HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Kahuku’s defense dominates OIA Red East rival Kailua
For all but a handful of plays, Kailua did what it needed to stick right with Kahuku in last night's Windward Oahu meeting.
But those few plays ultimately proved pivotal in the third-ranked Red Raiders' 21-7 OIA Red East victory at the Surfriders' field.
Kailua contained Kahuku's ground game for much of the night, limiting the Red Raiders to 160 rushing yards a week after they ran for 334 against Kalaheo.
But the Red Raiders pulled off enough big plays to open a cushion and the defense repeatedly stymied the Surfriders, as Kahuku improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Kailua dropped to 1-4 and 1-2.
"We're still coming, we're getting better," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "But they shut down our run, we couldn't run that much inside. Their (interior linemen) are big and strong and it was a good battle up front."
Kahuku completed just three passes in the game, but two of them went for touchdowns. Quarterback Jray Galeai's 35-yard keeper around the right side in the first quarter set up his 1-yard pass to Jerrik Akina for the game's first touchdown.
Leading just 7-0 at halftime, the Red Raiders extended the lead in the third quarter when running back Junior Mataafa completed a 39-yard pass to Willie Ching on a halfback-option play for a TD on fourth and 21.
Mataafa rushed for 150 yards last week against Kalaheo, but had limited practice time leading up to last night's game due to a bad back.
Where the offense sparked the Red Raiders in a 33-26 shootout win over Kalaheo the previous week, the defense tightened up last night to limit Kailua to a late touchdown. The Red Raiders came within 8 seconds of recording their third shutout of the Surfriders in the last four years.
"Football is a game of mistakes, ultimately, so we made mistakes that gave up the game," Kailua coach Gary Rosolowich said.
"There's the best running game in the OIA," he added, nodding toward the Red Raiders as they left the field, "and we did a pretty darn good job -- not perfect, but a pretty darn good job. So that's a good place to start from. We've got three games left in the regular season. We've got Castle next week and that's our focus from this point forward."
Linebacker Paipai Falemalu capped the Kahuku scoring with a 44-yard interception return after making a one-handed grab in the fourth quarter.
"It was a lot of studying and a lot of hard work and conditioning so we could come hard every down," Falemalu said of containing a Kailua offense that scored 48 points against McKinley in its previous outing.
"We had to bounce back from (the Kalaheo game) and come out harder this week."
With Kahuku leading 7-0, Kailua threatened to tie the game, only to have its initial drive of the third quarter stall at the Red Raiders' 25.
Kahuku's ensuing possession was extended when Triton Oto recovered a muffed punt, but the Red Raiders pushed themselves back with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on third down.
Rather than punt again, the Red Raiders sent Mataafa onto the field for the first time in the game. Mataafa took a toss, pulled up and launched a strike to the 6-foot-5 Ching in the end zone.
Falemalu's interception return gave Kahuku a 21-0 lead with 4:59 left, and Kailua avoided the shutout on Kale Sumner's 6-yard pass to Jackie Uemoto in the final seconds.
Roosevelt 22, Nanakuli 21
Rough Riders quarterback Lowen Kahooilihala threw an 11-yard TD pass to Justin Otaguro in the fourth quarter and Alex Fowler kicked the winning PAT.
Waialua 34, Kalani 7
Donovan Matas rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs.