JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Kahuku's Aofaga Wily tried to find a way past Punahou's Ronley Lakalaka during the first half of Saturday night's 21-13 Kahuku win.
Aofaga Wily says he’s a bit over his playing weight.
An offseason of rehab following ankle surgery had him sidelined and gaining poundage.
Maybe he should keep it on.
The senior all-state running back erupted for 225 yards on 28 carries, bolting to touchdowns of 52, 29 and 23 yards as No. 1 Kahuku rallied past No. 2 Punahou 21-13 last night.
A boisterous crowd of about 4,000 at Carleton Weimer Field saw the home team go scoreless in the first half. Kahuku seemed puzzled at times defensively as Punahou’s Larry "Tui" Tuileta spread the ball around, hitting Kanawai Noa on a touchdown toss to help his team take a 13-0 lead into the break.
But Kahuku opened the second half with a vengeance in the trenches, feeding Punahou’s defense a steady diet of Wily, who is now 202 pounds — 7 pounds heavier than last year.
"Aofaga’s just getting his legs back," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said.
"After the surgery, I picked up weight," Wily said. "I’m still working on it, still getting more comfortable. My linemen, some of them are young, so it’s good we have returnees like (All-State lineman) John Wa‘a helping them out."
Wily took an option pitch from Lasi Livai and sprinted 52 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, bringing the Red Raiders within 13-7.
On Kahuku’s next series, the Red Raiders drove 70 yards in nine plays. Wily pulled in a 16-yard pass during the march and capped it with a 29-yard jaunt around the left side.
Jake Samsel’s PAT kick gave Kahuku a 14-13 lead with 3:56 to go in the third quarter.
From there, Kahuku’s defense made its adjustments, forcing Tuileta into six consecutive incompletions at one point. Punahou got no deeper than the Kahuku 41-yard line.
Even after linebacker Saitui Moea‘i recovered a fumble at the Kahuku 42, Punahou couldn’t capitalize.
The Red Raiders drove 82 yards in 15 plays, with Wily racing around right end for a 23-yard score to give them a 21-13 lead with 5:27 remaining.
Punahou’s final possession ended with a sack of Tuileta by linebacker Matai Paselio near midfield.
"It was a great second half for our team. They showed great character," Torres said. "Our guys were getting beat on the pass (in the first half) and began to doubt themselves, but they battled back and I’m proud of them. Hats off to Punahou. They’re a great team. That quarterback (Tuileta) is tough."
Punahou hadn’t played a game at Kahuku since 1963 or ’64, according to alum and former coach Rocky Higgins.
"Kahuku’s a great team. You play the best and you find out where you stand," Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. "The fans here are great. It’s a lot of fun."
The visitors in blue made a statement early, driving 60 yards in eight plays despite a sack by the Red Raiders. Tuileta opened the drive with a 20-yard strike to Dakota Torres and finished it with a 9-yard TD pass to Noa. The Buffanblu led 6-0 with 9:12 to go in the opening quarter.
Kahuku had some sizzle and fizzle offensively in its first game of the season. Livai’s pass to Will Cravens in the end zone on a post pattern was dropped. Later in the half, Livai was picked off by Nikolai Bulanow after a drive into the red zone.
Bulanow, Punahou’s pooch-kicking punter, saved his team with a retrieve of a bad snap that turned into a punt that pinned Kahuku at its 13-yard line. Two plays later, Wily fumbled and the football was recovered by — who else? — Bulanow.
That led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Ryan Tuiasoa, and the Buffanblu led 13-0 with 7:15 to go in the first half.
At Carleton Weimer Field
Pun—Kanawai Noa 9 pass from Larry Tuitele (kick failed) Pun—Ryan Tuiasoa 3 run (Charles McDonald kick) Kah—Aofaga Wily 52 run (Jake Samsel kick) Kah—Wily 29 run (Samsel kick) Kah—Wily 23 run (Samsel kick)
RUSHING—Punahou: Tuiasoa 11-14, Tuileta 3-(-22). Kahuku: Aofaga Wily 28-225, P.J. Liua 8-49, Sofi Afalava 3-14, Lasi Livai 12-15. PASSING—Punahou: Tuileta 17-38-0-251. Kahuku: Livai 7-10-1-81. RECEIVING—Punahou: Kanawai Noa 7-105, Keanu Chee 6-84, Noah Wiley 2-37, Dakota Torres 1-20, Austin Sivik 1-5. Kahuku: Kawehena Johnson 3-48, Wily 3-24, Will Cravens 1-9.
Junior varsity—Kahuku 19, Punahou 14