No. 2 Punahou needed a lot of it Friday against No. 6 Kamehameha and is going to need a lot more of it as it grinds its way through the OIA-ILH Open Division slate.
Held scoreless for three quarters, the Buffanblu bided their time until they got the game-turning play on special teams — a blocked punt courtesy of senior Alaka’i Gilman.
Senior Koa Eldredge then caught two touchdown passes from freshman John-Keawe Sagapolutele in a five-minute span in the fourth quarter and the end result was a 15-5 win over the Warriors.
Punahou (3-0, 2-0 ILH Open) and Kamehameha (0-2, 0-2) played at Alexander Field for the first time in 88 years and much of the game looked like it was played in 1931.
The Buffanblu had just 155 total yards in the game with 56 coming on the two TD passes.
“It was very challenging,” Punahou coach Kale Ane said. “You just have to grind it out and be patient and trust the process … it was a battle all the way and it was a very ugly win.”
Sagapolutele made his first start with senior Hugh Brady suffering a torn ACL in a win over Farrington last week.
He finished 9-for-23 for 122 yards but made the two big throws late to Eldredge, who hadn’t caught a touchdown pass yet this season.
“I was saying the whole game I had a one-on-one on the outside and I just wanted to take advantage of that,” said Eldredge, who has committed to Brigham Young to play both baseball and football. “I told John to throw it up and he did and I made a play.”
The Warriors opened the game with 37 yards on their opening drive and got a 35-yard field goal by Preston Rezentes to take an early 3-0 lead.
The two teams combined for only 31 yards the rest of the half as both offenses struggled.
A bad snap on the first Punahou punt attempt of the game rolled out of the end zone for a safety for the only other points before intermission.
Kamehameha attempted four passes and rushed 21 times in the first half while Punahou was more balanced, but struggled to get any consistency out of either its rushing offense or passing attack.
“They controlled the ball and the tempo in the first half,” Ane said. “We had to remind everybody it was 5-0, we were right in the game, it was a one-score game and our quarterback persevered and came back strong in the second half which is good to see.”
Sagapolutele hit Moku Dancil-Evans down the middle for 37 yards on his first throw of the second half, but Punahou couldn’t score until a big play on special teams.
Gilman, who normally receives punts, came up with the punt block to give Punahou the ball at the Kamehameha 23.
“Coach thought there was an opportunity for me to come off the edge and block it and we had some room to do that,” Gilman said. “I told him the punt before when I wasn’t in, I said, ‘Coach I’m going to get that punt. Let me get out there and get that.’ “
Kamehameha finished with 140 total yards. Junior quarter Kiai Keone was 10-for-21 for 88 yards.