Provo, Utah >> One could be forgiven for thinking the Kahuku Red Raiders were actually playing a home game on Saturday.
Additional bleacher seating for 2,000 people was installed at Timpview High School and the game was moved from Friday to Saturday to help accommodate the fan interest from those previously associated with Kahuku and now living in Utah.
And the crowd of around 6,500 — more clad in red than Thunderbird orange and blue — saw the visiting Red Raiders cruise to a 34-14 victory.
“We’re very grateful for Timpview. They’ve been a gracious host for us all week,” Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho said. “To get our players to play in a different atmosphere, climate, different school — it was an honor.”
“It was rough in the beginning because of the air, of course,” said Red Raiders quarterback Tiger Adolpho of the elevation of close to 5,000 feet in Provo. “Once we got acclimated, it was great.”
The game was essentially a stalemate until Kahuku (4-1) got a couple of big offensive plays on its fourth possession. In a drive that started at the Red Raiders’ 8-yard line, a 23-yard scramble by Adolpho got his team away from its own end zone and to the 35.
Four plays later, Adolpho dumped a short pass to Lalio Kaluna, who then rambled 44 yards down the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
The next two TDs for the Raiders, however, were courtesy of seniors Ace Kaufusi and Kana Fonoimoana-Vaomu — not the most likely of suspects.
With 37 seconds left in the first half, Fonoimoana-Vaumu blocked a punt by Timpview (1-3) and Kaufusi fell on it in the end zone.
Then, just over six minutes into the third quarter, the roles were reversed. On another T-Bird attempted punt, this time it was Kaufusi who swatted the kick and Fonoimoana-Vaomu deftly picked up the loose ball and ran a few yards for another score.
“Everybody just rallied to the ball. We’ve got some dogs on our team who are willing to put their bodies in front of anyone and sacrifice for the team,” Kaufusi said.
“We came in with one purpose — to win and create history for our school and represent the 808,” he added. “We did pretty good. We have a lot to work on for our big game next week (against Saint Louis), but I’m proud of what we’ve done.”
Timpview’s own struggles at quarterback, no doubt, were a major contributing factor in the game.
The Thunderbirds offered some early threats with starting signal-caller Elijah Allen, but Allen suffered a concussion in the middle of the second quarter. Neither of the next two players to be sent in at QB were listed as quarterbacks.
Raider Damuni, named after the Red Raiders program by his father, BYU assistant and Kahuku alum Jack Damuni, was at wide receiver to start the game. After a couple of series, he was replaced at quarterback by running back Sione Moa, who was playing with a soft cast on his left hand.
By the time Timpview was able to generate any offense, the Raiders held a commanding 28-0 lead following a 26-yard TD pass from Adolpho to Lokana Enos with 4:52 in the third.
Carvalho, after the game, noted the struggles Kahuku has had over the years playing on the mainland.
“It feels good to finally win. The last time Kahuku won, some of these boys weren’t even born,” the Red Raiders coach said. “Hats off to them, they were resilient to the end. And everybody who came on the trip was able to play as well.”