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Saturday, October 4, 2003



[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]


Punahou holds off
scrappy Damien


Damien lost a game yesterday afternoon, but gained a lobbyist in Punahou coach Kale Ane.

"Damien's a very good team, and I don't think people give them their just due," said Ane after the Buffanblu's hard-fought 37-20 homecoming win over the Monarchs in Interscholastic League of Honolulu action at Punahou. "Their coaches do a great job."

On this day, Punahou (3-3, 1-2) ultimately had to overcome two formidable obstacles: a scrappy Damien team and the Buffanblu's own self-destructive tendencies.

The Buffanblu were intercepted four times and were turned away on their first three trips into the red zone but showed plenty of grit on the ground as Micah Strickland rushed for 176 yards on 21 carries and scored on runs of 19 and 38 yards. He also caught six passes from quarterback John Morris (20-for-33, 217 passing yards), all on screens or swing passes as the Buffanblu mixed their plays nicely.

"(Strickland) is a good runner, and we had to kind of rise above what their playing level is and, for the majority of the game, they did," Damien coach Rudy Alejo said of his defense. "Punahou did a good job with their blocking on the inside, and whenever you establish the running game, you have a good chance of winning."

Defensively, the Buffanblu bent but rarely broke, conceding a 71-yard scoring drive to the Monarchs in the first quarter before clamping down to allow just 29 yards for the rest of the half. Damien (1-3, 1-2) finished with 188 total yards, 148 through the air behind the passing of Tevita Williams, who was 11-for-26. The Buffanblu finished with 413 total yards and 20 first downs.

By the break, Punahou overcame its miscues and the feisty Damien defense to assume a 27-14 lead.

"A lot of crazy things happened," Ane said. "I don't know how many interceptions we had -- they're tough to overcome -- but I thought the kids did a nice job of coming back and settling down. We were real happy about that. We've had a lot of turnovers in every game that we've played, but any time you get a win, it makes it a little easier to digest."

After intermission, Damien drove from its own 21 to the Punahou 29, but a holding penalty disrupted the Monarchs' momentum, and the Buffanblu's Nainoa Fiddler eventually recovered a fumble on a fourth-and-1 play at the 24.

"We hung in there and played tough," Punahou linebacker Rob Miller said.

A 1-yard sneak by Miller with 9:34 remaining helped to make it 34-14, and Chris Takemoto-Gentile added a 36-yard field goal for Punahou with 1:21 to play.

Punahou scored on the first play from scrimmage (on a 71-yard pass play from Morris to Chad Tamashiro) to begin what was a wild first half. Indeed, on the ensuing kickoff, Damien's Andrew Canoy broke up the middle for a 99-yard touchdown.

The Monarchs took their only lead with 1:17 left in the first half on a 25-yard play-action pass from Williams to Landen Dela Cruz, but the Buffanblu answered with 17.8 seconds left when Cameron Grace caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Miller.


At Alexander Field
Punahou (3-3, 1-2) 7 20 0 10 -- 37
Damien (1-3, 1-2) 14 0 0 6 -- 20

Pun -- Chad Tamashiro 71 pass from John Morris (Chris Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Dam -- Andrew Canoy 99 kickoff return (Cory Mullen kick)
Dam -- Landen Dela Cruz 25 pass from Tevita Williams (Mullen kick)
Pun -- Micah Strickland 19 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Pun -- Strickland 37 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Pun -- Cameron Grace 12 pass from Morris (kick failed)
Pun -- Morris 1 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Dam -- Ranson DeCosta 8 run (kick failed)
Pun -- FG Takemoto-Gentile 37
RUSHING -- Punahou: Strickland 20-175, Morris 5-9, Reyn Wicklund 1-3. Damien: Va'a Faualo 10-33, DeCosta 7-24, Williams 5-(-4).
PASSING -- Punahou: Morris 20-35-4-232. Damien: Williams 12-25-1-187.
RECEIVING -- Punahou: Strickland 6-37, Koa Duncan 5-49, Grace 4-48, Tamashiro 2-76, Wicklund 2-16, Matt Solomona 1-6. Damien: Canoy 8-111, Faualo 2-44, Dela Cruz 2-32.

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