VIDEO: Punahou-Kamehameha epic battle highlights

Kamehameha quarterback Kealii Ah Yat threw the football against Punahou during the season opener at Aloha Stadium. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Never mind a hiatus of nearly two years for prep football in Hawaii.

Kamehameha and Punahou left no stone unturned in the first football game since the fall of 2019. From John-Keawe Sagapolutele to Tevarua Tafiti to Astin Hange, Punahou overcame a third-quarter lull to rally for a 33-28 win. Kamehameha’s Noah Bartley, following an effective offensive line, finished with 251 yards from scrimmage.

In all, Kamehameha finished with 341 yards of total offense: 26 rushes for 107 yards, and 14-for-25, 234 passing yards by Kealii Ah Yat (with one pick) in his varsity starting debut. That’s 6.7 yards per play as a team and a run-pass ratio of virtually 50 percent each way.

Punahou snapped seven more plays (58) than Kamehameha and totaled 425 yards of total offense: 17 carries for 44 yards (Ala‘i Williams and Sagapolutele) 381 passing yards by Sagapolutele. The Buffanblu averaged 7.3 yards per play with a run-pass ratio of 71 percent pass.

Sagapolutele finished as his team’s top rusher (28 yards, six carries). Four attempts were on scrambles, including gains of 15, 20 and eight yards. Two were sacks.

The hidden or not-so-hidden yardage? Punahou had 10 yellow flags for 81 yards. Kamehameha had only four penalties for 25 yards. The kicking game favored the Warriors even though Punahou had three kickoffs for touchbacks. Factor in illegal procedure calls for kickoffs that landed out of bounds, and Kamehameha’s average starting position for nine possessions was the Warriors’ 29-yard line.

K 42
K 20
K 35
K 20
K 29
K 44
K 14
K 20
K 35

Punahou’s average starting position was its 25-yard line. That includes a three-and-out by Kamehameha that led to a 29-yard punt and set Punahou up at the Buffanblu 47. Six times, Punahou began a series at the its 25 or worse.

P 25 (holding penalty on kick return)
P 20
P 5 (after Kamehameha punt)
P 30
P 47 (after punt)
P 25
P 35
P 20
P 18

Three times, Punahou returned kickoffs for an average of just 13.3 yards. That’s a rough way to start for most high school offenses, but Punahou has Sagapolutele, a true game changer who levels any playing field.


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