Buffanblu’s first play from scrimmage is a deep post to Kanawai Noa, incomplete. But he was open. He got behind the Crusaders.
Saint Louis did the same with Ryder Kuhns going deep to Drew Kobayashi on a pass that was just a bit long and off his fingertips.
6:30 – Larry Tuileta finds Micah Ma‘a for a 23-yard touchdown pass on third down. Punahou 7, Saint Louis 0.
10:43 – Busted coverage allows tight end Spencer Johnson to get wide open and score on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Kuhns. Too easy. Tumuauatasi Tuinei of Punahou blocked the extra-point try. Punahou 7, Saint Louis 6.
9:32 – Saint Louis takes a timeout after surrendering a 66-yard pass from Tuileta to Noa, who beat Jaisen Sanchez. The Crusaders CB was able to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the 9-yard line.
9:21 – Noa hauls in a lob from Tuileta and manages to stay inbounds at the back of the end zone. That was quick work. Punahou 14, Saint Louis 6.
Tuileta hasn’t had a lot of time to throw on most snaps, but he got plenty on that play with some nimble footwork in the pocket. Meanwhile, Punahou’s defense, spearheaded by Tuinei, has really contained STL RB Adam Noga.
Boyd Chung sacked Kuhns on third-and-18. Tough times for the STL offense.
4:36 – The Crusaders needed a break and made their own. They forced a fumble by Tuileta with a heavy pass rush and Matthew Mariota returned the ball about 45 yards to paydirt. PAT kick is good. Punahou 14, Saint Louis 13.
4:20 – No wasted time for Punahou. Tuileta connects with Noa on a deep post for a 64-yard touchdown. He beat his man by 5 yards. Punahou 21, Saint Louis 13.
2:48 – Buffanblu in man coverage. Kuhns made them pay. He found Devan Stubblefield down the left sideline and he broke two tackles, dragging the second guy to the goal line to score on a 57-yard touchdown. STL misses the PAT. Punahou 21, Saint Louis 19.
Halftime: Punahou 21, Saint Louis 19. The Crusaders drove deep into Punahou territory in the final minute of the half and stalled. Christopher Quinn was wide left on a 28-yard field-goal try as time expired.
Courtesy of the Bonecrusher (Billy Hull): At the half, Punahou and Saint Louis have a combined 511 total yards. Punahou QB Larry Tuileta is 12-for-24, 213 yards with three TDs, no picks. Kanawai Noa has four receptions for 143 yards and two TDs. Saint Louis QB Ryder Kuhns is 15-for-27, 248 yards, two TDs, no picks. Devan Stubblefield has eight catches for 121 yards, two TDs. Not bad.
Dave Reardon said he saw Kuhns get hurt on a scramble during the latter part of the final drive of the half. We’ll see if he’s back for the second half.
Looks like Kuhns is OK, but…
First two plays from scrimmage in the second half, the Crusaders suffer injuries. First Allan Cui (shoulder?) and now Drew Kobayashi (ankle?). That’s two of their top three receivers. People will just have to step up or Punahou will bring big heat on Kuhns.
8:49 – Cui is fine. He just returned a punt a bout 30 yards into Punahou territory.
8:01 – Gap Band in session. Kuhns dropped another bomb on Punahou, a 47-yard strike to Stubblefield down the left sideline. He put a lot of air under it and let his speedy teammate get under it. PAT pass is incomplete. Saint Louis 25, Punahou 21.
7:29 – We were wondering where Wayne Taulapapa was, and then he broke off a 46-yard touchdown run. But it was called back for an illegal block penalty.
7:20 – Kotoni Sekona just leaped OVER a Saint Louis tackler on an option pitch left for about 20 yards in all, but was flagged. It’s illegal to hurdle a defender.
2:51 – Both teams killing themselves with penalties. I’m pretty sure there’s been more penalty yardage than regular yardage in this quarter. Punahou on the move now, running the triple option out of some funky pistol, two- and three-back sets. Nice.
1:01 Sweet setup by the Buffanblu as their pistol option package leads to an easy 30-yard play-action TD pass from Tuileta to TE Dakota Torres. Punahou 28, Saint Louis 25.
:30 Cui limps off with an ankle (?) injury. Two injuries in one quarter for that guy.
9:23 – Second and goal from the 5, Tuileta to Torres on a play-action pass for a touchdown. Punahou 35, Saint Louis 25.
8:45 – Cui on an end-around, gains about 15 yards for a first down. This guy has a high threshold of pain. Pretty sure about that.
5:40 – It ain’t over. Kuhns hits Kobayashi on a play-action slant, a 2-yard TD pass. The Crusaders make the PAT and pull within 35-32.
3:45 – Buffanblu driving steadily downfield using that sledgehammer three-back set, running the triple option off it. No real way to shut this down by any defense I know of. With Sekona and Taulapapa in this formation, it’s a tough challenge for any unit. Especially since Punahou hadn’t shown this up to this point, from what I know.
2:05 – Saint Louis called timeout with Punahou facing fourth and 9 (after a procedure penalty earlier) on the Crusaders 32-yard line. Then Punahou called time.
1:34 – Saint Louis sacked Tuileta, but was whistled for facemask. Three yellow flags came flying in. Then on fourth and 10, Tuileta hit Noa on an out route for a first down on the right sideline.
1:16 – Saint Louis burned its final timeout. Punahou second and 5 at the 17.
FINAL: Punahou 35, Saint Louis 32. Down the stretch, when Punahou wanted to churn out rushing yardage, it did. There was little a tough Saint Louis defense could do.
Talking with Punahou coach Kale Ane and QB Larry Tuileta after the game was a bit of a revelation. The version of their three-back, triple-option offense that they operated today was installed within the past 24 hours. Amazing.
I don’t watch a lot of college football, so it’s not accurate for me to say there isn’t another formation like this in the game. It is a pistol. And sometimes an I that was moved up behind a guard or tackle, operating more like an unbalanced line.
Then add in a third back, not quite a wingback, but running the option pitch with the QB, not unlike the flexbone. As well as Saint Louis’ defense played tonight, how could they adapt without prior warning?
Impressive. I’ve always been a fan of good option offense, going back to the J.C. Watts/Billy Sims era at the U. of Oklahoma. This was unstoppable, even if Tuileta claims there were some blocking issues. Larry Tuileta, elite passer-turned-option savant/running quarterback. Who saw that coming?