Posted: August 10, 2012 - 2:00pm
Defense gives Campbell boost to beat Kaiser, 34-6
Campbell linebacker Solomon Leaeno takes a intercepted pass and brings it back the other way. Sherwin Acidera | SL
'EWA BEACH-Campbell made winning ugly an art form to beat Kaiser, 34-6, Friday night in a non-league prep football season opener at the Sabers' field.
Two defensive touchdowns off fumbles helped the Sabers (1-0) overcome three turnovers and a staggering 23 penalties totaling 186 yards against the Cougars (0-1), who went without a true spring ball because of a coaching transition.
The Sabers spoiled the high school coaching debut of former long-time University of Hawai'i assistant Rich Miano, who was named the school's coach during the summer. But his Cougars stayed with the more physical Sabers for a half before wearing down.
"We hung in there at halftime, but there were a couple mistakes we made that if we didn't make those we would've actually been in more of the game," said Miano, a teammate for one season with Campbell coach Amosa Amosa at UH. "They kind of wore us down. A lot of guys going both ways, or on special teams. We don't have the numbers. This is a good Red Division team. Amosa does a good job coaching these guys. I'm proud of the effort. I'm proud of the way the defense played and special teams played. We just had a few too many turnovers."
Linebackers Solomon Leaeno and Donovan Poniatowski each had fumble recoveries for touchdowns and one interception apiece to pace a Sabers' defense that also had three sacks, two from lineman Jodeci Kakiva. Leaeno recovered a fumble in the end zone and Poniatowski snatched a pitch from quarterback Makana Lyman and raced 80 yards for his TD. Leaeno returned an interception for an apparent 60-yard TD that was nullified by a illegal block, settling for a 40-yard return instead.
The Sabers also lost another apparent TD earlier in the game, when Brannon Bantolina fumbled at the Cougars' 1 after an eight-yard reception from Isaac Hurd. The ball rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.
The Sabers continued where it left off last year by using Justin Tago-Su'e and Hurd at quarterback. Tago-Su'e took the majority of snaps, completing 16 of 30 for 134 yards and one interception. He had a nine-yard TD pass to Paul-Andrew Rhoden. Hurd was 7 of 13 for 62 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to Jayce Bantolina.
Both QBs are athletic enough to play other positions, Amosa said. Tago-Su'e, a senior and third-year varsity player, showed his athleticism with a crucial 46-yard run on third-and-20 to the Cougars' 14 just before the half to set up the Sabers' go-ahead score on the TD pass to Rhoden. Amosa said he might move Hurd, a junior, to receiver.
"We're in the process of trying to figure out if one of them is on the field, where can we put the other one," Amosa said. "Ike (Hurd) is too talented to be on the sidelines. They both can play receiver. I told Ike tonight to expect some time at receiver…He has good hands, good speed."
The Sabers took a 6-0 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter when Leaeno recovered a fumble by quarterback Curt Clivio in the end zone. Tago-Su'e missed the PAT.
Kaiser, aided by a personal foul against Campbell on the ensuing kickoff, took over at midfield and cashed in on the good field position, eventually scoring on RB Kai Gonda's one-yard run with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Keara Ortega's PAT was blocked and the game stayed tied at 6.
Campbell took a 12-6 lead at the half on Tago-Su'e's TD pass to Rhoden with 32 seconds left.
The Sabers scored on their first series of the second half on Rhoden's two-yard run. Tristan Pebria ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 20-6 with 5:31 in the third quarter.
Leaeno's interception set up another Campbell score, Hurd's 15-yard TD pass to Jayce Bantolina on a fade. Tago-Su'e's PAT made it 27-6 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Poniatowski's 80-yard fumble return with 1:00 left wrapped up the Sabers' scoring for the night.
While the Sabers have another non-league game (at Kailua on Friday) to iron out their penalties and turnovers, the Cougars start O'ahu Interscholastic Association White play against Kalaheo next Saturday at Kailua.
August 10, 2012
Donovan Poniatowski, 80 yard fumble return for TD.
> more video highlights
Donovan Poniatowski (54) and the Campbell defense pressured the Cougars into two fumbles, both returned for touchdowns, and two interceptions. Sherwin Acidera | SL