By: Wes Nakama
In this century-plus old rivalry, nothing comes easy, and Saint Louis’ 38-21 victory over familiar foe Kamehameha Friday night certainly didn’t.
Down to their fourth-string quarterback, the Warriors took a surprising 21-14 lead at halftime before the Crusaders scored 24 unanswered points at Farrington’s Skippa Diaz Stadium to improve to 4-4 overall and 2-1 in the ILH. Kamehameha fell to 4-4 and 0-3.
“(In the) first half, we were little bit dragging, but we gotta be a second-half team,” said Saint Louis running back “(In the) first half, we were little bit dragging, but we gotta be a second-half team,” said Saint Louis running back Keola Apduhan, who finished with 107 all-purpose yards (59 rushing, 48 receiving) and two touchdowns. “So when we came back out after halftime, it was all gas, no brakes. That was our mentality.”, who finished with 107 all-purpose yards (59 rushing, 48 receiving) and two touchdowns. “So when we came back out after halftime, it was all gas, no brakes. That was our mentality.”
The visiting Crusaders handled the Warriors, 40-21, just seven days prior up at Kamehameha’s Kunuiakea Stadium. But on Friday, the Warriors made a quick statement by covering 80 yards in just six plays, capped by Moe Passi’s 5-yard scoring run and Brady Akau’s extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Saint Louis answered later and tied it at 7-7 with a 10-play, 62-yard drive culminating in Kauanoa Kamakawiwo’ole’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Titan Lacaden, followed by Makena Kauai’s PAT with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Alika Harbottle’s interception gave Kamehameha possession at the Crusaders’ 45, and the Warriors cashed in five plays later when fourth-string quarterback Kailer Chow-Agor threaded an 8-yard scoring pass to tight end Taimane Purcell. Akau’s extra point made it 14-7 with 8:29 left.
Chow-Agor, wearing jersey number 41, had moved to running back in the summer but stepped in at quarterback when Friday starter Pono Kahaulelio was knocked out of the game after taking a hard hit at the end of a 20-yard first-quarter scramble. Kahaulelio himself started the season at No. 3 in the depth chart but moved up due to injuries.
“Credit (Chow-Agor) for staying engaged and (stepping up) in this situation when we absolutely need him,” Kamehameha coach Kaeo Drummondo said. “He at least gives up hope, to run an offense.”
Saint Louis marched 80 yards in 10 plays and tied it at 14-14 after Apduhan’s 1-yard scoring plunge and Kauai’s extra point with 2:37 remaining before halftime. But two out-of-bounds kickoffs helped give Kamehameha a short field starting at its own 45 on the ensuing series, and the Warriors capitalized eight plays later when Chow-Agor again threaded the needle to Purcell from five yards out, and Akau’s PAT gave them a surprising 21-14 lead 11 seconds before the break.
“We knew they were going to come out with everything they got and try to upset us and end our season,” Apduhan said. “But that’s just on us, we gotta rise to that.”
The Crusaders’ first series in the second half ended with a three-and-out, but Kamehameha muffed the ensuing punt and Aycen Fernandez recovered to give Saint Louis the ball back at the Warriors’ 16. On the very next play, Apduhan sprinted to paydirt and Kauai’s extra point tied it at 21-21.
Later in the third quarter, Apduhan took a shovel pass from Kamakawiwo’ole on third-and-11 from midfield and dashed 41 yards to the 9. Two plays later, Kamakawiwo’ole found Lacaden in the back left corner of the end zone for a 6-yard scoring pass, and Kauai tacked on the extra point to put the Crusaders ahead for good at 28-21 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out on the next possession, Saint Louis scored four plays later when Kamakawiwo’ole connected with Lacaden for a 37-yard TD pass play and Kauai’s PAT made it 35-21 with 25 seconds remaining on the third quarter clock.
“The momentum swung,” Drummondo said. “We got a stop on the first drive, but then we didn’t execute on the punt return and give the ball away. Then they got a couple big plays (later) and we just weren’t able to get stops.”
When the Warriors finally did get a stop, with sophomore defensive lineman Malakai Lee making three straight tackles inside the 5-yard line, Makani Markle-Kane converted a 28-yard field goal for a 38-21 lead to effectively seal the victory with three minutes left.
Lacaden, a two-way player at slotback and defensive back, finished with eight catches for 95 yards and three touchdowns, and also made two interceptions on defense. But it was his spectacular open-field cuts that made him a dangerous challenge for Kamehameha.
“He’s a helluva player,” Drummondo said. “We had certain things in the game plan to have multiple guys on him, and he still was able to make a play.”
Defensively, the Crusaders did not allow Kamehameha past its own 40-yard line in the second half and came up with the three turnovers.
“I think the difference (after halftime) was everybody was just hungry and ready to play,” Apduhan said. “We gotta play to our level, play Saint Louis football.”
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