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Punahou’s defense stops ‘Iolani

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    Punahou's Steven Lakalaka runs into 'Iolani defensive traffic during first-half action.
    Punahou workhorse Steven Lakalaka ran through a hole during one of his 33 touches yesterday against 'Iolani. Lakalaka had 31 rushes for 172 yards and two receptions for 4 yards in Punahou's 24-19 victory.

A defense that held firm all game didn’t break in the final minutes.

Despite four personal-foul penalties on ‘Iolani’s final drive, No. 4 Punahou held on fourth down from its 7-yard line to preserve a 24-19 victory in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu game at Alexander Field.

K.T. Tuumalo returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown and the Buffanblu defense also forced a safety that helped hand the fifth-ranked Raiders (5-2, 3-1) their first league loss.

"I felt relieved, because if we didn’t stop them (at the end), we wouldn’t have won," said junior Luke O’tutulupeat Kaumatule, who had three of Punahou’s five sacks. "That was all up to Connor (Clinton). That was a big play."

‘Iolani got the ball back, forcing a punt with 3 minutes remaining trailing 24-17. Punahou committed a 15-yard face mask on the kick and was whistled for personal fouls on consecutive plays, putting the ball to its 12-yard line.

After a 1-yard run by ‘Iolani, Clinton sacked Raiders quarterback Reece Foy for a 9-yard loss to put the ball back on the 20.

A fourth personal foul, which doesn’t automatically mean a first down in high school, gave ‘Iolani one final chance at the Punahou 7.

Foy tried to find Bret Christman, who had six catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, on a slant route in the end zone, but Christman slowed up and the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.

"We just buckled up trying to keep them out of the end zone," Clinton said. "I just did what my coaches told me to do."

‘Iolani had one timeout left, forcing Punahou to snap the ball with 2 seconds left. Punter J. Christian Fairbairn took a knee in the end zone for a safety, but allowed enough time for the clock to run out.

"Every time we play ‘Iolani it’s close, so we knew even if we got out to an early lead, which we did, they would come back," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "I think our kids got frustrated with (Foy) scrambling a little bit, but the defense rose up at the end and we blitzed at the end, gambled a little bit, and it worked."

The Buffanblu were without DeForest Buckner, who wasn’t cleared to play after suffering a concussion last week.

The defense didn’t miss a beat, holding the Raiders to 43 rushing yards on 31 attempts.

"Luke is coming into his own and Alex Chang and Clinton also had really good games," Ane said. "The defense was outstanding and the offense was clutch when they needed to be."

Senior Liloa Travis started at quarterback and did most of his best work handing the ball off to Steven Lakalaka. Punahou showed a variety of formations, including the Wildcat, to get Lakalaka 33 touches in the game. He finished with 172 yards on 31 carries and also had two receptions for the bulk of Punahou’s offense.

"(‘Iolani) was trying to lock down on me, but we had to play smart," Lakalaka said. "It felt good to do this for the seniors in their last homecoming game."

Foy finished 16-for-28 for 205 yards and touchdown passes of 25 and 29 yards to Christman to lead the Raiders.


At Alexander Field

‘Iolani (5-2, 3-1)   0 7 3 9 19
Punahou (4-1, 2-1)   15 3 0 6 24

Pun–Safety, ball snapped out of end zone
Pun–K.T. Tuumalo 20 fumble return (run failed)
Pun–Jacob Ioane 1 run (J. Christian Fairbairn kick)
Iol–Bret Christman 29 pass from Reece Foy (Jordan Lee kick)
Pun–FG Fairbairn 23
Iol–FG Lee 21
Pun–Liloa Travis 1 run (kick failed)
Iol–Christman 25 pass from Foy (Lee kick)
Iol–Safety, Fairbairn took knee in end zone

RUSHING–Iol: Ammon Baldomero 4-13, Lee 9-11, Foy 16-11, Sheldon Gallarde 2-6. Pun: Steven Lakalaka 31-172, Travis 4-10, Patrick O’Neil 2-5, Ioane 1-1, team 1-(minus 7).

PASSING–Iol: Foy 16-28-0-205. Pun: Travis 5-13-0-43, Fairbairn 1-1-0-(minus 17).

RECEIVING–Iol: Christman 6-129, Kasey Takahashi 4-31, Gallarde 3-27, Josiah Sukumaran 2-20, Baldomero 1-(minus 2). Pun: Mountan Mitchell 2-34, Lakalaka 2-4, Cole Dudoit 1-5, Ryan Tuiasoa 1-(minus 17).


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