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Punahou grinds out win

  • FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Punahou running back Steven Lakalaka fell 2 yards short of reaching the century mark against Moanalua yesterday.
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A lot of sun, a little rain and a classic Manoa rainbow put a pleasant visual on a perfect afternoon for the Punahou Buffanblu.

Kaimi Fairbairn ended a scoreless duel with a third-quarter field goal and third-string quarterback Kale Dyas connected with Mountan Mitchell for a 73-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as Punahou outlasted Moanalua 10-0 yesterday at Alexander Field.

The win over a relentless Moanalua squad was one of the rare good breaks for Punahou over a span of one year, a period marked by key injuries. The Buffanblu entered the game with No. 9 Moanalua with injuries to their starting quarterback (Liloa Travis) and backup QB (Lokahi Matsuo). In fact, the team learned this week that Travis, who has worked out regularly and is sharp in the shotgun, won’t be cleared for another 3 1/2 weeks.

Matsuo, a converted tight end who has been a fast learner, is out with a rib injury.

That left the Buffanblu with Dyas in charge, and the 5-foot-7, 160-pound junior didn’t disappoint. He passed for 137 yards (8-for-17) without a pick as Punahou’s balanced attack amassed 279 total yards.

Defensive end Luke Kaumatule had 1.5 sacks to lead Punahou’s pass rush.

Moanalua finished with 135 total yards against a swarming defense. Na Menehune had 95 rushing yards on 38 attempts.

"They stayed the course with their offense and kept plugging away," Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. "They kept up the pressure the whole time."

In need of a big break, Moanalua never got one. Punahou’s Steven Lakalaka was a battering ram with 98 rushing yards on 22 attempts and added five catches for 55 yards.

"That No. 4 is a tough, tough player. He can break away any time. I’m really happy with our defense," Moanalua coach Arnold Martinez said.

"They did their homework," Lakalaka said of Moanalua. "For the first few plays, they were more hungry."

It was a massive challenge for Moanalua, which moved back up to Division I this season and found itself in the Top 10 after an upset win over Castle last week. With noteworthy wins by Oahu Interscholastic Association peers Kahuku (over Saint Louis) and Farrington (against Kamehameha) on Friday, Moanalua could’ve made it a clean sweep for ranked public-school programs.

"That would’ve been nice to beat Punahou," defensive end Richard Villasenor said. "But we can’t hang our heads. We’re not at our full potential yet."

Moanalua played without starting running back Charles Spencer (ankle), a transfer from King Kekaulike.

The first half was highlighted by defensive stops and special teams. K.T. Tuumalo blocked a 30-yard try by Moanalua’s Lee Arakawa to end the visitors’ opening drive.

Moanalua defensive tackle Jordan Tanioka smothered a 35-yard try by Fairbairn with 19 seconds left in the first half, ensuring a scoreless deadlock going into the half.

Moanalua’s spread option worked effectively enough without scoring by keeping Punahou’s offense off the field. Na Menehune controlled the ball for 16 minutes and 33 seconds in the first half to Punahou’s 7:27, but opportunities were missed.

"If we hit that first field goal, that changes the mentality," Martinez said.

The Buffanblu got an earful in the locker room.

"All our offensive coaches said we had to pick up the tempo, not just playing for us, but for our whole community," said Lakalaka, who had just six carries for 18 yards before halftime.

Punahou finally broke the drought with a 20-yard field goal by Fairbairn with 4:53 to go in the third quarter.

Moanalua got no deeper than the Punahou 30-yard line the rest of the way.

Mitchell snuck away from coverage early in the fourth quarter, caught a lob from Dyas at midfield, then cut back against the grain to the left, dragging two defenders with him over the goal line for the game’s only touchdown. Punahou led 10-0 with 9:31 remaining in the game.

"No. 9 leaked out," Villasenor said. "They never showed that before."

Mitchell, who wears former All-State receiver Robby Toma’s number (9), finished with three receptions for 82 yards.

"It’s big shoes to fill," Mitchell said of Toma, now a wide receiver at Notre Dame. "I look up to him. I was a sophomore when he said I could take (the number)."

Moanalua playmaker Michael Egami, who had two crucial plays in the game with Castle, was held in check yesterday. He finished with two receptions for 12 and ran eight times for another 12 yards.

 

At Alexander Field

Moanalua (1-1) 0 0 0 0 0
Punahou (2-0) 0 0 3 7 10

Pun–FG Kaimi Fairbairn 20

Pun–Mountan Mitchell 73 pass from Kale Dyas (Fairbairn kick)

RUSHINGMoan: Chasen Hamasaki 9-44, Kevin Canario 6-27, Michael Egami 8-12, Tayler Tanaka 3-10, Jay Laudato 2-5, Keven Amaral 10-(-3). Pun: Steven Lakalaka 22-98, Jacob Ioane 2-30, Dyas 6-14, Isaac Savaiinaea 1-0.

PASSINGMoan: Amaral 4-17 0-40, Dillon Turk 0-2-0-0. Pun: Dyas 8-17-0-137.

RECEIVINGMoan: Egami 2-12, Richard Villasenor 1-21, Tanaka 1-7. Pun: Lakalaka 5-55, Mitchell 3-82.

Junior varsity–Punahou 26, Moanalua 12

 

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