When the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers square off at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, it will be a reunion of sorts for former Oregon teammates Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota and San Francisco defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.
The two former Ducks will play on the same field for the first time since the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship — a 42-20 loss to Ohio State — but it won’t be the first time they’ve played against each other.
As ILH products, the two faced off twice during the 2010 season, with Mariota and Saint Louis besting Buckner and Punahou both times.
The first matchup in that 2010 season was a Sept. 17 tilt at Aloha Stadium, with the Crusaders coming out on top 35-17. Mariota finished 11-for-16 with 142 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and he scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Buckner had 1-yard score of his own, hauling in a touchdown from Lokahi Matsuo in the second quarter.
Both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top three in the state. Punahou led 17-14 at halftime but was held to 50 total yards in the second half while Mariota accounted for all three of his touchdowns after the break.
Mariota, who went on to win the Star-Advertiser All-State Offensive Player of the Year award that season, was masterful in the second matchup between the two teams on Oct. 15, throwing for 390 yards on 14-for-20 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added two rushing scores, finishing with 62 yards on seven attempts on the ground. Saint Louis cruised to a 42-7 victory, giving them the ILH crown. The Crusaders won the state title that year, with their only loss a 49-27 decision to Kahuku that was later forfeited when the Red Raiders self reported using an ineligible player.
The two matchups between the Buffanblu and Crusaders that year also featured Punahou and UCLA alumnus Ka’imi Fairbairn, who is now the starting placekicker for the Houston Texans.
Like their battles in 2010, Sunday’s matchup between Oregon’s last two first-round draft picks will hold very high stakes. The 8-5 Titans are in the thick of the AFC playoff race but are coming off a disappointing 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the 3-10 49ers are winners of two straight after inserting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into the starting lineup.
Kickoff is 11:25 a.m. Hawaii time. The game is not on TV locally.