No. 2 Kahuku clears out No. 7 Campbell, 45-6 [update]
Kahuku quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava looks for some running room against the Campbell defense. Jim LeBeau | SL
EWA BEACH — The Campbell Sabers swapped their black home uniforms for bright orange threads, but it was Big Red walking away with a win Friday night.
Sol-Jay Maiava accounted for three total touchdowns and Nalu Emerson returned two interceptions for two scores to lead Kahuku over host Campbell, 45-6, Friday night to close out the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I-Blue Conference regular season.
The Red Raiders (7-1 overall, 7-0 OIA D1-Blue), ranked second in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric D1 Football Power Rankings, captured the league's conference title with the win and will have a first round bye in the upcoming 12-team D1 postseason tournament.
Maiava was playing in his first game since suffering an injury to his non-throwing shoulder against Aiea on Sept. 1. His return helped spark a Kahuku offense that had just 63 total rushing yards and four lost fumbles. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 202 yards and two TDs against an interception in the win.
"Running game wasn't working so we just had to make plays in the passing game," said Maiava, who added a nine-yard rushing TD. "Thorton Alapa did a good job at that, Peter John (Mataira), Sitaleki (Tongi), Duke (Heffernan) had a nice touchdown. We were just clicking tonight pretty much."
On the other side of the field, Campbell struggled to get any traction on offense. The Red Raiders blitzed early and often and forced five total turnovers.
The pressure was evident early on when Frisco Aveau picked off Campbell quarterback Krenston Kaipo on the first play from scrimmage.
"We wanted to get them against the ropes quick," said Kahuku defensive coordinator Sola Soliai. "We just got lucky that it turned out our way. Hats off to (Campbell), they're a great team. Sometimes it just rolls your way."
Seventh-ranked Campbell (5-3, 5-2) could have locked up the No. 1 seed with a win, but will now have to host the Red Conference's sixth seed next weekend in the first round of the playoffs.
The Sabers finished the night with 26 yards of total offense against eight penalties for 79 yards.
"We made some critical mistakes," said Campbell coach Darren Johnson. "Of course they played football. We showed up and looked good. We have to get some stuff fixed up and worry about what we got to do next week."
Kahuku got its first score of the game after its punt return unit stopped Campbell punter on the 1-yard line after a high snap. Offensive lineman Trycen Mau scooped up a mishandled snap in the end zone on the very next play to put Kahuku ahead 7-0 at the 6:44 mark of the first quarter.
After a personal foul against Campbell was assessed on the kickoff, Emerson recovered a pooch kick on the Sabers' 26-yard line to give Kahuku possession. Two plays later Maiava ran around right end for a score to make it a 14-0 game with 6:23 remaining in the first stanza.
Other than a Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa fumble recovery that was returned for a Campbell touchdown, it was a dominant performance for the Red Raiders in their first game at Ewa Beach in 25 years.
"With the early lead and Frisco's pick on the first series, that set the tone right there and it all just followed after that," said Emerson.
Emerson's first pick-six of the game came at the 4:48 mark of the second quarter. The Red Raiders were also able to run a two-minute drill with success just before the end of the first half and took a 28-6 halftime lead on Maiava's 15-yard TD pass to Alapa.
Sophomore Duke Heffernan, who was a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs, booted a 23-yard field goal on Kahuku's first drive of the third quarter and caught a 31-yard scoring pass from Maiava to give the Red Raiders a 38-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Emerson's 74-yard pick-six in the final period of play put the 35-point mercy rule effect into effect with 8:29 left in regulation. Prior to Emerson's second interception, the Sabers had just minus 2 yards of total offense.