Saint Louis holds off Punahou, 38-35
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By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
In a wild and crazy return to glory, Saint Louis regained its position as Hawai'i's best football team last night with a thrilling 38-35 victory over previously unbeaten Punahou.
A stunned Aloha Stadium crowd of about 4,000 watched the Crusaders jump out to a 31-0 lead by halftime, only to see the Buffanblu nearly pull off the improbable comeback with a furious second-half rally. Saint Louis, ranked No. 2 in The Advertiser's statewide Top 10 poll of coaches and media, improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Punahou, which had been unanimously ranked No. 1 all season, fell to 4-1 and 1-1.
"We've been talking about this the past two weeks," said Crusaders quarterback Micah Mamiya, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 123 yards and three more TDs on six carries last night. "They beat us three times last year, so we wanted to win and bring Saint Louis back to the top."
The Crusaders made their statement boldly and quickly, taking the opening kickoff and marching 80 yards in just five plays, with Mamiya scoring on a perfectly executed 6-yard option keeper. Kenton Chun's extra point made it 7-0 less than 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
Mamiya connected with Shane Ahlo on a 29-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter, and Chun's 23-yard field goal put the Saints up 17-0 with 11 seconds still left in the period.
Solomona Aigamaua's interception set up another Mamiya TD run, this one from 12 yards out to make it 24-0 with 9:37 remaining in the half. Mamiya scored again on a 1-yard sneak to make it 31-0 with 56 ticks left before halftime.
"That certainly was not what we envisioned, being down 31-0," Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. "We thought it would be a tight game and we thought we were prepared for their offense, but (Saint Louis) performed great, they were awesome."
Despite the enormous deficit, Ane said he did not want his team to panic at halftime.
"You can yell and scream, but I don't think that would have helped because they were already upset," Ane said. "They were already trying to do too much instead of sticking to their responsibilities. They just had to focus and return to their fundamentals, to their roles. It was a great learning experience for them to come back."
Mamiya bruised his left hip in the first half, so Tamatoa DeMello took over at quarterback in the third quarter and the Crusaders stuck to a ground game.
"But our offense stalled," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "We left our defense out on the field too long."
Punahou finally got on the board with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brett Kan to Miah Ostrowski with 4:27 left in the third quarter, but the two-point conversion try failed. Kan connected with River Kim on a 14-yard TD pass nine seconds before the quarter ended, and the Buffanblu recovered a Crusaders fumble on the next play from scrimmage.
With 8:48 remaining in the game, Kan threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Patrick McFarden on fourth-and-5. Kim's extra point made it 31-20.
After a Saint Louis three-and-out, Punahou closed it to 31-28 after a 54-yard TD pass from Kan to Kyle Whitford.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Mamiya dashed 68 yards down the right sideline to set up a 13-yard touchdown pass to Josh Saio to give the Saints some breathing room at 38-28. But the Buffanblu answered with a 1-yard scoring pass from Kan to Ostrowski on fourth-and-goal with 53 seconds left.
Punahou's onside kick did not travel the required 10 yards, however, and Saint Louis was able to run out the clock.
SAINT LOUIS (5-0, 2-0) 17 14 0 738
PUNAHOU (4-1, 1-1) 0 0 13 2235
SL Micah Mamiya 6 run (Kenton Chun kick)
SL Shane Ahlo 29 pass from Mamiya (Chun kick)
SL FG Chun 23
SL Mamiya 12 run (Chun kick)
SL Mamiya 1 run (Chun kick)
Pun Miah Ostrowski 14 pass from Brett Kan (run failed)
Pun River Kim 14 pass from Kan (Kim kick)
Pun Patrick McFadden 6 pass from Kan (Kim kick)
Pun Kyle Whitford 54 pass from Kan (Manti Te'o run)
SL Josh Saio 13 pass from Mamiya (Chun kick)
Pun Ostrowski 1 pass from Kan (Kim kick)
RUSHING Saint Louis: Mamiya 6-123, Devan Essner 5-7, Lene Auelua 7-43, Austin Wakinekona 4-10, Preston Lynch 1-4, Keani Nishigaya 3-9, Shane Ahlo 1-9, Tamatoa DeMello 3-11. Punahou: Kainoa Carlson 2-0, Dalton Hilliard 4-7, Te'o 4-11, Kan 3-14.
PASSING Saint Louis: Mamiya 9-14-0157. Punahou: Kan 33-52-2381.
RECEIVING Saint Louis: Kulia Aiona 3-86, Lynch 2-22, Ahlo 2-38, Nishigaya 1-(minus-2), Saio 1-13. Punahou: Hilliard 8-78, Whitford 6-107, Kim 5-42, Ostrowski 10-113, Carlson 2-16, McFadden 2-25.
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org.