RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
San Diego State's Kurt Kahui, second from left, went after Nate Ilaoa during last night's game.
For Kahui, finish is almost paradise
Kurt Kahui's pain was evident with 3:51 left in the third quarter of San Diego State's 49-38 loss to Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.
Kahui and a teammate dove to sandwich Warriors running back Nate Ilaoa as the latter barreled across the goal line for a touchdown. As Ilaoa celebrated, Kahui knelt on one knee for at least a half-minute.
What looked like mental frustration was actually a lot of physical discomfort.
"I got a stinger on my right shoulder," said Kahui, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound senior defensive end out of Baldwin High School. "I hit him, but I never really wrapped him up. My head went one way and my shoulder went the other. I was sore and stayed down when they were bringing on the PAT teams. I just had to shake it off and suck it up."
A loss wasn't the way Kahui wanted to finish his college career, especially the way the Aztecs handed the game over to the Warriors late in the first half. An SDSU fumble and interception helped the Warriors to 21 straight points within a 2:35 span, turning the Aztecs' 21-7 lead into a 28-21 deficit.
"We lost control," Kahui said. "We were too fluttered in the head. We should have been just playing, instead of thinking too much."
In spite of the loss, the one-time Maui Interscholastic League athlete of the year will have plenty to remember about his last game, which was played in front of lots of friends and family. Kahui recovered a fumble, leading to San Diego State's first touchdown, and he finished with seven tackles.
"It (the fumble recovery) was good to get the butterflies out early," Kahui said.
Kahui entered the game fifth on the team in tackles, and he finished his season with 72 tackles, including five for loss and three sacks.
Last night, Kahui lined up at both right and left defensive end.
"I usually play the strength, on the same side as the tight end," he said. "But since Hawaii doesn't have a tight end, I was able to go on both sides whenever."
Kahui's mom and dad, Karl and Alexa, were in the stands.
"We're proud to see him play at this level," said Karl Kahui, who took four trips to the mainland to watch Kurt play this season.
"I like to watch his footwork, the way he moves on the field. He's not big for a defensive lineman, but he's quick. His position coach (assistant head coach Jim House) says he's relentless and that his motor is always running."
Kahui went from walk-on to starter, and now his college career is done.
"I went to San Diego State for school and then I decided to play football, and it kept on going from there. I just kept on fighting.
"I'm back in paradise (for the last game) and if I had a sack, I would be thinking that I would have had a pretty good game. And I just missed getting a sack."