Punahou beats Kamehameha in playoff preview

Punahou wide receiver Tamatoa Falatea caught nine passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns against Kamehameha on Friday. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The 190th all-time meeting between Punahou and Kamehameha went to the Buffanblu.

No. 191 could carry far more meaning.

No. 3 Punahou pulled away from the sixth-ranked Warriors in the second half in a 30-14 ILH Open Division win on a humid Friday night in Halawa. If the division standings hold with No. 1 Saint Louis (6-0, 5-0 ILH Open) remaining in the top spot, the Buffanblu (5-2, 4-2) and Warriors (3-4, 2-3) figure to meet again in a playoff game.

“Very odd that we would play this close to when we’d probably play again, but that’s just the way the schedule is,” Punahou coach Kale Ane said. “We didn’t show everything. I’m sure they didn’t either and we’ll see.”

In the meantime, Punahou, which leads the series with Kamehameha 94-90-6, has a bye week coming up before closing the regular season Oct. 12 against Waianae. Kamehameha travels to the west side next week before facing No. 1 Saint Louis in the regular-season finale on Oct. 12.

“We have to go finish out strong against Waianae and Saint Louis and we can’t worry about seeing (Punahou) in a couple weeks,” Kamehameha coach Abu Ma’afala said.

In its first true ILH game this season, Kamehameha broke on top early on Jonah Morikawa’s 48-yard interception return for a touchdown. The pick capped an 0-for-6 start for Punahou quarterback Hugh Brady, who responded by completing nine of his next 11 throws for 131 yards and a touchdowns.

The junior led a 12-play drive sparked by an 18-yard completion to Tamatoa Falatea on third-and-17. Brady finished the march with a 3-yard touchdown run and later went 4-for-5 in a 76-yard drive in the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Falatea, who finished with nine catches for 163 yards and two scores.

“(Punahou’s first touchdown) was a long drive, they made us work for it,” Ane said. “So it was really resilient of the kids and it as nice to see that.

“And it was tough, it was a battle the whole game. it’s hard to believe it was 30-14. It feels like it was 17-14.”

The game was tied at 14 in the third quarter when Punahou’s special teams delivered a game-turning play. Kainalu Pu’u-Robinson’s blocked punt gave the Buffanblu possession at the Kamehameha 17 and Sitiveni Kaufusi scored on a 3-yard run two plays later.

“(Pu’u-Robinson) just has a way of making big plays both on special teams and defense,” Ane said. “He has a greta knack for that.”

Pu’u-Robinson also broke up three passes in the second half as part of a defensive effort that shut out Kamehameha after the break, despite having linebacker Maninoa Tufono, a USC commit, on the sideline.

“It’s a momentum shift to give the offense a short field and they punched it in,” Pu’u-Robinson said of the punt block. “All phases of the game really matter and everybody has to do their job.”

The Punahou kicking game contributed in the fourth quarter when Washington commit Tim Horn drilled a 48-yard field goal. Falatea capped the scoring with a 75-yard touchdown reception from Brady.

Kamehameha senior Alec Serrao represented the bulk of the Warriors offense with 131 rushing yards out of the team’s 232 yards of total offense.

“We have to get some things cleaned up,” Ma’afala said. “We practiced hard this week and now we have to get more detail-oriented.

“Serrao, it’s been all season. Our running back group, Coach (Mike) Morita gets them prepared. Coach Tony and Coach John Estes help us a ton with the offensive line and we’re able to run the football and right now that’s who we are. We have to evolve and be able to throw the ball in order to win games.”

Kamehameha defensive lineman Lancen Dung (45) sacked Punahou quarterback Hugh Brady (14) on Friday night. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


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