(Extended version of the game story. See the statistics HERE.)
They did it to Kamehameha.
Now, they’ve done it to Punahou. Second-ranked Saint Louis poured on the power in the second half to rally from an early deficit for a resounding 35-17 win over the No. 3 Buffanblu Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
The victory pushes the Crusaders to 3-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (5-1 overall) while Punahou lost its first game (3-1 overall, 1-1 ILH).
Saint Louis’ defense surrendered only 50 total yards in the second half.
“We had to refine the little stuff and stop playing as individuals,” said defensive end Juda Parker, who had two of his team’s four sacks. “Punahou’s a great team. We had to focus on doing our jobs.”
By the time Punahou took a 17-14 lead into the lockerroom at halftime, Crusader fans were almost silenced. That changed in the third quarter, when Marcus Mariota fired touchdown passes of 54 yards to Dallas Tuumalo and 14 yards to Kaeo Aliviado.
Mariota snuck into the end zone from a yard out with 9:20 left, Saint Louis had plenty of cushion with a 35-17 lead.
Mariota’s direction was key. The senior passed for 142 yards and ran for another 60, including runs of 19 and 24 yards to stymie Punahou’s normally stalwart defense.
In all, Saint Louis rushed for 223 yards behind Keanu Mook-Garcia (56 yards) and Derek Nakasato (58).
Punahou’s best offensive weapon, Steven Lakalaka, had 90 rushing yards on 20 carries, but left in the third quarter with severe cramping in his legs.
“That hurt us. He was playing really well,” Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said.
Saint Louis used a no-huddle offense from the start, but went to hyper speed in the second half.
“That was smart on their part,” Ane said, “especially with some of our guys going both ways. They made some good adjustments.”
The tempo and momentum were clearly on Saint Louis’ side after the half.
“We had to see where their legs were at,” coach Darnell Arceneaux said. “We’ve done a lot of conditioning work and changing the tempo allowed us to get off the ball quicker.”
The first half did not lack for drama. The Crusaders scored on their first possession thanks to a 40-yard burst by Derek Nakasato, who weaved to the left sideline for a 7-0 lead with 7:48 to go in the opening quarter.
A recovery by Chad Wakabayashi on a Saint Louis muffed punt — the ball caromed off the feet of Jordan Teets — gave Punahou the ball at the Saints’ 30-yard line. Three plays later, Kaimi Fairbairn booted a 42-yard field goal to with 2:07 left in the first.
Saint Louis defensive back Leland Gomez picked off an overthrown pass by Lokahi Matsuo and raced 34 yards up the sideline to give his team a 14-3 lead with 15 seconds remaining in the first.
Using Lakalaka as a wideout and as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation, Punahou found ways to move the chains. His running set up a 20-yard end-around run by linebacker/receiver K.T. Tuumalo, who got a bonecrushing block by linebacker/receiver DeForest Buckner for a touchdown. Punahou was within 14-10 with 6:14 remaining in the half.
Saint Louis had fourth-and-1 at its 49-yard line when Mariota rolled right and was picked off by Chase Tamashiro. Punahou drove 49 yards and got an alley-oop lob from Matsuo to Buckner for a 1-yard touchdown with 9 seconds to go in the half. The Buffanblu led 17-14 at the break.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser