It’s not often a defensive player scores a touchdown.
Or two touchdowns. In a span of 18 seconds. For Alaka‘i Gilman, it was a second quarter to remember. The Punahou safety was in the right place at the right time, returning a fumble 25 yards to paydirt, then turning an interception into a pick-6 form 30 yards out, boosting the lead to 28-0 as No. 2 Punahou overwhelmed Waianae 52-0 on Friday night.
Punahou finished regular-season play 6-2 overall, 5-2 in ILH Open play and will meet Kamehameha on Friday in the league playoffs.
Gilman credited teammate Trent Shiraki for making the hit that forced the fumble on his first TD. But in family lore, Gilman did something even his talented older brother — and former Kahuku All-State standout — Alohi Gilman, now playing for Notre Dame — never did.
“I’ve got to credit my brother, but at the same time, I don’t know if he can say he’s done this,” he said.
It was Punahou’s second win ever at Raymond Torii Field. The teams last met in 2008, a 37-21 win for Punahou at Alexander Field. In the previous meeting between the teams at Torii Field, Punahou prevailed 21-12 in ’06. Waianae won the four previous matchups with the Buffanblu.
Buffanblu coach Kale Ane praised his team’s composure, especially after a game-opening turnover. The Waianae front seven, led by defensive tackle Zefften Thompson-Avilla, was a force.
“They triple-teamed him,” Waianae coach Walter Young noted.
That allowed Punahou’s offense to rack up big chunks of yardage. Hugh Brady played just one half, passing for 164 yards on 10-for-16 attempts with TD tosses of 30 yards (Moku Dancil-Evans), 25 yards (Koa Eldredge) and 40 yards (Tamatoa Falatea).
“Hugh got comfortable and got settled down, made his keys and made his reads. He made good decisions and was very accurate,” Ane said. “It’s something you fight through. It’s good to see kids get through adversity.”
Waianae dropped to 1-7 overall, but is still in the hunt for a playoff berth in the OIA Open standings, where they are 1-3. The front seven has been stellar against the run all season long, and the pass rush was a challenge for Punahou in the first quarter.
“We always tweak, even when were winning,” Ane said. “Their defense is outstanding. We kept the back in, we slid a little bit to certain sides, threw the ball a little quicker. A combination of several things. I’m just glad their offense didn’t pound us today. Their bread and butter is they want to run the ball.”
Punahou rushed for just 37 yards on 15 carries, but Brady and reserve quarterback Kobe Muasau combined for 322 passing yards.
Punahou’s defense, led by Maninoa Tufono — and his 39 scholarship offers — limited the home team to 18 rushing yards on 27 carries. Shaydon Lopes did not start at quarterback for the Seariders, but entered the game after Kevin Poepoe suffered an ankle injury.
The play-action off the wing-T was successful for Lopes, but Waianae’s best shot at scoring ended in the red zone when the QB was sacked on fourth-and-goal early in the third quarter.
“Defensively, overall we did a pretty good job,” Young said. “We’ve still got a lot of to work on.”
Young said they started Lopes at running back because of injuries to the position. Kaai Tambaoan-Kaeo is done for the season due to a shoulder injury.
“He’s had surgery on that shoulder before,” Young said.
Even with the struggle in Open play, Waianae is still in the playoff hunt. A win over Campbell next week at Torii Field would give the Seariders a mathematical chance to earn the fourth and final playoff berth. Waianae has been to the state semifinal round the past three seasons.
“Overall, we’ve just got to get better. Our kids didn’t put their head down and they stayed together,” Young said.
Thompson-Avilla, who had eight punts with a long of 50 yards, is hoping for a resurgence by Waianae.
“Everybody was pushing, but eventually some guys gave up and that’s when our pass rush died down,” he said. “We’ve got to have better practices with a winning mentality. This week, we didn’t have any good practices and it showed. Everybody’s got to hold themselves accountable and realize there’s everybody else on the team is counting on him to do his job.”