No. 4 Kahuku bulldozes No. 5 Campbell
Kahuku's Kingston Jones recovers a muffed punt by Campbell's Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala early in the third quarter that led to the Red Raiders' first score of the second half. Michael Lasquero | SL
KAHUKU — Through the heavy downpour at Carleton E. Weimer Field Saturday night, streaks of red were visible and constant.
No. 4 Kahuku got big play after big play and used a fast start to dominate No. 5 Campbell in a 46-0 OIA Open Division semifinal victory.
The Red Raiders (7-3), who scored 23 points off of turnovers, advances to meet reigning league champion next Saturday in the final game of a championship triple-header at Aloha Stadium, which starts at 2 p.m.
"It was an awesome start of the postseason. You always want to be peaking at the right time," said second-year Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho, whose team also locked up a state berth with the victory.
Everything went Kahuku's way on Saturday, even before the game started.
Campbell (5-5) was without starting running back Bubbah Aina-Chaves, who had a bad allergic reaction after getting stung by a bee coming off the bus and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The Sabers also were without the services of standout wideout Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, the leading receiver in the state. Mokiao-Atimalala was at midfield for the coin toss, but was nowhere on the field during the game after hurting his left knee in the regular season-finale against Kamehameha.
Then there were the fumbles.
The Sabers let the ball hit the turf eight times, with the first one going out of the end zone for a safety to give Kahuku an early 2-0 lead.
After a long return on the free kick by Tomasi Pasi, Zion Ah You punched in a 1-yard TD run to put the Red Raiders ahead 9-0 with 6:50 showing on the first quarter scoreboard.
Campbell got momentum back on a 50-yard pass play to Zavier Ceruti to convert third-and-17 on the following drive, but turned the ball over on the very next play when Joseph Taufa recovered a fumble for the Red Raiders.
"We just got to play better, we didn't play good offense," said Campbell coach Darren Johnson. "Our defense played better today, but we had some big plays that we gave up."
After the two teams traded punts, Kahuku scored just before the end of the first quarter on Zealand Matagi's 90-yard scamper to make it a 16-0 game.
In addition to the eight fumbles, there were four interceptions thrown by Campbell quarterback Blaine Hipa.
On the first play of the second quarter, Ah You tipped a pass near the line of scrimmage and came down with the pick. After the change of possession, Jason Mariteragi completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Lokana Enos down the left sideline to make the score 23-0 with 11:44 left in the first half.
"Our players were ready, we had a great week of practice," said Carvalho. "With a team (like Campbell) that we want to control the clock and the ball, I told (the boys) it was imperative that we start fast so that we can go and play Kahuku football; wear them out and run out the clock."
Kahuku added another score in the second quarter after Pasi intercepted Hipa and returned it for an apparent pick-six. A holding call negated the TD, but Matagi scored on the very next play with a 14-yard score to make it 29-0 heading into the break.
Kahuku RB Zealand Matagi ran for two scores and finished with 141 rushing yards, his fourth rushing game where he went over the century mark. Michael Lasquero | SL
"We just knew that we could stop them, stop the run, and if we got pressure on the quarterback, our (defensive backs) can hold them," said Ah You. "That's what we did. We just balled out, everybody did their job."
The Red Raiders went three-and-out to start the second half, but a muffed punt that was recovered by Kingston Jones netted a 34-yard field goal by Adam Requilman.
Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu recorded his second interception of the game on Campbell's next series, juggling the ball with one hand before taking it back for a 63-yard score to turn on the running clock.
Keslyn Tangaro-Kanoa added a 99-yard TD run the fourth quarter for the Red Raiders' final score of the game.
Campbell's season is not over. The Sabers will face Farrington next Friday at a to-be-determined site to determine the OIA's third representative in the Open Division state tournament.