OIA Football
No. 4 Kahuku clamps down on Kaiser, 34-3


Fri, Aug 21, 2015 @ Kahuku [ 7:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Kaiser (4-5-0) 0 3 0 03
Kahuku (13-0-0) 7 13 14 034

Kahuku held visiting Kaiser to just 76 yards of total offense in its 34-3 Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Division win at Carleton E. Weimer Field Friday night.

The Red Raiders, ranked fourth in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Division I Football Power Rankings, improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in league play. Kaiser fell to 0-3 and 0-2.

The Cougars entered the contest having averaged 405 yards rushing per game in two stints behind the efforts of All-Hawaii running back Jensen McDaniel and quarterback Nicolas Tom. With McDaniel out with a foot injury, the Red Raiders' defense was able to contain the run and hold Kaiser to 54 yards on the ground.

"During the week coach Vavae Tata came up with a game plan against Kaiser and we just all bought in and it worked," said linebacker Hirkley Latu, who finished with five tackles and a sack. "Everyone did their assignments, played assignment football and did their jobs. It was a great team win overall."

Latu and outside linebacker Manaia Atuaia (six tackles, one sack) played a critical in stopping Tom on read-option plays to the outside. Tom managed a 40-yard gain on an inverted veer play up the middle, but was sacked five times and ended up with 16 yards rushing on 16 carries.

"We just knew we had a big task ahead of us," said Atuaia, a first-team All-Hawaii selection in 2014. "Nicolas Tom is a strong runner and fast, so we knew that we had to keep contain and do our job."

The Red Raiders' victory also avenged a 20-19 loss to the Cougars in the previous season. 

"During the whole week all the players from last year just said that it sucks to lose," said running back Sefa Ameperosa, who rushed for a season-high 150 yards and two touchdowns. "We treated this whole week with a positive attitude and we won today."

While the Red Raiders were determined to win the contest, the Cougars seemed ready to throw it away considering the 14 penalties that were whistled against them, majority of which came prior to the snap and after the play was dead. 

Penalties also plagued Kaiser when the Cougars had their best scoring opportunities. A high snap on fourth down gave Kaiser possession at the Kahuku 15-yard line early in the second quarter. Kaiser could not get anything going in the red zone after getting whistled for a false start and a delay of game and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Andrew Kaufusi, the Cougars' only score of the game.

Another example came in the third quarter after linebacker Parker Higgins recovered a Kahuku fumble at the Red Raiders' 30-yard line. On the ensuing play, three fouls were called against the Cougars. Tom was charged with intentional grounding for a 38-yard loss and two unsportsmanlike calls after the play saw the Cougars facing a daunting 2nd-and-70 situation on their own 10-yard line.

"I thought it was a one-sided game with the refs, but that's just my opinion," said Kaiser coach Cameron Higgins. "We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot, lost our good field position and put ourselves in bad situations. You're not supposed to win those kind of games anyways. That's the formula for losing games and we made a perfect recipe over there."

Kahuku's first score of the game came after the defense forced a three-and-out. The Red Raiders got the ball back on their own 39-yard line and had a six-play drive capped with fullback LeRod Tongi's seven-yard touchdown run. Tongi also added five tackles and two sacks on defense.

The home team's next score followed Kaufusi's 31-yard boot. Quarterback Kesi Ah Hoy ran around left end for a two-yard score to give Kahuku a 13-3 lead with 6:52 to go in the second quarter.

Ameperosa accounted for the next two scores, one coming on a 40-yard scamper in the second period and the other coming on a seven-yard sweep after halftime.

The Red Raiders' final score of the night was set up by a 65-yard punt return by Stokes Botelho. Ted Kenese punched in from four yards out a play later and Kekoa Sasaoka's PAT made it 34-3 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.

Kahuku will host McKinley (0-3, 0-2) next Friday while Kaiser has a week off before traveling to Waipahu (1-1).

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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