Embedded within Hugh Brady’s bounce-back performance on Friday were several examples of the Punahou quarterback’s resilience.
Coming off a tough second half in a season-opening loss to Kahuku, Brady turned in a brilliant first half against Kapolei to help power the fifth-ranked Buffanblu to a 34-21 win over the No. 9 Hurricanes.
Punahou elected to receive the opening kickoff and Brady led the Buffanblu to two quick first downs. But on the sixth play of the possession, Kapolei’s Samson Faleafine dropped Brady — who absorbed eight sacks against Kahuku — for a 7-yard loss to bring up third-and-15. Undeterred, Brady shook it off and fired a strike down the right side to Tamatoa Falatea for a 31-yard completion to the Kapolei 9.
On third-and-goal, Brady’s throw over the middle fell at the feet of an open Kanoa Kalahiki in the end zone. The Buffanblu coaches put their faith in Brady on fourth down and this time he stuck the throw into Kalahiki’s chest for the first of three touchdown passes in the first half.
“I think we had a lot of momentum to ride from last week,” said Brady, who threw for 311 yards and two scores against Kahuku. “We watched film and learned from our mistakes and our mentality was new play, just flush the last one and I think we did well executing tonight.”
Brady, a junior, finished his night with 16 completions in 22 attempts for 209 yards with touchdown passes to Kalahiki, Moku Dancil-Evans and Koa Eldredge and Punahou took a 34-0 lead into halftime.
Falatea was the most frequent target and he finished with eight catches for 112 working with Brady and sophomore Kobe Muasau, who took over late in the first half and played the entire second half.
“Hugh is getting better every time he gets a chance,” Punahou coach Kale Ane said. “It was nice to be able to get Kobe some opportunities to play and he’s definitely learning but he’s going to be a force soon as well.”
Punahou put in its reserves in the second half and Kapolei, which mustered 56 total yards before halftime, took control of the line of scrimmage. Kapolei running back Zion-Jabez Robello ran for 86 of his 111 yards in the second half with a touchdown and Ezekiel Waiolama added 90 yards and a score after the break.
Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said quarterback Christian Rapis could be out for the season with a hip injury suffered last week against Kamehameha. Sophomore Noa Bailey started for the Hurricanes on Friday and freshman Mason Gomez took over in the third quarter.
“We’re going to have to ride that tandem and see which guy wins the job,” Hernandez said. “We’re going to give them reps and we’re going to see which guy peaks. We have a solid nucleus we just need to find that triggerman.”
When he wasn’t handing the ball off, Gomez completed all three of his passes, the last a 90-yard touchdown to De’Zhaun Stribling that chopped Punahou’s lead to 34-21 with 4:52 left.
Kapolei appeared to build on the momentum when kicker Micah Fonoti recovered his own onside kick despite taking a jarring hit. But the officials ruled the Hurricanes touched the ball before it travelled 10 yards and Punahou took possession.
Kapolei would get another possession and, with many of the Punahou starters back in on defense, came up inches short on a fourth down at its own 24. Vincent Terrell, who set up his two 2-yard touchdown run in the first half with a 39-yard reception, returned to action late in the fourth and covered 24 yards on three carries to allow the Buffanblu to run out the clock.
Punahou’s run of road games continues next week at Farrington. Kapolei, after losses to Kamehameha and Punahou, travels to the North Shore to face No. 2 Kahuku in the Hurricanes’ first OIA game.