Punahou fends off Kahuku
HALAWA — No. 4 Kahuku gave No. 2 Punahou all it could handle as the Buffanblu eked out a 21-13 win in an interleague Open Division contest at Hawaiian Financial FCU Field at Aloha Stadium Saturday.
Vincent Terrell scored two touchdowns: one on the ground and one receiving as he finished with 83 rushing yards and 86 receiving yards to help the Buffanblu improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in league play.
"Every win feels great, especially when it's a close game. Definitely we see where we have to improve on," Terrell said.
Freshman quarterback John-Keawe Sagapolutele threw for 271 yards on 16-of-23 passing, two touchdowns and one interception.
Facing a third-and-8 on their own 22 and Kahuku defenders closing in, Sagapolutele had to unload the ball quickly and found Terrell who took it 78 yards to the end zone to give the Buffanblu an eight-point cushion.
"They (Kahuku) blitzed forward so I had to avoid it and go to my next read. Vincent was right there at the right time," Sagapolutele said of the touchdown pass to Terrell.
"That was all John and our line. We just ran our routes, I just looked up and the ball is coming. John made a great play and great read and the rest is history," Terrell added.
"That gave us breathing room. Vincent is a spectacular player. It's been a struggle at times but he's showing what kind of athlete he is and he's a huge impact player," Punahou coach Kale Ane said of Terrell.
Kahuku took over on their own 27 and six plays into the drive managed to get down to the Punahou 41. A holding penalty pushed the ball back onto the 50 and Tiger Aldopho's pass intended for Ian Eveleth fell incomplete and another incompletion turned it over on downs as Punahou ran out the clock.
Punahou got on the scoreboard 10 seconds into the game as Sagapolutele found a streaking Chris Paige for 65 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Kahuku answered as Kelysn Tangaro-Kanoa returned the kickoff 56 yards and the Red Raiders ran nine of their 10 plays on the ground and were 3 for 3 on third down as Tiger Aldopho snuck it in for a 1-yard score to tie the game at 7.
Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu rushed for a 32-yard gain on a fake punt to the Punahou 40 and the Red Raiders got down to the Buffanblu 15, but Kahuku lost the ball and Legend Matautia recovered the fumble.
Punahou needed four plays to retake the lead as a 30-yard pass to Koa Eldredge and a roughing-the-passer penalty set up Terrell's 31-yard rushing touchdown for a 14-7 lead.
Kahuku's defense hounded the Buffanblu on their second offensive series in the third quarter that resulted in minus-30 yards and a 15-yard punt placed the ball on the Punahou 22. Two plays later, Matagi rushed for a 18-yard touchdown, but the kick failed as the Red Raiders trailed, 14-13.
"They are a physical team and they're going to test you. They are going to push you to the very end. You have to earn your victory," Ane said of the Red Raiders.
The Buffanblu benefited from two pass interference penalties and a defensive holding on the Red Raiders and got all the way down to the Kahuku 1, but a bad handoff exchange between Sagapolutele and Terrell resulted in Ace Kaufusi's fumble recovery.
"As a coach you can never enjoy everything. There's always things you can work on. That is one of them. You can't do that against good teams like this. We're lucky to get away with it. We'll look at the film and make adjustments and corrections," Ane said.
Kahuku went three-and-out following the turnover, but Kaonohi Kaniho jumped the route with an interception and took it to the Punahou 31. The Red Raiders came away empty-handed as Alakai Gilman intercepted Aldopho in the end zone.
"Thank God for the defense," Terrell said. "Our defense played their butts off tonight. They always have our back. Thank God that we have the defense we do. We know our defense is going to make a stop."
Red Raiders won last year's matchup, 41-28.
Punahou returns to Aloha Stadium to cap their regular season against Mililani on Friday, Oct. 11.
"This is the game we have marked on our calendar. Beginning of the season they were ranked above us and we're going to prepare all week for them," Terrell said of the Trojans.
Kahuku hosts Farrington to end regular season on Saturday, Oct. 12.