ALIAMANU — Kailua recyled three of six interceptions into touchdowns and got two safeties to run over Moanalua, 44-0, Friday night in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I regular-season opener at John E. Velasco Stadium.
Samson Rasay rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Aaron Mejia passed for 180 yards and three TD for the Surfriders (1-0).
Moanalua turned over the ball six times, all on interceptions, including two by Bruddah Spencer-Choy Foo, and recovered its own fumbles twice in the end zone accounting for the safeties.
"We knew from Day 1 our defense could pretty much get after anybody," Kailua coach Hauoli Wong said. "They proved it tonight. They played a pretty sound defensive game from what I expected out of them. Everybody made plays across the board, offensively and defensively."
It was a nightmare from the start for Na Menehune (0-2), who played a strong first-half a week ago in a non-league contest with Punahou before falling, 35-7. Moanalua took the opening kickoff and Kolo Hanawahine-Wong intercepted Nick Au's first pass of the game on the first play from scrimmage and returned the ball five yards to the Moanalua 16. Four plays later, on fourth-and-7 from the 13, Aaron Mejia hit Tanner Wright on a fade to the left corner of the end zone. It was the first of six interceptions by Kailua and the first of three that led to scores.
"Plain and simple: horrible," Moanalua coach Savaii Eselu said. "There's no way to put it. No way to play around it and I know coach Joe (Wong) knew it. My hat off to him and his squad."
The interception set the tone for the game.
Kailua's offense earned the third score of the game. Mejia completed third-down passes of 33 and 25 yards to keep the Surfriders' drive alive to set the stage for his 7-yard TD pass to Kaniala Williams with 8:10 in the half. The PAT failed, but Kailua led 20-0.
"Aaron did a heck of a job," Wong said. "He took what they gave him. Whatever they took away, he took away something else."
Dakota Kadooka came up with yet another interception for Kailua and returned it 31 yards, but fumbled it away at the Moanalua 8 with 4:07 left. But Na Menehune found itself with fourth-and-1 from its own 17. After a timeout with 3:19 left, Na Menehune decided to go for it, but Au's incomplete pass gave Kailua the ball with 3:13 left. Two plays later, running back Cameron Dudoit-Kamai scored on a 1-yard run to make it 33-0 with 2:16 left in the half.
"At that point, we just pulled everything out and figure, ‘Just try it,'" Eselu said, "Only because we had other issues with our punt team. It's like you're between a rock and a hard place, but there's no way out."
Although Kailua was on the brink of sending the game into the running clock, the third period was scoreless. Kailua had interceptions by Spencer-Choy Foo and Williams, who had a 60-yard TD return nullified by a holding penalty.
Late in the third, Kailua partially blocked a Moanalua punt and took over from the Na Menehune 14. Kailua failed to score when it had an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal at the 4 early in the fourth.
Backed to its end zone, Ezra Grace was tackled in the end zone by Taylor Tagupa for a safety with 11:45 in the game to make it 35-0 and set off the running clock.
Rasay returned the ensuing free kick 25 yards to the Moanalua 49. The six-play drive ended with a 14-yard TD run by Cole Weber to make it 42-0.
Later in the game, Rasay rushed 56 yards but fumbled at the Moanalua 5. But two plays later, Au bobbled the shotgun snap and another Na Menehune recovered it but was tackled in the end zone for the second safety of the game making it 44-0 with 10 seconds left.
About the only concern for Kailua was losing three fumbles, two near Moanalua's end zone.
"I'm happy with (the outcome), but the three fumbles I'm not," Wong said. "I know my running back coach (Victor) Tolentino will have something for them Monday (at practice). I know it's that extra effort that they're fighting for. I preach that. Once you got it (the long yardage), just go down already; be happy with what you have, then we'll just go on to the next play. But I can't take away from that effort they gave me. These kids are tough. You saw my two running backs, they're barely 160 pounds; they run like they're 200 pounds. But you have to know at a given point you have to get down, you have to take care of the ball. You're that far ahead, you have to squeeze that ball. It's those little things when you're ahead you have to focus on."
Kailua hosts Buckeye Union of Arizona Friday night in a non-league game.
It does not get easier for Moanalua, which visits Kahuku on Aug. 25 after a bye next weekend.
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