Kahuku survives wild finish to hold off Campbell and reach state final

The Kahuku Red Raiders will make a record 13th appearance in a state football championship game. Running back Zealand Matagi rushed for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to help the Red Raiders rally from a surprising halftime deficit to beat Campbell 21-19 in the Open Division semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships tonight at Aloha Stadium. 

OIA champion Kahuku (9-3) is 8-4 in state title games since the first tournament was held in 1999 and will play the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between Mililani and Saint Louis next Friday for the championship. Matagi needed 30 carries and help from his defense to survive against the Sabers (6-6), who had lost two games earlier this season to Kahuku by a combined score of 81-7.

After Matagi’s two TD runs put Kahuku ahead 21-13, Campbell’s Blesyng Alualu-Tuiolemotu blocked a Kahuku punt midway through the fourth quarter to give the Sabers the ball inside the Kahuku 20. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Campbell quarterback Blaine Hipa tried to trick Kahuku by going quick on a quarterback sneak but was stopped short of the goal line with 3:16 remaining. 

The Sabers forced a three-and-out without any timeouts remaining and got the ball back on the Kahuku 42 with 1:03 remaining. Hipa completed a pass to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala on fourth-and-7 to put the ball on the Kahuku 24 with 22 seconds remaining and then caught a 24-yard TD pass with 16 seconds remaining to pull within 21-19. Hipa’s two-point conversion pass to Mokiao-Atimalala was tipped just enough by Kahuku’s Tomasi Pasi to keep it from being caught. Campbell’s Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala recovered the onside kick and Campbell had two plays left, but Hipa was sacked by Kahuku’s Zion Ah You to end it. Ah You finished with 2 1/2 sacks and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run.