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Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveOctober 3, 2015, 12:11am
Fri, Oct 2, 2015 @ Punahou [ 3:15 pm ]
MAKIKI — Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns to lead Punahou to a 35-23 win over visiting Iolani at Alexander Field Friday afternoon.
The top-ranked Buffanblu, who had already claimed the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's first-round Division I title with its 51-45 double-overtime victory over Saint Louis last week, improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in league play.
Taulapapa, a senior running back who recently gave a verbal commitment to play at BYU next year, carried just 11 times and averaged over 13 yards per attempt, scored on runs of 16, 4 and 39 yards in the first half and added a 1-yard TD in the third quarter.
"I think we did OK," said the always-humble Taulapapa. "Personally, it was a good game, but as a team we've got to step it up way more. We had a bunch of our backups in, which was good. They got a good experience out of it. Iolani gave us a hard time in the beginning, so we were struggling, but we were able to pull out the win, so we're pretty happy about that."
With senior Ephraim Tuliloa continuing to heal up from a reported shoulder injury he suffered back on Sept. 11 — the last time these teams met up at Iolani's Kozuki Stadium — junior Nick Kapule made his third consecutive start at quarterback for Punahou. He was an efficient 8-of-9 passing for 147 yards while leading four drives, or a little more than one quarter of action, before giving way to sophomore Stephen Barber.
"Every week Nick is getting more mature, especially with Ephraim helping him out," Taulapapa said. "He's got Ephraim on the side cheering him on and helping him out with his technique and the things that he does, but he definitely brings a patience factor to the team."
Barber threw for 30 yards on 4-of-16 passing, including a 15-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Keala Martinson, and added 10 rushes for 88 yards.
"It was nice. We wanted to give (Barber) some live reps and have an opportunity to play against a good team," Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. "It's such a tough league, it's such a tough state with the defenses, so to give them experience and playing time is really something that's important."
Taulapapa capped Punahou's second possession with his first touchdown, when he took the handoff from Kapule, started in the middle of the field before breaking away toward the left sideline and finding the end zone.
Iolani put together a 14-play drive on its ensuing possession, but turned it over on downs at the Buffanblu 30-yard line. Three plays into the drive, star wide receiver Keoni-Kordell Makekau hauled in an 18-yard pass from quarterback Tai-John Mizutani, but took a solid hit along the left sideline. He was tended to by athletic trainers and walked off the field under his own power, but did not return to the game.
The Buffanblu needed just six plays to score. Kapule hit Eamon Brady for a 56-yard pick-up on a play-action pass and four plays later — on fourth-and-goal — Taulapapa lined up behind a pair of fullbacks and went untouched for a 4-yard touchdown run.
After an Iolani three-and-out, Punahou took over at its own 44-yard line. Kapule connected with Ethan Takeyama for a 22-yard pass to convert a third down and one play later, Taulapapa scampered up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown.
"The o-line made a great block," Taulapapa said. "I was able to get a one-on-one with the safety and then the corner came by, so I think it's all just instinct and what we practiced we were able to do on the field, so it's exciting, but my o-line was killing it today."
The Raiders then drove 80 yards on a 17-play drive, which culminated with a 1-yard Gafoaleata Fetui-Salavea touchdown run.
Punahou intercepted Mizutani four times on the day, the first of which came with just under two minutes to play in the first half. Alakai Mashima picked off Mizutani deep in Buffanblu territory and returned it 56 yards to the Raiders' 36-yard line.
Five plays later, Martinson fan a post pattern from the left side of the formation and pulled down the scoring strike from Barber. Jet Toner tacked on the PAT to give Punahou a 28-7 lead at the intermission.
The teams exchanged scores on the opening possessions of the second half to make it a 35-14 game.
Mizutani threw his second touchdown pass of the half when he found Melvin Hoomanawanui on a 4-yard toss with 7:05 to play. Iolani got a safety in the closing minutes when Buffanblu reserve running back Antonio Cortez Feria was tackled in the end zone to close out the scoring.
The Raiders got inside the Punahou 10-yard line on their ensuing drive, but Ola Aina picked off Mizutani in the end zone on a fourth-and-1 play for a touchback and Buffanblu ran out the final seconds. It was Aina's second interception of the game, the first coming late in the third quarter.
"It was just teamwork — that's all we had — and we just believed in each other and trusted that the player across from you would make the right choice and the plays would go down the way we wanted it," said Aina, a sophomore defensive back.
"Guys with very little experience stepped up, they listened to the schemes, they didn't back down and we're very, very proud of them," Ane said. "The kids are playing hard, the coaches are doing a good job of preparing them every week and you've got to be lucky, too. We had a lot of kids step up from injuries and did a wonderful job, so we're building team chemistry and everybody is there to help each other out."
Wide receiver Nicholas Kennedy had 15 receptions for 169 yards to lead tenth-ranked Iolani, which dropped its fifth consecutive game to fall to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in league play.
Punahou beat Iolani, 59-22, in the ILH first round and will take on fifth-ranked Kamehameha Thursday at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.
The Raiders will play No. 2 Saint Louis next Saturday in Halawa.
Twelve student-athletes, including the first from Lanai, will be honored June 2.
The Campbell senior shortstop batted 0.524 through the OIA regular season and playoffs.
The Kailua senior led all Division I pitchers with 72 strikeouts on the year.
The Marauders' third baseman helped the team go undefeated in the regular season.
The Mililani senior outside hitter won the award two years ago as a first-year setter.
Na Menehune senior was a six-rotation player that attacked from all areas of the court.