By Paul Honda
For three quarters, the best of Hawaii and Polynesia kept the nation’s No. 1 running back under check.
Unfortunately, while Lache Seastrunk took awhile to find paydirt, teammate Deuce Coon had no trouble, catching three touchdown passes as the Mainland All-Stars pulled away from Hawaii/Polynesia for a 26-6 win Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
It was the second victory in as many tries for the visitors in two years. This time, Hawaii/Poly fared well against some of the nation’s top players, trailing 7-6 early in the second half before succumbing.
Seastrunk’s 60-yard gallop down the sideline — which put him over the 100-yard mark — opened a three-touchdown lead in the final quarter. Until then, it was a relative defensive stalemate between a physical Hawaii/Poly defense and an utterly stingy Mainland defense. The home team mustered just two field goals by Cameron Mercado and the defense eventually wore down.
The Mainlanders accumulated six sacks, including two by Lynden Trail (Booker T. Washington High School, Florida), and picked off three passes. Offensively, Coon (Redemporist High School, Louisiana) had six receptions for 80 yards, including three touchdowns, working the middle of the field expertly.
Seastrunk finished with 151 yards on 16 carries. The visitors had 197 rushing yards on 38 carries and three quarterbacks combined on 18-for-36 passing with three interceptions.
After the Mainland All-Stars fumbled at the Hawaii/Poly 1-yard line on its opening drive, the home team made a big splash. P.J. Minaya took a lateral from Andrew Manley in the end zone and heaved a bomb to London Amorin for a 91-yard gain. A tackle by Tony Grimes at the 8-yard line stopped Amorin, and Hawaii/Poly never got closer the rest of the night. A botched snap on a Mercado field-goal try ended the series, but a pick by Elika Laloulu (Maui) set up a 25-yard field goal and Hawaii/Poly led 3-0 with just over 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
Laloulu had two of Hawaii/Poly’s three picks. Guyson Amina had the other on a spectacular dive off a tip by Chaz Bajet.
Coon’s first score, a 15-yard strike from A.J. Derby, gave the visitors a 7-3 lead with 8:01 left in the first half.
Seastrunk had just 40 yards on nine carries in the first half.
Shaydon Kehano nearly broke away for a score, picking up a shanked punt near the sideline and racing 59 yards to the Mainland 8-yard line. Hawaii/Poly had no luck moving the ball, however, and Mercado’s 27-yard field goal cut the lead to 7-6 with 8:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Blocked field goals by Jeremy Ioane and Landon Aano kept Hawaii/Poly’s hopes alive, but sacks and bad snaps in the shotgun cost them a ton of yardage.
Coon’s second score, a 30-yard pass from C.J. Bennett, closed a 28-yard drive and gave the visitors a 14-6 lead with 3:35 left in the third.
After Mercado’s last field goal, Hawaii/Poly had minus-41 yards on its next three possessions. Coon’s 12-yard touchdown pass from Bennett with 8:05 left made it 20-6.
Seastrunk put the final nail in the coffin with 3:35 left, breaking around right end and scoring untouched on the 60-yard score.