Kahuku takes advantage of eight Mililani turnovers — including five in the first quarter — on its way to a 50-13 victory and the OIA Red championship
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 3, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 1:33 a.m. HST, Nov 3, 2012
The Kahuku Red Raiders promised to have some trickeration in store, but the warning didn't help Mililani.
Kahuku's defense came up with five first-quarter turnovers — eight total for the game — rolling to a 29-0 lead en route to a 50-13 win for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference championship on Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
The victory earned Kahuku (10-0) a No. 1 seeding and an opening-round bye in the state tourney, which begins next week.
The Red Raiders promised to unveil some of the gadget plays they'd worked on this season and they delivered. There was a jump pass, Tim Tebow/Florida Gators style, for a touchdown by Aofaga Wily. There was a halfback option pass by Kawe Johnson, a sure touchdown that was overthrown. There was also a classic flea-flicker bomb that was called back by penalty.
But it was defense that has been Kahuku's cornerstone going back to an unbeaten season in 2010 — shattered by player eligibility issues — and the '11 unit that had a lockdown season en route to a state title.
"I'm proud of my defensive players and our staff. Kimo (Haiola) and the coaches. I've been blessed," coach Reggie Torres said. "We bent at times, but we didn't break much."
It was a meeting of powerhouse programs that were in line to play for the title in '10 before the unfortunate episode for Kahuku.
"We just focused on this Mililani team, not the other one (in '10). This is a very good team and that offense is scarier," Torres said.
Jarin Morikawa, who entered the game with a state-high 2,889 passing yards plus 31 touchdown passes, was held to 222 yards (22-for-45) with one touchdown and three interceptions.
"We've got to do a better job of coaching," Mililani coach Rod York said. "The turnovers definitely killed us. The kids gave us their best, but we know we can play better."
Kahuku lined up with three down linemen, but had eight defenders in coverage and brought blitzers from all angles to confound Morikawa and his offensive line.
"It's a collective effort," Kahuku linebacker Johnny Tapusoa said. "The intensity level, we had to keep it high or they could strike any time. Any of us (linebackers) can call the play at the line of scrimmage when our coaches don't send in a play."
Johnson, chasing Mililani deep threat Erren Jean-Pierre much of the night, had his share of excitement, returning an interception 90 yards to highlight the early onslaught.
"The ball was tipped and fell into my hands. My blockers were there," said Johnson.
Wily had his usual big game, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
"We're going home to our families and enjoy it, celebrate this," the low-key senior said. "Our defense came strong. They always play strong."
It was Kahuku's aggressive, opportunistic defense that ripped the game out of Mililani's hands from the start.
On the second play from scrimmage, Johnson jarred the ball out of wide receiver Jean-Pierre's hands and Tapusoa recovered. Kahuku didn't score on that series, but cracked the end zone on four of six possessions in the opening quarter.
After Mililani got the ball back on a punt, it took just two plays again for another giveaway. Linebacker Rashaan Falemalu stripped the pigskin from Ekolu Ramos and hustling defensive lineman Siamau Mapu recovered at the Mililani 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Wily took a handoff, stopped and threw a jump pass to tight end Lamone Williams in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown with 8:21 left in the first quarter.
Four plays into Mililani's ensuing series, Tapusoa was at it again, taking the ball from Ramos in the midst of a gang tackle. Three plays later, Wily bolted free for a 32-yard touchdown run to give Kahuku a 14-0 lead.
The Red Raiders came up with yet another takeaway on Mililani's next play from scrimmage when Cody Pukahi picked off a Morikawa pass.
Kahuku's drive stalled, but six plays into Mililani's next possession, Morikawa's pass ricocheted off tight end Dakota Turner's hands and into the palms of Johnson, who weaved from right to left and scored on a 90-yard interception return.
After P.J. Liua scored on a muddle-huddle 2-point conversion, Kahuku led 22-0.
A 65-yard run by Wily sparked the next Kahuku drive, allowing Liua to burst up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown and a 29-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
Mililani's normally prolific passing offense got on the scoreboard on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Morikawa to Ramos early in the second quarter.
Mililani's hopes of making a second-half run were dampened quickly. Linebacker Clifford Ramseyer stripped the ball from Antonio Boies and Mapu made his second fumble recovery. Wily capped the 40-yard drive with an 8-yard run off right tackle and Kahuku led 36-7.
Five plays into Mililani's next series, Williams, at defensive end, leaped high and plucked a screen pass out of the air for another interception. That led to Viliami Livai's first touchdown pass, a 19-yard play-action toss on first down, and with a 43-7 lead, the running-clock rule took effect.