It was a game of turnovers in the Moanalua vs. Castle matchup that saw nine total interceptions by the end. No. 6 Moanalua’s defensive backs picked eight of the nine to assist in the 48-0 shutout of visiting Castle on Friday night.
Unbeaten Moanalua improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in OIA Division I play. Castle dropped to 2-5 and 2-3.
Neither team recorded any scores in the first quarter until halfway through when senior DB Jeremiah Tauai intercepted a pass and ran it back 41 yards for a touchdown. Four plays later, senior DB Aukai Grace notched the team’s second interception to set up senior slotback Rudy Kealohi’s 3-yard scoring catch. At the end of the first quarter, Grace snagged a second pick and returned it for 25 yards.
In order to reach the potential that Na Menehune possess on defense, Grace explained, “We executed in practice and took practice seriously. We didn’t want to repeat the mistakes we made before.”
Although Moanalua’s scoring stalled in the second quarter, one of the final plays resulted in the game’s fifth interception caught by senior DB Christian Sison. After exiting the game in the first half following a painful sack, senior quarterback RJ Javar opened the third quarter with a 12-yard run for another Na Menehune touchdown.
Juniors Rodley Nelson Jr. and Gabriel Suka each picked a pass apiece after the first half, sandwiching another scoring catch by Kealohi for 32 yards.
Grace praised his fellow backs on their consistent interception returns by saying “It felt great, it felt amazing, it felt like we actually bonded together.”
Senior DB Rashod Tanner got his chance at snagging a pick one minute into the fourth quarter and senior wide receiver Dacyres Domingo closed the drive with a 47-yard touchdown catch. After the Knights’ offense took the ball back, Tauai recovered a fumble and ran 20 yards to the house, securing the blanking of Castle.
After scoring two touchdowns on offensive turnovers, Tauai said, “It felt good because I had a lot of help to put points on the board.”
The Na Menehune defense held the Knights to just 154 yards of total offense and capitalized on Castle’s nine turnovers. Looking toward their final two games of the season, Grace wants to keep picking and scoring. “I just want to stay humble and get some more (interceptions) if they throw them to my side.”