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(Fri) November 25, 2011

HHSAA Division I FOOTBALL: Kahuku holds off Punahou, 30-24, to win DI title

By Wes Nakama

Aofaga Wily rushed for 180 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries and Kahuku’s defense came up with three interceptions and two fumbles Friday night as the Red Raiders held off Punahou, 30-24, to win the First Hawaiian Bank/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Football State Championship.

A frenzied crowd of 20,058 at Aloha Stadium watched Kahuku finish the season at 12-1 by winning its first state title since 2006 and sixth overall.

Punahou’s season ended at 11-3.

The Red Raiders raced out to a stunning 24-0 lead in the first half only to watch the Buffanblu rally back to close it to 30-24 after Steven Lakalaka bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 6-yard TD catch on fourth-and-goal and Kaimi Fairbairn’s extra point went through with 24 seconds remaining in the game.

But the ensuing onside kick attempt did not go the required 10 yards, and Kahuku was able to run out the clock.

The Red Raiders dominated the first half, taking a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Kekahu Aluli’s 38-yard field goal and then going up 10-0 less than three minutes later after Wily’s 5-yard touchdown run.

Kahuku then went ahead, 17-0, barely two minutes into the second quarter after Lasi Livai’s 23-yard TD strike to Mahonilai Fakatou on a post pattern and made it 24-0 midway through the second quarter following Mikeli Fiso’s diving catch of Livai’s 16-yard pass into the back left corner of the end zone.

Punahou finally got on the scoreboard with just 1:25 remaining in the half when defensive lineman Logan Hanohano recovered a fumble on the Red Raiders’ 1-yard line and ran it in. Fairbairn’s PAT cut it to 24-7.

Kahuku out-gained the Buffanblu, 188 yards to 83, in the first half.

Fairbairn later connected on a 25-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with 3:55 left in the third quarter, then Punahou closed it to 24-17 after Lakalaka’s leaping 24-yard touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone with 6:57 remaining in the game.

Fakatou appeared to seal the victory with a 30-yard scoring ramble off right tackle on third-and-1 with 1:47 left, but the extra point was blocked. KJ Sekona then returned the ensuing kickoff 37 yards to the Red Raiders’ 40 and the Buffanblu scored six plays later on Lakalaka’s 6-yard catch on in which he broke a tackle near the right sideline before lunging over the pylon.

But the ensuing kickoff dribbled only about five yards, and Punahou had only one timeout remaining and could not stop the clock after using it with 22 seconds  remaining.