Kahuku storms back from first deficit

Facing a deficit for the first time this season, Kahuku responded with a six-touchdown flurry in less than a quarter in Saturday’s 42-6 win over Castle.

The fourth-ranked Red Raiders had surrendered just one touchdown through their first four games and had gone nearly a month since an opposing player reached the end zone entering Saturday’s OIA Red game.

After having the game postponed on Friday due to lightning over the North Shore, Kahuku got off to a relatively slow start in the mud on Saturday. The Red Raiders found themselves in an unfamiliar position when Castle receiver Jeremy McGoldrick got past the secondary for a 42-yard touchdown reception from Willie Ewaliko on the Knights’ first possession of the game. It was the first touchdown against Kahuku since Kapolei scored in the fourth quarter of the Red Raiders’ 27-7 win on Aug. 14.

Castle’s lead lasted just over five minutes before Kahuku broke away with six scores in a span of 7:47 of game time.

The Red Raiders punted on their first two possessions then scored on their next four with defense and special teams contributing a touchdown each. The Kahuku defense spurred the run with a fumble recovery and two interceptions.

“We just needed to settle down on defense,” Kahuku coach Vavae Tata said of a unit that has given up just 16 points with two shutouts this season.

Kahuku quarterback Kesi Ah-Hoy scored on a 39-yard run to tie the game and Kekoa Sasaoka’s PAT gave the Red Raiders the lead for good with 2:41 left in the first quarter.

“It’s tough because he’s multi-dimensional,” Castle coach Nelson Maeda said of Ah-Hoy, who ran for 95 yards on just five carries and threw for 115 yards and two touchdowns. “They’re running quarterback iso leads with him, very difficult to defend.”

After the opening touchdown, Castle struggled handling the ball in the wet conditions. A high shotgun snap pushed the Knights back to their own 5, and Keala Santiago returned the ensuing punt 45 yards for the first of his two touchdowns.

“My blockers were on the right side and I was trying to get here to make a play,” said Santiago, who fielded the punt on the left hashmark and managed to keep his footing while crossing the slick field. “I trusted them and they were there for me.”

On Castle’s next drive, Lono Kanongataa ripped the ball away from Ewaliko off a bobbled snap at the Castle 30. Ah-Hoy then hurdled a defender at the line of scrimmage and got near the goal line when the ball came out and went through the back of the end zone. The play was initially ruled a touchback for Castle, but the players appeared to react to a whistle while the ball was loose in the end zone. The officials conferred and decided to replay the down.

After offsetting penalties, the third try at the first play of the second quarter resulted in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ah-Hoy to Santiago. That would be the first of four Kahuku touchdowns in the first 5:06 of the period to send the Red Raiders to a homecoming/senior night win. LeRod Tongi scored his third touchdown of the season, Hirkey Latu had an interception for a score and Ocean Tuia’s second reception of the season went for a 44-yard touchdown.

The Red Raiders matched Waianae at 4-0 atop the OIA Red standings and Saturday’s game was their last at Carleton E. Weimer Field of the regular season. They play at Leilehua and Waipahu the next two weeks and close the regular season against Waianae at Aloha Stadium on Oct. 3.

“We got a long ways to go, always room for improvement,” Tata said. “Still not satisfied.”


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