In spite of four Kamehameha sacks and a night of constant pressure, Tua Tagovailoa persevered.
In fact, he welcomed the pass rush rather than be lulled into quick-trigger throws. The senior passed for 258 yards and a touchdown as No. 2 Saint Louis overwhelmed No. 6 Kamehameha 35-3 on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium. Saint Louis improved to 3-0 in ILH Division I play (4-0 overall), while Kamehameha dropped to 1-2 (2-3 overall).
“I give Kamehameha a lot of credit. They put a lot of pressure on our quarterback tonight, and that’s a fact. He’s running because he’s getting pressured. I don’t think we blocked very well, honestly,” Crusaders coach Cal Lee said.
It was all business for the Crusaders on homecoming night as coaches reeled in players lingering on the sideline, collecting lei and love after the game. Kamehameha lingered as long as it could during the game, using all-out defensive pressure.
“We’re getting there, really close. They don’t know how good they can be,” Kamehameha first-year head coach Abu Ma’afala said.
It was an explosion of defenders in the Saint Louis backfield much of the night, the kind that would derail just about any quarterback. Tagovailoa is a playmaker who is as effective with his legs as he is with his arm.
“He’s the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation,” Ma’afala said.
He completed 20 of his 35 pass attempts — below his normal completion rate — and his final rushing numbers were deceptive. He finished with 19 yards on nine carries, including the four sacks, but his ability to elude the pass rush was a problem Kamehameha never quite solved.
Saint Louis led 21-3 at the half thanks in large part to Tagovailoa’s key 26-yard gain on fourth-and-26 late in the final two minutes, leading to a score.
“They did a good job,” Tagovailoa said. “The game plan was to kind of spread it out because they like to blitz, so we tried a lot of quick stuff, but they have a very quick front that’s very tough. I don’t think there’s a tougher front that we face in the OIA and the ILH. Everything worked out kind of good.”
The Warriors seized momentum early with a patient 12-play drive that ate 6 minutes and 49 seconds off the clock. The game-opening series featured Kamehameha in double-tight-end sets, using an H-back and, sometimes, a receiver in motion to create something like a power-I jumbo set. That worked for running back Kanoa Shannon. The junior, who finished with 93 yards on 20 carries, had seven attempts for 36 yards as the Warriors set the tempo.
Adam Stack’s 39-yard field goal soared over the crossbar for a 3-0 lead. There was no indication whatsoever that the scoring was done for the team in white and navy blue.
Saint Louis limited Kamehameha to 253 yards of total offense, picking off Thomas Yam twice. The Crusaders got sacks from sophomore defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele and linebackers Isaiah Taliulu and Isaac Slade- Matautia.
Slade-Matautia also had one of the Crusaders’ interceptions, but was whistled late in the game for unnecessary roughness, then was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The nature of the disqualification — verbal — is that it’s not the same as an outright ejection, Lee said, so Slade-Matautia will not face an automatic one-game suspension. Still, Lee was not happy.
“Penalties and this and this, that’s my fault. I’ve got to get them ready,” he said. “Isaac, he just lost his composure. He’s going to learn from this.”
At Aloha Stadium
|KS (2-3, 1-2)
|STL (4-0, 3-0)
KS—FG Adam Stack 39
STL—Chris Sykes 15 pass from Tua Tagovailoa (Jacob Tobias kick)
STL—Dylan Silva 2 run (Tobias kick)
STL—Tosh Kekahuna-Kalawe 6 pass from Tagovailoa (Tobias kick)
STL—Austin Tuisano 3 run (Tobias kick)
STL—Silva 8 run (Tobias kick)
RUSHING—Kamehameha: Kanoa Shannon 20-93, Breden Akima 4-19, Nathan Utu 1-7, Yam 4-(-15), Trever Kahunahana 1-1. Saint Louis: Silva 8-64, Tagovailoa 8-12, Keoki Wela 3-1, Tuisano 2-7, Chevan Cordeiro 1-20.
PASSING—Kamehameha: Yam 14-29-2—171. Saint Louis: Tagovailoa 20-35-0—258.
RECEIVING—Kamehameha: Chris Ah Mook Sang 3-48, Jaykob Cabunoc 6-115, Shannon 2-(-2), Sheldon Rosa 3-10. Saint Louis: Kekahuna-Kalawe 5-72, Noah Alejado 2-18 Ronson Young 3-18, Jaymason Nunuha 1-32, Silva 1-13, Sykes 1-15, Chandler Washington-Villanueva 3-48, Jonah Panoke 2-23, Tuisano 1-7, Mitchell Quinn 1-12.