Castle 28, No. 7 Moanalua 14, Final
Kealohi snakes away from pass rushers, but is sacked for a loss of nearly 30 yards. He isn’t giving up. He zig-zags for a zany pickup of about 30 yards. Next play, Moanalua OL is injured with :11 left. Turnover on downs, Castle ball. Castle takes a knee and the upset of the night is official.
Kealohi rolls right, throws a lateral to lineman Noah Enrico, but before big 50 can make a play, the white hat calls the play dead. Enrico reported as a legal receiver to the side judge, but the head ref didn’t know. Aww…
Moanalua has to lineup goal-line style to have a chance, but Punivai makes them pay. He rips through two tackles at the line of scrimmage, then bounces outside while breaking an arm tackle and blazes to the left pylon for a 16-yard TD. That should do it. CASTLE 28, MOANALUA 14, 1:40, Q4.
WOH. Punivai launches a fluttering spiral that finds WR Jonah Figueroa for a 22-yard gain on third and 7 to the Moanalua 22. Figueroa outleaped the CB for the ball, what a catch. Time running out on MOA. Third and 5, Punivai darts, shifts and eludes a tackler just enough to pick up the first down. Clutch. Moanalua calls its final time out with 1:46 left. Ball is at the Mene 16.
Moanalua will never know what Kealohi might do with one more series at QB unless they get a stop. And right now, Punivai is churning out yardage and chewing up the clock. He has gained two more first downs out of the elephant. One was right up the gut, shredding tacklers. Time out, 3:08. Castle ball at the Moanalua 48, third and 7.
Sometimes, not always, but sometimes the best thing for an offense is to move the best playmaker to QB. That’s what Castle did this year with Punivai. Honokaa did it with Davin “Taich” Alip in the 1990s, turning around from an 0-3 start to a strong run that nearly netted a title. Maybe now it’s Kealohi, out of necessity, who will do the trick for Moanalua.
Au scrambles from the left hashmark to the first down marker on the right sideline, then takes a late hit out of bounds. He’s down and injured. 6:19 left and a new QB is on the field for Moanalua, ball at the Castle 23. It’s the WR and backup QB, Rudy Kealohi. He fakes a sideline pass, darts through the middle of the field, jukes a safety and scores easily on a 17-yard run. WOW. CASTLE 21, MOANALUA 14, 6:05, Q4.
4th and 12 for Moanalua at the Castle 32, Au with a lateral pass to Kealohi, who launches a bomb that is just inches beyond the grasp of Ezra Grace at the goal line. Great call, just inches short. Castle ball with just over 8 minutes left. Castle up 21-7.
Just a few plays after the Moanalua turnover, Punivai does his magic again. He finds a crease and splits through the left side of Moanalua’s defense for a 47-yard TD. I believe he was untouched. CASTLE 21, MOANALUA 7, 9:17, Q4.
Moanalua on the march now with less than 11 minutes left. Castle has given a 7- to 10-yard cushion to receivers all game, and now Nick Au is drilling his guys for quick catch-and-run gains. Illegal block sets MOA back to the Castle 46. Two plays later, Au’s pass over the middle is deflected and intercepted by Justice Ching. Castle ball at its 46 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The third quarter has been a demonstration of ball control by John Hao’s Knights. They have mixed in another QB, Kanaipono Kahala-Giron, who is a better passer, but it’s Punivai who blasts between the tackles for a first down on fourth-and-2 in the red zone. Punivai races around left end out of the elephant formation for a 5-yard TD. The PAT kick is wide right. CASTLE 14, MOANALUA 7, 4:17, Q3.
Castle QB Senituli Punivai breaks off a long run, and then gets injured one play later (shoulder). Cheydon Costa’s 39-yard FG is good and Castle has the lead. CASTLE 8, MOANALUA 7, :15, Q2.
Castle lines up for a 49-yard FG try, but the holder can’t hold the snap and the play is snuffed out. Moanalua ball at its 35, 5:05 left, Q2. Moanalua still leads 7-5.
SAFETY. Moanalua is called for holding in the end zone, automatic 2 points for Castle. Nothing weird about this game at all… MOANALUA 7, CASTLE 5, Q2.
The first quarter ends with a miss from 19 yards out by normally automatic placekicker Griffin Motas. Moanalua still leads 7-3.
Another takeaway by Na Menehune. Jacob Copeland hustles on punt coverage and recovers a fumble at the Castle 42-yard line with 2:27 left in the first quarter.
Luke Palalay picks off an overthrown pass and returns it to the Castle 32. Next play, Nick Au to Rudy Kealohi on the deep post, wide open, and the cuts back to the left pylon past a defender for the TD. Instant offense, that one. MOANALUA 7, CASTLE 3, 6:20, Q1.
Bad start for Moanalua when one of the up men muffs a squib kickoff, recovered by Castle. Knights are the clear underdog and every break is huge. Tight formation, Castle stopped and Cheydon Costa line-drives a 31-yard field goal just over the crossbar. CASTLE 3, MOANALUA 0, 9:00, Q1.
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