Saturday night.
Kahuku, ranked fourth in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Division I Football Power Rankings, will face Farrington (7-2) in the first semifinal game at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium next Friday.
Kapolei's season is over with a 6-4 mark.
The Hurricanes scored twice in the first quarter, but were held out of the end zone for the rest of the night. It was the most points scored on the Kahuku defense all year.
"It was a good team win and we came out and battled," said cornerback Kekaula Kaniho, who had two interceptions. "We started off a little bit slow, but we just picked our intensity up to where we should be playing."
While Kapolei took the skies on offense, Kahuku kept its attack on the ground. With their two tight end, three fullback sets, the Red Raiders were able to rush for a season-high 437 yards.
"We're just going to ground and pound on offense and get after it on defense, plain and simple," said Kahuku first-year coach Vavae Tata.
Kesi Ah-Hoy took the most snaps behind center and rushed for a season-high 200 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries. Harmon Brown helped give Ah-Hoy a breather and rushed nine times for 163 yards and two scores.
The Hurricanes were also whistled for 11 penalties for a total of 115 yards which help aid a handful of Kahuku drives and derail some of their own.
"It was terrible," said Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez. "Penalties, turnovers and our defense just couldn't stop the run. Put all those three together and you have the kind of score that you have tonight."
Kahuku went three-and-out on its opening possession, but got its first score after Kaniho intercepted Tagovailoa's second pass of the game for a 72-yard pick-six.
"I just saw a route that we prepared for all week," Kaniho said on his defensive score. "I jumped out, did my assignment and ended up taking it to the house."
Tagovailoa bounced back from his early miscue and drove the Hurricanes down the field for a 30-yard field goal by Beau Meyer.
Ah-Hoy got his first score of the game after Keala Santiago returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards. After the return, Ah-Hoy ran it three straight times with his third carry being a 21-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Kekoa Sasaoka's PAT gave Kahuku a 14-3 lead.
Kapolei came right back with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in Tagovailoa's 2-yard touchdown pass to Kainoa Borden on fourth down. Tagovailoa hit Jaymin Sarono for a key 39-yard completion on the drive.
"They were able to create spaces with their wide receivers and we gave up 10 too many points," said Tata.
The Red Raiders answered with a eight-play drive that was aided by a illegal chop block penalty and a facemark penalty against Kapolei. Ah-Hoy's 11-yard capped the drive to give Kahuku a 21-10 lead.
Kapolei got down to the Kahuku 11-yard line on its next possession thanks to some clutch grabs by Boogie Tago-Sue, but turned it over after Kaniho intercepted Tagovailoa with a spectacular one-handed grab. Five plays later Brown broke loose up the middle for a 75-yard touchdown run to put the Red Raiders up by 18.
After a Kapolei punt and a missed 41-yard field goal attempt Sasaoka, Kahuku got its third pick of the night on Tagovailoa. Stokes Botelho returned the interception to the Kapolei 1-yard line to set up Ah-Hoy's 1-yard blast on the final play of the first half.
"I thought we did a great job protecting Taulia, but we had some misreads and some turnovers and that's always going to kill you," said Hernandez.
Both team's offenses fizzled to start the second half until Ah-Hoy scored his final touchdown of the night on a 35-yard jaunt. This gave the Red Raiders an insurmountable 42-10 lead with 4:58 to play in the third quarter.
Kapolei had a chance to punch in a score on the ensuing possession, but turned it over on downs in the red zone. The Red Raiders took over from their own 11-yard line and enabled the 35-point, running clock mercy rule when Brown cashed in on a 54-yard run down the left sideline.
Hirkley Latu intercepted Tagovailloa on the Hurricanes' next drive and Kahuku's backups were able to add on another score for the final point total.