For once, Kahuku’s passing game stole the spotlight from the run-and-shoot Crusaders of Saint Louis.
Evan Moe was an efficient 9-for-13 for 166 yards and a touchdown, and two crucial second-half plays on special teams sparked the No. 1 Red Raiders to a surprisingly easy 49-27 win over No. 2 Saint Louis last night.
"I feel like we made a statement," linebacker Ben Mamea said. "We’ll play as a team and not worry about the media."
A crowd estimated at 4,500 by Kahuku athletic director Joe Whitford enjoyed what is believed to be the first-ever visit by the longtime private-school powerhouse Crusaders to the North Shore. Coach Reggie Torres’ squad made it a memorable night by controlling the second half after taking a narrow 21-20 lead into intermission.
"We made adjustments on our linebacking crew. We had to start plugging holes," Mamea said. "We made a big change in the secondary, too."
Mamea had one of his team’s two blocked punts. Tigi Hill, a safety, had the other in the first half.
"I made like I’d double the gunner," Hill said of the first punt block of his life. "Coach Dave (Te’o) told me to go. I got so close so many times before."
The Red Raiders (3-0) drove 80 yards and took nearly 6 minutes off the clock to start the second half. A 3-yard touchdown run by Tyrone Brown pushed Kahuku’s lead to 28-20 with 6:47 to go in the third quarter.
Aofaga Wily finished with 85 yards on 21 carries, while Brown had 84 yards on nine attempts.
Saint Louis’ ensuing drive stalled, and a fake punt and incomplete pass by punter Aaron Goo gave Kahuku the ball at the Crusaders’ 26-yard line. Two plays later, Wily broke through on the left side for a 9-yard touchdown run and Kahuku had a 35-20 lead with 4:51 left in the third.
Moments later, Mamea raced in and blocked a punt by Goo, setting up an 11-yard return to the end zone by Mikeli Fiso. Kahuku led 42-20 with 2:38 remaining in the third.
Moe capped his night with a 9-yard scoring pass to Punga Vea on play-action and Kahuku led 49-20 with 9:33 remaining.
Saint Louis managed a score on a 5-yard pass from Marcus Mariota to Duke Bukoski with 3:23 to go.
Mariota, who opened the game with a scintillating sprint for a touchdown, stayed in the pocket all night despite some nifty gains on scrambles. He passed for 277 yards (25-for-43) and ran for 82 more on just seven attempts. The Crusaders resisted the temptation to let the speedy senior ad-lib much more against an aggressive Kahuku defense.
"We played our game plan and worked on what we needed to work on," Crusaders coach Darnell Arceneaux said, noting next week’s Interscholastic League of Honolulu opener with Kamehameha. "We needed game experience in this kind of atmosphere."
The first half was loaded with action offensively, lasting about 90 minutes.
Saint Louis scored on its second play from scrimmage when Mariota raced around left end on a keeper and sprinted 52 yards to the pylon for a 7-0 lead with 11:33 to go in the opening quarter.
Kahuku got on the scoreboard during its second series. A 38-yard strike from Moe to Vea sparked the drive, and Brown dashed off the left side for a 19-yard touchdown to tie it at 7-all with 7:22 left in the first.
The Saints’ special teams were a factor in the first half, thanks in large part to Jesse Correa, who drilled a 30-yard field goal to give his team a 10-7 lead with 5:09 remaining in the first.
The home team responded with a seven-play, 55-yard drive. Brown displayed his breakaway speed again, blasting off the left side for a 34-yard scoring jaunt to give Kahuku a 14-10 lead with 1:09 to go in the first.
The Saints bounced right back with an 11-play, 80-yard march. Mariota completed three passes for first downs, including a key 14-yard toss on fourth and 11 to Joshua Tupua. Keanu Mook-Garcia scored on a 4-yard run on the right side, and Saint Louis led 17-14 with 9:25 to go in the second quarter.
Both defenses settled in for most of the remaining time in the half until Kahuku’s special teams came up big. Hill blocked a punt, setting up a short 20-yard drive for Kahuku. Mamea lined up at running back in a power-I set and scored on a 2-yard dive as the Red Raiders regained the lead with 3 minutes left in the half, 21-17.
A 42-yard strike from Mariota to Tupua with 1.6 seconds to go in the half set up a 36-yard field goal by Correa, bringing the visitors within 21-20 at the break.
At Carleton Weimer Field
|Saint Louis (0-0, 2-1)||10||10||0||7||—||27|
|Kahuku (1-0, 3-0)||14||7||21||7||—||49|
STL–Marcus Mariota 52 run (Jesse Correa kick)
KAH–Tyrone Brown 19 run (Joshua Sorensen kick)
STL–Correa FG 30
KAH–Brown 34 run (Sorensen kick)
STL–Keanu Mook-Garcia 4 run (Correa kick)
KAH–Ben Mamea 2 run (Sorensen kick)
STL–Correa FG 36
KAH–Brown 3 run (Sorenson kick)
KAH–Aofaga Wily 9 run (Sorenson kick)
KAH–Mikeli Fiso 11 punt block return (Sorensen kick)
KAH–Punga Vea 9 pass from Evan Moe (Sorenson kick)
STL–Duke Bukoski 5 pass from Mariota (Correa kick)
RUSHING—StL: Mariota 7-82, Keanu Mook-Garcia 9-37, Derek Nakasato 5-37, team 1-(minus-36). Kah: Wily 21-85, Brown 9-84, Moe 2-9, Fonoivasa Mataafa 2-9, Shawn Pahulu 1-3, Mamea 1-2.
PASSING—StL: Mariota 25-43-1-277, Aaron Goo 0-1-0-0. Kah: Moe 9-13-0-166.
RECEIVING—StL: Joshua Tupua 8-116, Bukoski 5-60, Kaeo Aliviado 5-52, Jared Tomaszek 4-27, Dallas Tuumalo 1-16, Jeremy Tabuyo 1-6, Nakasato 1-0. Kah: Vea 5-121, Sorensen 3-23, Shairone Thompson 1-22.