Kahuku takes Red East
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM Kahuku's Dustin Huddy looked for running room last night against Kailua. The Red Raiders beat the Surfriders 26-9.
The Red Raiders beat the Surfriders to remain undefeated
A transfer from Maui scored two second-half touchdowns to lead Kahuku to a 26-9 victory over host Kailua last night in front of an estimated 4,000 fans.
The win gave the Red Raiders the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference football championship -- for the second time this season.
Kahuku (8-0, 7-0) started the week as champions, but when the OIA announced that Castle must forfeit a previous victory over Kailua, it gave the Surfriders a last-game shot at the title.
But Tevita Finau, who led the Maui Sabers to a strong showing in the state basketball tournament last spring before transferring to Kahuku, made sure Kailua didn't usurp the Red Raiders' dominant standing at the top.
"I'm overwhelmed and very happy," Finau said after the game, which was much closer than the score indicates. "I was surprised I got the calls, but the coach was saying to watch for me and that I would be open. We did it. We took it all the way."
Kailua (6-1-1, 5-1-1) grabbed a 7-6 halftime lead and retained that slight edge until late in the third quarter.
A short Surfriders punt gave Kahuku good field position at its own 45, and Dustin Huddy's 54-yard run on an option pitch right led to Finau's 5-yard TD catch of a Waika Carvalho pass and a 12-7 edge.
It was the first time all night the Red Raiders used an outside pitch and it came at the perfect moment, surprising all of the Surfriders, who were leaning inside.
Kailua made it a three-point game -- 12-9 -- thanks to a safety early in the fourth quarter. Kahuku punter Makana Nicodemus was tackled in his own end zone by Derek Mailau after a snap that went way over his head.
Mailau, who also had a blocked extra point, congratulated his friends from Kahuku after the game, but wasn't too happy about his team letting a chance at the title slip away.
"We've got to regroup and come back strong in the playoffs," Mailau said. "We could have had them, but mental breakdowns killed us."
Walker Vave, Kahuku's hard-hitting linebacker, recovered a Kailua fumble in Surfriders territory and it led to Finau's second TD grab -- this time from 5 yards out for an 18-9 lead with 4:09 to go.
Vave's interception and Huddy's 53-yard burst helped Kahuku seal it as Paea Vaimoui scored from the 1 for a 26-9 bulge with 2:26 left.
"We've got to work harder and can't screw up like we did today," said Nicodemus, who is Vave's counterpart at linebacker. "It wasn't going as we would have liked in the first half. But it's satisfying, as long as we know we're No. 1 in the OIA, and we deserve it."
After a scoreless first quarter, the Surfriders took a 7-0 lead by capitalizing on a Kahuku fumble. Kalae Meagher's recovery at the Red Raider 25 and Damien Torres' 22-yard run led to Torres' 1-yard dive.
Kahuku worked the 2-minute drill to cut the deficit to 7-6. Carvalho scrambled for gains of 23 and 11 yards, the latter on a crucial fourth-and-10 situation, and then he passed to Spencer Hafoka cutting across the middle for an 11-yard score. Hafoka was hit hard by Mailau at the 1-yard line, but Hafoka was able to nudge the ball into the end zone.
Mailau prevented the Red Raiders from tying the game by rushing around right end to block Simote Vea's extra-point attempt.
Huddy finished with 167 yards on 15 carries, while Torres had 107 yards on 25 carries.
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