Saint Louis effectively snuffed Campbell’s hopes for an upset in its first five possessions on Friday.
Although the top-ranked Crusaders’ lead wasn’t seriously threatened over the remainder of a 48-27 win over the No. 4 Sabers, the last two-plus quarters left Saint Louis coach Cal Lee somewhat less than satisfied on his way to the team bus after the OIA-ILH Open Division matchup in Ewa Beach.
“I think sometimes human nature becomes involved and you start to relax a little bit,” Lee said. “We have to make sure they don’t do that anymore.
“I’ll make sure they get the message on Monday, for sure.”
Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura led the Crusaders to the end zone on their first five drives and finished the game 22-for-37 for 267 yards and four touchdowns, two each going to Matthew Sykes and Koali Nishigaya.
Even so, de Laura echoed Lee’s sentiments after the Crusaders’ 28th consecutive victory.
“I felt like we got into a good groove, and I think we got complacent and things just fell apart,” de Laura said. “That’s something we need to work on and I need to work on, just execute and finish the drives when we get the ball.”
Campbell sophomore quarterback Blaine Hipa threw for 224 yards and four touchdowns, three going to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, who finished with 89 yards on nine receptions. Hipa was also intercepted three times.
The three-time defending Open Division state champion Crusaders, ranked 12th in the USA Today Super 25, face 18th-ranked Nevada power Bishop Gorman on Friday at Aloha Stadium as part of the Aloha Football Classic.
“Tomorrow we’ll watch film and get ready,” de Laura said. “That starts now. We can’t live on this win, we didn’t play a really good game, but it’s over, we got that win.”
The outcome against an ILH team didn’t impact Campbell’s standing heading into an OIA game at No. 5 Kahuku a week from today.
The Saint Louis defense came up with a fourth-down stop on Campbell’s first drive and de Laura connected with Sykes for a 30-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
After de Laura capped an eight-play drive with a 20-yard scoring pass to Nishigaya, the Saint Louis defense forced turnovers on Campbell’s next two plays from scrimmage to feed the offense for two more scores.
Defensive lineman Stanley McKenzie pounced on a fumble deep in Campbell territory and Kainalu Tumpap scored from 4 yards out on the next play. After an interception by Kamo’i Latu, de Laura went 5-for-6 on a nine-play drive and finished with a 9-yard touchdown to Sykes to give the Crusaders a 27-0 lead.
Campbell broke through early in the second quarter when Hipa scrambled for 18 yards to the Saint Louis 9 then hit Mokiao-Atimalala for a touchdown on the next play.
Saint Louis responded with de Laura finding Nishigaya again down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Sabers endured a scary moment when Mokiao-Atimalala took a hard shot while reaching for a pass over the middle and stayed on the ground. He was able to walk off the field and the Sabers marched downfield and scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hipa to Zavier Ceruti to draw Campbell to 34-14 at halftime.
In a largely stagnant third quarter, de Laura extended the lead to 41-14 with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Mokiao-Atimalala returned to action in the second half and caught touchdown passes of 15 and 25 yards.