Punahou’s Strickland
sticks it to Iolani

Punahou running back Micah Strickland doesn't need a big opening to make things happen on a football field.

"I just had to be patient," Strickland said after yesterday's three second-half touchdowns helped the Buffanblu to a 41-9 win over host Iolani in Interscholastic League of Honolulu action.

"I started out slow -- it takes me a little bit to get into the zone. We had to make a few adjustments because they (Iolani) were mixing (defenses) up well."

Punahou (4-4, 2-3) led only 14-9 at halftime, but scored on its first four possessions of the second half to turn a tight game into a runaway. Strickland's second-half touchdowns came on runs of 14, 47 and 70 yards, the latter two coming on inside handoffs that he quickly took to the outside. He finished the afternoon with 225 yards on 17 carries.

The Buffanblu offensive line -- Jon Fleming, Jonathan Overton, Fred Schilla, Cody Kekipi and Trask Iosefa -- controlled the line of scrimmage, enabling the visitors to amass 475 total yards, including 248 on the ground.

"Micah was awesome for us," said Fleming, a senior and co-captain. "The line opened the holes -- we stayed on the blocks -- and our receivers made great blocks for him, too."

Punahou converted 19 first downs, while place-kicker Chris Takemoto-Gentile made good on six of seven point-after kicks.

A pair of interceptions by Punahou's Alexander Chock on consecutive possessions helped seal Iolani's fate. The first, which came 3 yards deep in his own end zone, ended what was a promising drive by the Raiders (2-2-1, 5-3-1), who moved from their own 44 to the Buffanblu 9-yard line.

Only three plays later, Strickland tacked on his 70-yard score to make it 34-9. The game was no longer in question.

"(At halftime) I told the kids we were going to keep it on the ground and make something happen," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "Micah had had a great game, and yet it's up to the line to open the holes, but he makes it a lot easier for us with the way he runs. This was his best game. He's the go-to guy. We're happy he broke out today."

Punahou quarterback John Morris (15-for-25, 228 yards) completed scoring tosses to Koa Duncan (eight catches, 150 yards) covering 40 and 25 yards, respectively, to help account for the Buffanblu's halftime lead.

Iolani pressed the issue early and used a 27-yard field goal from Nick Wong with 5:07 left in the first quarter to open the scoring. An interception by Nate Akamu set up the score. The Raiders had a chance to do more damage when Punahou fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Iolani drove to the Buffanblu 20, but missed a 30-yard field goal.

"We're not happy with the turnovers, but we're pleased with the way we've been able to overcome adversity," said Ane. "Iolani's a great defensive team, so we were happy to get what we got today."

Trailing 14-3, Iolani's Kiran Kepoo (18-for-31, 232 yards) found Karl Motoyama for a 17-yard score with 22 seconds to play before the half to keep the Raiders within striking distance.

"We just didn't tackle very well today," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "(Micah) Strickland's a helluva athlete, and once he gets into the open field, he has great speed and great strength. Defensively, we played pretty well in the first half, but Punahou made better adjustments than we did at halftime."

At Kozuki Stadium
Punahou (4-4, 2-3) 0 14 20 7 -- 41
Iolani (4-4-1, 2-2-1) 3 6 0 0 -- 9

Iol -- FG Nicholas Wong 27
Pun -- Christopher Duncan 40 pass from John Morris (Chris Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Pun -- Duncan 25 pass from Morris (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Iol -- Karl Motoyama 17 pass from Kiran Kepo'o (kick failed)
Pun -- Micah Strickland 14 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Pun -- Strickland 47 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
Pun -- Strickland 70 run (kick failed)
Pun -- Reyn Wicklund 10 run (Takemoto-Gentile kick)
RUSHING -- Punahou: Strickland 15-226, Wicklund 2-15, Kainoa Johnson 2-9, Zach Yamagishi 1-2, Morris 3-1. Iolani: Raynold Stowers 13-70, Mike Hirokawa 4-22, Kepo'o 6-21, Peter Heimerdinger 2-13, Kai Iwasaki 1-(-2).
PASSING -- Punahou: Morris 16-22-1-229, Justin Ingalls 1-2-0-(-2). Iolani: Kepo'o 19-27-3-235, Iwasaki 1-2-0-8.
RECEIVING -- Punahou: Duncan 8-156, Wicklund 3-33, Strickland 2-12, Chad Tamashiro 2-12, Cameron Grace 1-16, Tomson Mukai 1-(-2). Iolani: Stowers 6-103, Motoyama 4-40, Paul Bennett 3-23, Blayne Yama 3-18, Kekai Kealoha 2-37, Lee Korenaga 1-14, Joe Robie 1-8.


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