Posted: October 19, 2012 - 11:46pm
No. 2 Punahou pounds No. 7 Saint Louis, 38-0
HALAWA - So much for the drama.
Larry Tuileta threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns to lead Punahou to a dominating 38-0 win over Saint Louis in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu game Friday.
A crowd of about 5,000 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium saw the Buffanblu win their sixth straight to claim their second consecutive ILH Division I title and become the first Oahu team to punch its ticket to next month's First Hawaiian Bank/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Football State Championships.
"Being ILH champs isn't easy. We talk about it everyday. We talk about how it was last year and how a lot of things changed for us, but as a team, we really just came together and knew that we had to work a little harder and everyone just took to it and the result was great," said Tuileta, who finished an efficient 20-of-28 passing with no interceptions.
Punahou, ranked second in this week's ScoringLive/OC16 Power Rankings, improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the ILH and handed Saint Louis its first shutout loss of the season. The seventh-ranked Crusaders saw their season come to a close with a 5-5 overall record and 4-3 mark in the ILH.
A Saint Louis win would have put pressure on Punahou to beat Kamehameha (4-2) Thursday in the regular-season finale for both teams, which would have left all three teams with identical 5-2 records. A three-team, two-game playoff would have ensued with one team drawing a first-round bye. However, the Buffanblu needed to win just one of its final two games to seal up the ILH race and earn the league's sole state-tournament berth.
"It's great, you know, both Kamehameha and Saint Louis are tremendous programs and you never want to put yourself in a do-or-die situation, if you can help it, so it was huge tonight to be successful and win outright," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "The coaching staff did a marvelous job, the kids performed and executed and that's all you can ask. I'm very proud of them."
The Buffanblu amassed 375 yards of total offense while the Crusaders were limited to 271, including just 61 rushing.
The Punahou defense got to Saint Louis quarterback Kawai Mook-Garcia for three sacks - two by defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule - and Joseph Augafa intercepted a pass, which led to one of five Punahou touchdowns.
"Saint Louis' defense was doing really well in the first half. They played a heck of a game today. They adjusted to our plays really well and they were able to hold us up in the first half," said Tuileta, who completed just three of his first eight pass attempts. "Second half, we talked about it and we really just brought out some of our new stuff and we were able to execute those plays really well. Everyone knew what their assignment was and what they had to do."
The Buffanblu caught an early break when an apparent-Ryan Tuiasoa fumble on the first play of their second drive was recovered by the Crusaders' Tanner Oshiro. However, the referees declared there was an inadvertent whistle and the down was replayed.
"Once we knew that we got the ball back, we knew that we had to step it up because they were giving it to us and we couldn't slack off," Tuileta said. "We had to execute our plays well, we had to do our jobs. We were a litle rusty at the beginning, but we ended up pulling it off."
Punahou took advantage of its second chance and drove to the Crusaders' 10, where Charles McDonald's converted on a 27-yard field goal made it 3-0 with one minute and 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
Saint Louis coach Matt Wright said the overturned turnover was a microcosm of the game, as well as the season.
"The referees admitted it was their fault, but I don't get it how you can say there was an inadvertent whistle after the fumble," said Wright, who was promoted from defensive coordinator late in the summer after the sudden resignation of former head coach Darnell Arceneaux. "It's just the way it is, but it seems like it was the theme of the season."
Late in the second quarter, the Buffanblu orchestrated a 12-play, 78-yard drive that took 4:27 off the clock and culminated with Tuileta's 8-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Torres. The play was set-up by 34-yard pass from Tuileta to Kotoni Sekona three plays earlier. Following the PAT by McDonald, Punahou took a 10-0 lead with 56 seconds to play before halftime.
Tuileta put his team ahead, 17-0, midway through the third quarter with his 11-yard touchdown pass to Noah Willey.
Saint Louis drove to the Punahou 11 on its ensuing drive, but a holding penalty negated what-was-to-be an 11-yard Adam Noga touchdown run and four plays later, Augafa picked off Mook-Garcia. He returned it from the Punahou 5-yard line to the 33 and four plays later, Tuileta cashed in with his third touchdown pass - a 17-yarder to Tuiasoa - to make the score, 24-0, after three quarters.
Tuileta added his fourth scoring strike - a 36-yarder to Torres - on his final pass of the game and Heisman Hosoda closed out the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.
"I thought that Punahou played a great game, but we had our opportunities and we didn't capitalize on them," Wright said. "We could never really seem to get the momentum going to develop and sustain drives and capitalize on drives and in the end, Punahou was able to make adjustments and we weren't able to score."
The Buffanblu played without star receiver Kanawai Noa, who sat out due to a high-ankle sprain. He leads the state with 978 receiving yards on 42 catches and 15 touchdowns.
"The kids stepped up. We talked about how when someone goes down, somebody has to step in," Ane said. "The coaches did a good job of preparing them both mentally and putting them in a good position to make plays."
Ane said he hopes to empty his bench against the Warriors Thursday.
"I think we'd like to get some of the kids some experience and get others some rest," he said. "It's a real short week, Kamehameha is very physical and they're very tough, so we'll probably play a lot of guys."
Punahou and Maui Interscholastic League champion, Baldwin, are the only two teams to clinch state tournament berths so far. The top three finishers from the Oahu Interscholastic Association and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation titlist fill out the rest of the tournament field.
October 19, 2012
> more video highlights
Punahou quarterback Larry Tuileta gets set to make a throw against Saint Louis. Sean Nakamura | SL
Punahou TE Dakota Torres had 5 receptions for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns against Saint Louis. Sean Nakamura | SL
Punahou Darreon Schwartz takes down St. Louis RB Adam Noga during a play. Sean Nakamura | SL