HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Kapolei surprises Kahuku in playoffs
Two years of heartbreak on the same Kahuku field became one moment of pure bliss for Kapolei.
After back-to-back season-ending losses by a total of 58 points against the Red Raiders, Kapolei returned the favor by ending No. 2 Kahuku's year with a stunning 14-7 victory last night.
The Hurricanes defense forced five turnovers as Kapolei advanced to an OIA Red division semifinal Friday against Waianae at 4 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
"I've always felt like the defense could carry the team," Darren Hernandez said. "We felt that if we could get on the plus side of the turnovers, we could win."
Trailing by seven with 2 minutes remaining, Kahuku got the ball back at its own 37-yard line. Jray Galeai completed back-to-back passes to get the ball into Kapolei territory.
The Hurricanes eventually forced a fourth down and Galeai's last pass was incomplete. The offense hit the field and took two knees to run out the clock, sending the Hurricanes sideline into a wild frenzy.
"We shocked the world," quarterback Mason Koa said. "That's what we talked about doing all week."
Hernandez said he doesn't have any special tricks for beating the Red Raiders, but he was also the last coach to defeat Kahuku at home when his Campbell team beat Kahuku in 1996.
"I think this is one of those once-in-a-generation type of things," Hernandez said.
The victory came although Kapolei gained only 23 yards on offense in the second half. Kapolei had the ball with 5 minutes remaining and a chance to run out the clock, but running back Shenon Moore fumbled to give Kahuku the ball at the Kapolei 30.
But as was the case all night, the Kapolei defense answered. On the very next play, Junior Mataafa got loose and seemed to be heading for the end zone when a hit caused him to fumble and Hurricanes linemen Kalei Awong recovered it.
"I just acted on instinct when I saw the ball on the ground," Awong said.
The game started much the same as the previous two playoff games between the two teams did. After forcing a three and out, Kahuku got a 70-yard punt return from St. John Lessary for a 7-0 lead.
Lessary broke down the right sideline before cutting back to the middle and breaking two tackles before finding the end zone.
"That punt return deflated us a little bit," Hernandez said.
The Hurricanes would settle down and tie the game late in the first quarter as Kelii Aki took the option pitch 39 yards for the score.
With the Red Raiders backed up in their own territory, defensive lineman Chad Lopati sacked Galeai and recovered the fumble he forced to give the Hurricanes the ball inside the Kahuku 5-yard line with a minute left in the half.
Two plays later, Cyril Ontai busted in from 3 yards out to give Kapolei a 14-7 lead heading into halftime.
Mistakes plagued Kahuku in the opening half. Galeai fumbled twice and the Red Raiders committed eight penalties, including three personal fouls.
The sloppy play continued in the second half as the Red Raiders turned the ball over on their first two drives of the second half. Kapolei gave one back on an interception by Shiloah Te'o of a Koa pass.