First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I Football State Championships
No. 1 Punahou (8-0) vs. No. 2 Mililani (12-0)
PUN Series 1: Game’s first down is a third-and-9 pass to Heisman Hosoda, who is apparently healthy enough to play (leg). Buffanblu are in usual no-huddle mode, but not a true hurry-up at this time. As expected, the Buffanblu go to TE Matthew Christman (6-3, 235), who pulls in an 11-yard pass for a first down. Both completions were over the middle. Punahou stalls, however, partly because of an illegal procedure call. Time out, MIL, 9:01. PUN will punt on fourth-and-13. Alex Trifonovitch’s punt is downed inside the 10, but there’s a penalty on PUN. Re-punt. Punt goes 36 yards. Bronson Ramos returns it 20 yards to the 33, 8:39.
MIL Series 1: Trojans in no-huddle, hurry-up mode. McKenzie Milton leads the offense on a seven-play scoring drive. Big pass to Kalakaua Timoteo for 28 yards down the right sideline, plus a roughing-the-passer call on PUN. Milton lobs a 13-yard TD pass to Timoteo in the right corner. MIL 7, PUN 0, 7:07.
PUN Series 2: A couple of big penalties didn’t hurt PUN at all. Ephraim has a 45-yard pass to Kala‘i Santos, and two plays later finds him on the other (right) sideline for a smooth 48-yard TD pass on play-action. PUN 7, MIL 7, 6:18.
MIL Series 2: Bad news for the Trojans. RT Jordan Agasiva goes down on the fourth play of the series on a run by Vavae Malepeai. He limps off the field. Next play, Milton delivers a strike on a deep post to Kainoa Wilson, who shreds a tackle and goes 61 yards for the TD. PAT kick is blocked by 6-foot-7 Canton Kaumatule. MIL 13, PUN 7, 5:16.
That was the first pass attempt that didn’t go to Timoteo after six throws by Milton.
PUN Series 3: Kanawai Noa returns the kick 38 yards to the PUN 42. Then he takes a reverse lateral and runs 25 yards down the right sideline. That reverse is working well for the Buffanblu. Third-and-10, Tuliloa drops the snap, but improvises and runs for 12 yards. Another MIL lineman is down, this time DT Kahewai Ka’aiawa’awa. Injury time out, 4:08. Ka’aiawa’awa is able to walk off the field under his own power.
Tuliloa’s next play after the injury time out is a pass intended for a slotback, but cornerback Ty Purcell-Apana leaves his man, jumps the pass and picks it off. He cuts back against the grain and goes 83 yards for a TD. Trojan fans are going NUTS. MIL 20, PUN 7, 3:45.
PUN Series 4: Buffanblu recover a squib kick, nearly fumbled. Play-action pass on first down overthrown by Tuliloa (for Hosoda). PUN really reluctant to run on first down. Third-and-3, screen pass to Wayne Taulapapa overthrown, big rush by DE Kaimana Padello. PUN looks out of sync. Trifonovich with a nice rugby-style punt that hits a big bounce to the 10, but Ramos returns it 23 yards to the 33.
MIL Series 3: Trojan offense is moving fast and moving forward. Milton hits Wilson for 9 yards and a first down, then scrambles, stays behind the line of scrimmage and hits Ramos for a 41-yard gain. Two plays later, Milton to Timoteo on another fade route and he hauls it in at the right corner for a 13-yard TD. PAT kick bounces off the left upright, just about the only thing MIL doing wrong so far. MIL 26, PUN 7, 1:15.
PUN Series 5: Still early and the Buffanblu have the perfect offense for coming back from a big deficit. Moving with urgency here. Tuliloa completes three passes for first downs (Micah Ma‘a, Hosoda, Noa) and avoids a sack, getting a 1-yard gain as the quarter ends. Wild first quarter.
Taulapapa bolts for an 18-yard gain, breaking tackles. PUN crowd comes to life. Tuliloa’s end zone pass to Noa is incomplete, but MIL called for holding. Tuliloa scores on a 4-yard keeper. MIL 26, PUN 14, 11:16.
So much for a defensive duel.
MIL Series 4: Jet Toner’s kickoff lands behind the end zone, touchback. PUN jumps offside on first down. Even so, it’s a three-and-out by MIL. Milton stopped on an unusual fake-pass keeper for no gain. Punt goes to Noa, who is hit on the catch and the ball is returned about 35 yards for an apparent TD, but officials rule the muff cannot be returned. High school rule. MIL ball at the PUN 36, big, big break.
Nice screen pass to Malepeai for 18 yards, but holding penalty brings it back some to the 28. Milton uncoils another corner strike, with Timoteo making an unbelievable Willy Mays-type catch in the left corner of the end zone for a 28-yard TD. PUN coverage is tight, but Milton and his receivers are playing incredible football. MIL 33, PUN 14, 10:00.
PUN Series 6: Taulapapa running like a beast, gaining 34 yards and 13 on the first two plays of the series. Time out, Mililani, 9:36. Taulapapa for 16 and 7 yards, unstoppable. Drive ends with a 6-yard TD pass from Tuliloa to Noa at the left pylon. Good checkdown (I’m guessing) as MIL stuffed the box. MIL 33, PUN 21, 8:52.
MIL Series 5: Ramos has been great on returns tonight. This one is 35 yards to the MIL 37. Trojans marching without much resistance from PUN. Four runs on the first five plays. Then Milton gets trigger happy. A 14-yard toss to Timoteo. An incomplete pass to Timoteo deep, then he goes to slotback Makana Tauai, who is wide open inside the 10. He scores on a 37-yard TD and the Trojans are in a magical zone.
Penalty on PUN (PAT), MIL calls time out. Run left by Malepeai is stopped short. MIL 39, PUN 21, 7:15.
Milton already has four TD passes. He’s piercing this tough PUN defense like he knows it well.
PUN Series 7: A 38-yard return on the kickoff by Noa is a huge boost for the Buffanblu. Tuliloa keeps for 17 yards, personal foul on MIL tacks on 15 more. Now PUN has fourth-and-4 at the MIL 20, 5:00. They could get Toner to kick here, send a message to the defense that it’s time to lock down. But they’re going for it. Reverse and pass by Noa?
It’s Taulapapa on the left, spins out of a tackle and rumbles 20 yards to paydirt. Great run. MIL 39, PUN 28, 4:53.
MIL Series 6: Another Toner kickoff lands behind the end zone for a touchback. He’s No. 1 in the Chris Sailer ratings for kickers in the class of 2016. Third-and-5, Malepeai squirms out of trouble for 11 yards and a first down. Trojans mixing it up with Malepeai and short passes. 22-yard run by Malepeai gives MIL first down at the PUN 7, 1:14, PUN time out. Malepeai breaks a tackle on the left and scores, but holding is called. Ball back to the 17.
Next snap, Milton to Wilson in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard TD. MIL 46, PUN 28, 1:00. They left too much time on the clock for Punahou.
PUN Series 8: Noa with a 33-yard return to the PUN 44. Not sure why they keep kicking to him. Taulapapa off left tackle for a 21-yard pickup. PUN calls time out with :07 left. Toner for 53 yards. Kick is high enough and barely clears the crossbar. MIL 46, PUN 31, :00.
The place is still buzzing after a record-setting first half by Mililani and Punahou.
>> Milton is 16-for-24, 307 yards, six TDs and no picks. He’s had a lot of great games this season, but this is really stunning. He has no fear whatsoever throwing the ball down the sidelines and challenging Punahou’s CBs. He has also run for 37 yards.
Milton has also surpassed the 3,000-yard mark as a passer this season. He currently has 3,225 yards through the air.
>> Malepeai has 66 rushing yards on 10 carries, and that workload is expected to increase in the second half. He also has two catches for 26 yards.
>> Timoteo has five catches for 92 yards and three TDs. That’s already his single-game high for the season (and his career).
>> Taulapapa already has 143 yards on just 15 carries with one TD. He’s been fresh all season due to Punahou’s shortened schedule and numerous blowout games, i.e. light workloads.
>> Tuliloa is 10-for-16, 172 yards, two TDs and one TD. For most QBs, that’s a fine game, not just one half.
>> Santos has three grabs for 95 yards, quiet since the first quarter.
>> Noa has been held to three receptions for 18 yards (and a TD). No defense has been able to hold him down for an entire game with the exception of blowout wins when he sat early.
MIL Series 7: Trojans marching steadily, but Milton gets a little greedy and forces a deep pass to Timoteo. He had single coverage on earlier plays in this series, but this time the safety Bun Robert Straton leaps and picks it off, touchback.
PUN Series 9: Huge swing in momentum. Instead of falling behind by three TDs, PUN has opportunity and makes the most of it. A 12-play, 80-yard drive, short passes, tough runs and Taulapapa scores from the 1. MIL 46, PUN 38, 7:36.
MIL Series 8: Trojan offense back at work. Malepeai gains 9, then 10 yards, but is down and injured at midfield. Needs help getting up. This doesn’t look good, Big applause from PUN and MIL fans. He can’t put any weight on his right leg. Not sure, but he did have ankle problems early in the year. Huge event here. Cheyne Constantino enters at RB.
Trojans persist, even with Malepeai out and RT Agasiva out. Huge first-down pass by Milton to Bronson Ventura for 23 yards on fourth-and-1, wide open on the left sideline similar to the PUN-STL game. Milton has plenty of protection, finds Timoteo in the right corner again in tight coverage. DB had his back to the ball all the way (faceguarding), still hauled in by Timoteo for the 9-yard TD. MIL 53, PUN 38, 3:24.
If you lose a RT and one of the state’s best RBs and still drive on PUN to score a TD, that’s very impressive. Milton is willing this offense to the end zone. That’s SEVEN TOUCHDOWN PASSES for #13.
PUN Series 10: Taulapapa continues to run with fury and power. 15 yards, 6, 1 — then 26 on a third-and-11. That’s confidence. Taulapapa eventually scores on a 5-yard run. Nothing MIL can do, it seems. MIL 53, PUN 45, 1:30.
Both defenses are tired, hands on hips, wilting. At the mercy of the two most potent offenses in the state tourney.
MIL Series 9: Two runs by Constantino for 5 yards, then Milton’s pass to Ventura is deflected Straton, who makes a great diving effort. Milton’s quick kick/punt is downed at the PUN 46, a 29-yard punt.
PUN Series 11: Taulapapa is stuffed at the line for no gain as the third quarter ends.
Tuliloa fumbles on the handoff/keep with Taulapapa, but manages to recover the bouncing ball. Punahou injury: lineman Derek Nishimoto (6-5, 265) with a right leg injury. I believe he’s the starting right tackle.
Tuliloa eludes a fierce pass rush and scrambles for a 17-yard gain and a first down to the MIL 42. Fourth-and-5, Hosoda goes deep form the slot while Tuliloa threw short for a first down. Miscommunication, would’ve been an easy first down. That’s a major change in momentum, wind out of Punahou’s sails.
MIL Series 10: Milton aggressive, finds Ventura on first down for a 12-yard pass. Constantino picks up a first down on the ground. Deep pass to Ventura incomplete. MIL could go conservative and eat clock, but to their credit, they’re going for the kill. Fourth-and-3, out pass to Ventura is broken up by Straton again. The guy is everywhere, jumping the passes. PUN ball.
PUN Series 12: First-down pass from Tuliloa to Hosoda, but PUN stalls. Rex Manu with big pressure to force a third-down incompletion. PUN punt — the snap goes over Trifonovitch’s head, but he recovers and punts to save a major loss of yardage. Ball downed at the MIL 41.
MIL Series 11: Trojans gritting this out. Another procedure call sets them back, but Milton scrambles on third-and-8 and comes up inches short. He has a right calf cramp, but jogs off after being down a minute or two. PUN whistled for illegal substitution on the play, MIL takes the penalty. It’ll be third-and-3, 6:12.
Constantino runs right for 2 yards and a first down, then Milton goes for the jugular. Deep pass to Wilson incomplete, good coverage. Then a 10-yard pass to Ventura, who has become the go-to guy in this quarter. Milton goes deep to Timoteo, great deflection by CB Randon Oda, who comes up with a sore arm.
Constantino comes up big with an 18-yard gain around left tackle. Time out, 3:33, by MIL. It’s third-and-8 at the PUN 18. Short slant pass to Ventura for 6 yards. Fourth-and-2, Trojans will call time out after the let the play clock run down. 2:51, fourth-and-2. Kick or go for it?
Trojans go jumbo set, Constantino runs right. Chain gang on the field. Not close, short by at least 2 feet. PUN ball at its 12.
PUN Series 13: Just 2:47 left for the Buffanblu. Tuliloa coming up big with a short pass to Hosoda, who breaks a tackle and goes 28 yards. Then a 28-yard pass to Noa. Third-and-10, time out, PUN, 1:17, ball at the MIL 29. Great game, great finish… unless this goes to OT.
Kaumatule got back on the field in the last series for PUN, but the RT Nishimoto is still out. MIL still missing Malepeai and Agasiva. Attrition.
MIL gambling with single coverage on Noa. Tuliloa goes to him on a hitch route as the CB dropped deep. First down, PUN injury. PUN has two TO’s left. MIL has one. Kana’I Keenan Eldredge out with the injury, 1:07 left.
Now a bizarre play. Great call, speed option left, Taulapapa gets to the 3, the ball is stripped by Purcell-Apana and flies out of the end zone for an apparent touchback. Flag is down. Conference.
Officials rule the ball was fumbled out of bounds, penalty was on PUN. Replay shows Taulapapa may have been down, PUN fans boo.
MIL Ball, :56 left. Incredible.
MIL Series 12: Milton keeps, 4-yard loss. Time out, PUN. Victory formation, Milton kneels, 2-yard loss, PUN calls its last time out, :49. What a bizarre ending to a great game.
Purcell-Apana played a helluva game. What a win for Mililani.
WAITAMINUTE. Mililani miscalculated on fourth down and the play clock expired before the game clock. :02 on the clock, fourth down. Now, Milton takes the snap, takes a knee at the 1-yard line and it is over.
Had a chance to interview a lot of Trojans after the game since I’m not writing the game story. It was a blessing. The Trojans showed the grace and humility of true champions, and Punahou was, as always, very mature regardless of the outcome.
Trojans coach Rod York was especially proud of their offensive line. Three players battled through injury. One was Agasiva, who was sidelined in the first half. Andru Tovi played through injury, too. Derrick Fetui-Suipaia played to the finish with an injured wrist and an injured foot. Coach York is a down-to-earth coach and gets too high or low, but he was emotional about his O-line. Proud in the best way.
More coming later with game and post-game video. Congratulations to the 2014 Division I state champion Mililani Trojans, and congratulations to the Punahou Buffanblu on a tremendous season.
Best state title game ever? Answer here is yes.
Finally, some insanely big numbers.
>> Taulapapa finished with 260 yards on 36 carries with three TDs. He had 89 carries all season coming into this game. The yardage and carry total are easily his career highs.
>> Tuliloa finished with 285 yards and two TDs on 17-for-33 passing with one pick.
>> Noa finished with five receptions for 61 yards and rushed for 25 yards on two reverses.
>> Malepeai had 89 yards on the ground on 13 carries. York said the trainer’s preliminary diagnosis is a torn ACL, but they won’t know for sure until later.
>> Milton finished with 421 passing yards and seven TDs on 29-for-47 passing with one INT. HE also ran for 38 yards on 13 carries.
>> Timoteo had a team-high 117 yards and four TD catches on seven total receptions. Ventura (8-77), Wilson (4-98, two TDs) and Ramos (4-50) had key plays, as well.
>> Punahou rushed for 345 yards on 48 carries (7.2 per) and finished with 630 yards of total offense. WOW.
>> Mililani tallied 584 total yards, with 163 on the ground (37 carries, 4.4 per). The difference was in turnovers. Each side threw a pick. Mililani had no fumbles, while Punahou fumbled four times, losing two.
>> Purcell-Apana had a team-high seen tackles, plus the strip and fumble on Punahou’s last-ditch drive, and the pick-six, and a pass deflection. Huge night for the cornerback.
>> Laakea Look had 10.5 tackles to lead Punahou.