No. 2 Kahuku pulls away from No. 8 Kapolei, 35-7
Kahuku fullback Toalei Lefau sheds a defender on a 1-yard plunge to the end zone for his second score of the game. CJ Caraang | SL
KAHUKU — Toalei Lefau rushed for three touchdowns and Sol-Jay Maiava threw for 193 yards and another score to lead No. 2 Kahuku to a 35-7 win over No. 8 Kapolei at Carleton E. Weimer Field Friday night.
The Red Raiders (8-1) notched their fourth consecutive win to move on to next week's semifinal round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I tournament.
The Hurricanes (5-5) saw their season come to an end.
The Red Raiders threw for 249 of their 382 yards of total offense.
"We had the game plan to try and pass, just because looking at the film, it's been so hard to run against these guys throughout the season," Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas said. "We knew that Kapolei coming in, they have a good d-line. There's a reason all those guys have all those offers, they're really good, and we thought if we get some short completions it could soften them up a little bit, but that was the game plan going in, was to try and pass because we knew it was going to be tough to run the ball against these guys."
Maiava completed 18 of his 32 pass attempts for 193 yards, including a 22-yard scoring strike to Duke Heffernan on the final play of the first half. He was not intercepted.
"I think we started off a little bit rusty — a lot of players were hyped up before the game — but as the game went on we progressed and found our rhythm throughout the game," said Maiava, who was coming off a 14-of-24 performance for 202 yards against Campbell two weeks ago.
Kahuku's Duke Heffernan (2) chest bumps Peter John Mataira (23) after scoring on a 22-yard pass from Sol-Jay Maiava to end the first half. CJ Caraang | SL
Lefau, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound junior fullback, found the end zone on three short runs and finished with eight carries for 13 yards. His 2-yard TD run with five minutes left in the second quarter capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive and broke a 7-all tie.
About three minutes later, defensive back Ratu Tuisavura registered Kahuku's second interception off Kapolei quarterback Lonenoa Faoa. Tuisavura picked up 30 yards on the return to set-up first-and-goal. Four plays later — on fourth-and-goal from the Hurricanes' 1-yard line — Lefau found the end zone for his second TD run. That stretched the Kahuku lead to 21-7 with 1:06 left in the half.
On Kapolei's very next play from scrimmage, Faoa was intercepted by cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho to give the offense the ball back with just 58 seconds remaining.
The Red Raiders needed five plays to recycle the turnover into another score. Two plays after he scrambled for an 8-yard pick-up to move the chains on third-and-6, Maiava eluded a pass rush and scrambled left before finding a wide-open Heffernan in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard TD pass. The score came with no time left on the clock and sent Kahuku into halftime with a 28-7 lead.
"(I was) scrambling around, trying to figure out where to go — props to the o-line, props to the receivers working the scramble drills — and it just so happened that Duke Heffernan got open," Maiava said.
Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said Maiava's legs were the difference.
"We knew they were going to throw it, but the thing that you can't prepare for is the scrambling ability of Sol-Jay Maiava. I mean, he can break down and lay waste to the most well-designed defensive game plan. He's did a great job extending plays," Hernandez said.
Freitas credited Maiava for keeping his eyes downfield while fending off numerous Kapolei defenders.
"It was funny, that last play of the first half, you know, I thought we were going to try at least get a field goal and then he started scrambling, the clock ran out and somehow he found someone wide open in the end zone. He has a unique ability to see the field," Freitas said of his sophomore quarterback.
Heffernan, a converted defensive back, finished with a season-high seven receptions for 78 yards and also converted all five of his extra-point tries.
"He gave a great effort. We brought him over on offense and he's just a great competitor," Freitas said.
The Red Raiders closed out the scoring with a 2-yard Lefau TD run with 6:44 left in the third quarter. The scoring drive covered 63 yards in eight plays, including a 16-yard completion from Maiava to Heffernan on third-and-13.
"First quarter we played well and then the wheels came off," Hernandez said. "Turnovers killed us, the wheels came off and that's the end. I mean, when you play Kahuku at Kahuku, you've got to play them perfect — you've got to be perfect over here — and we were far from perfect, so that's just the way it is."
Enoch Nawahine led all rushers with 86 yards on 12 carries, including a 5-yard TD run to open the scoring late in the first quarter.
Thomas Nihipali also registered an interception for the Kahuku defense, which held Kapolei to just 154 yards of total offense and eight first downs.
"The defense did a terrific job. Hats off to them," Maiava said. "The defense came out banging pretty hard, they gave us good field position every time and we just had to take advantage of it."
Faoa threw for 127 yards on 13-of-31 passing. His 25-yard TD pass to Isaiah Ahana early in the second quarter accounted for the Hurricanes' lone score. Ahana finished with nine grabs for 90 yards in the loss.
Kahuku will now face the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal between No. 9 Campbell and No. 7 Leilehua Friday at Aloha Stadium.
No. 6 Waianae and No. 3 Mililani will square off in the other semifinal. The top three teams out of the OIA tournament will qualify for next month's four-team D1-Open state tournament.