Punahou rallies past Kamehameha, 33-28, on wacky TD catch by Ean Kamau-Waikiki

Punahou receiver Astin Hange hauled in a pass over Kamehameha defensive back Kyle Lee during the first half of the opener for both teams. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Ean Kamau-Waikiki hauled in a deflected 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:28 left as Punahou rallied for a wild 33-28 win over Kamehameha on Friday night at Aloha Stadium.

The game was the first in Hawaii since the fall of 2019 and was one of two games to open the ILH varsity season.

John-Keawe Sagapolutele was spectacular with 381 passing yards (28-for-41) and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead scoring pass to Kamau-Waikiki. That pass was intended for Astin Hange at the goal line, but the ball ricocheted off him and into the waiting hands of Kamau-Waikiki.

Kamehameha’s last-chance drive ended at its 36-yard line, moments after running back Noah Bartley left the game with a leg cramp. The bulldozing, speedy senior finished with 118 yards on 20 carries, but also had six receptions for 133 yards, including a 40-yard TD.

Punahou’s Tevarua Tafiti had two of his team’s four sacks. Hange, a sophomore, had nine receptions for 195 yards.

After stopping Punahou on its first series, Kamehameha drove 58 yards in six plays. The penalty-free march included two carries for 19 yards by Bartley. The senior also had a nifty juke to get past a defender for a 24-yard reception that set up a 2-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Kealii Ah Yat.

The Warriors led 7-0 with 5:31 left in the opening quarter.

Sagapolutele showed off his arm strength moments later, launching a bomb to Hange for an 81-yard touchdown play. That tied the game at 7 with 4:35 left in the first quarter.

A perfect coffin-corner punt by Winston Freitas pinned Punahou at its 5-yard line, but Sagapolutele’s crisp passes and mastery took over. He scrambled for 20 yards, connected with Hange on completions of 17 and 12 yards, and the Buffanblu had the ball at Kamehameha’s 15-yard line. Hunter Kaulana Ah Loo stopped Sagapolutele well short on a third-down scramble, and Jordan Kapisi drilled a 32-yard field goal for a 10-7 Punahou lead with 7:47 to go in the second quarter.

Punahou’s defense forced Kamehameha’s offense into back-to-back three-and-outs. Starting at the Warriors’ 47, Sagapolutele completed three passes in a row, including a 23-yard toss to Kamau-Waikiki in the back of the end zone. Kamau-Waikiki’s diving catch gave Punahou a 16-7 lead with 45 seconds left in the first half.

Punahou safety Terahiti Wolfe returned an interception 15 yards to the Kamehameha 25, and Kapisi knocked in a 40-yard field goal as the first half expired for a 19-7 lead.

Kamehameha drove 80 yards in five plays, aided by a roughing-the-passer flag, on the opening drive of the second half. Ah Yat found Bartley near the sideline for a 40-yard TD. Bartley then scored on a muddle huddle play, cutting Punahou’s lead to 19-15 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Oshyn Ferreira’s 40-yard field goal cut the lead to 19-18 with 4:20 to go in the third.

After a Punahou three-and-out, Ah Yat led the Warriors on an 11-play, 86-yard scoring drive. He connected with Trey Tenn on a key 33-yard gain, and Bartley motored up the middle from 31 yards out for his second TD. Kamehameha led 25-19 with 19 seconds left in the third stanza.

After the Warriors’ run of 18 unanswered points, Punahou drove to the Kamehameha 35-yard line. On fourth-and-2, Hange made a diving grab on a 31-yard toss from Sagapolutele to the 3-yard line. Two plays later, Alai Williams scored from the 1 and Kapisi’s PAT gave Punahou a 26-25 lead with 9:12 remaining.

The Warriors drove patiently and got a 34-yard field goal from Ferreira for a 28-26 lead with 4:16 left in regulation.

Sagapolutele then led his offense down the field, completing all six of his pass attempts for 77 yards during the drive. The Buffanblu covered 82 yards in 2 minutes, 48 seconds.

At Aloha Stadium
Kamehameha 7 0 18 3 — 28
Punahou 7 12 0 14 — 33
KS—Kealii Ah Yat 2 run (Winston Freitas kick)
Pun—Astin Hange 81 pass from John-Keawe Sagapolutele (Kapisi kick)
Pun—Jordan Kapisi FG 33
Pun—Ean Kamau-Waikiki 23 pass from Sagapolutele (kick failed)
Pun—Kapisi FG 40
KS—Noah Bartley 40 pass from Ah Yat (Bartley run)
KS—Oshyn Ferreira FG 40
KS—Bartley 31 run (Freitas kick)
Pun—Alai Williams 1 run (Kapisi kick)
KS—Ferreira FG 34
Pun—Waikiki 15 pass from Sagapolutele (Kapisi kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing—KS: Ah Yat 6-(-11), Noah Bartley 20-118. Pun: Alai Williams 10-23, Sagapolutele 6-28, team 1-(-7).

Passing—KS: Ah Yat 14-25-1-234. Pun: Sagapolutele 28-41-0-381.

Receiving—KS: Bartley 6-133, Blaze Kamoku 2-35, Raiden Morris 1-7, Dwight Apao 1-10, Sheydon Iokia 2-25, Levi Ma‘afala 2-34.

Pun: Williams 8-37, Astin Hange 9-195, Kalen Smith 1-19, Waikiki 6-78, Noah Macapulay 2-21, Peyton Macapulay 2-31


  1. ILH August 28, 2021 7:52 pm

    Seen 2 bad calls by the back judge, one touchdown was not a touchdown, the Punahou player had juggled the ball just at the back of the end zone , he had controlled after outside the end Zone, the receiver was Waikiki from Punahou, and the other bad call was just near the end zone, showing the ball touching the ground, hard luck for the Warriors who seemed in full control in the second half. but there is no replay in High School football so it is a bummer for Kamehameha, but the Warriors look good. Up next for the Puns a Hungry Crusaders after the Gorman lost.

  2. ILoveHawaii August 30, 2021 10:07 am

    How come you capitalized “Hungry”?

    Btw, Was it that the Warriors looked good or that Puns look terrible?

    Would you blame that loss on coaching or that Puns was better?

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