Marcus Lombard put it bluntly.
“Punahou gave us cracks at first,” the Kahuku right guard said.
It was a confession rooted in respect, of course, nothing illegal or dirty. Punahou’s defense brought some hammers and stuffed Kahuku’s ground game for some time in their Open Division clash on Saturday night at Carleton E. Weimer Field. But Kahuku didn’t stop. The body blows kept coming. The inside-the-tackles trench work gradually wore down Punahou’s stout front seven to pull out a 41-28 win.
It mattered to Kahuku, which is now 2-0, though neither win counts in the OIA’s standings. Games against ILH teams in this new OIA-ILH alliance don’t count for OIA teams, though they do count in the ILH standings.
It didn’t matter to the O-line or any other unit on Kahuku’s sideline.
“We’re playing every game the same way,” coach Sterling Carvalho said.
By definition, Kahuku did it with full frontal force. By game’s end, the home team racked up 324 rushing yards on 49 carries, and three Red Raiders amassed at least 87 yards on the ground. Toalei Lefau had 114 yards on 13 attempts, including a 65-yard touchdown jaunt that featured at least two nifty cutbacks. Wes Alo-Maiava carried the ball 23 times for 87 yards and four touchdowns, including three out of sets that began as the Michigan-style centipede, but turned into wildcat formations.
Quarterback Robbie Sauvao, making his second career start, passed for 192 yards and ran for 115 more. The bulk came on two big runs to help fuel Kahuku in the second half.
All in all, however, it was defense and adjustments that stymied a hot Punahou passing offense. Making his first career start, Hugh Brady finished with 311 passing yards, but was limited to 9-for-25 accuracy with two picks for 78 yards in his last 10 possessions.
A Kahuku offensive line that turned the tide, allowing the defense to rest, made the biggest difference.
“It’s a testament to all the work they put in during the offseason,” Carvalho said.
“They’re the first in the weight room every time,” Sauvao added.
And those staggering blows handed out by Punahou’s tough defensive unit, well, Kahuku just refused to panic or change the game plan.
“We figured out their alignments and what we needed to do better,” Lombard said.