LAS VEGAS — Bingham did what Kahuku usually does to its Hawaii opponents.
The Miners (4-0) out of South Jordan, Utah, limited the Red Raiders (4-1) to 121 yards of total offense in a 17-0 win Saturday night in the Polynesian Football Classic at Sam Boyd Stadium.
It was the first time Kahuku has been blanked since Aug. 15, 2008, a 35-0 loss to Kamehameha.
It was the second year in a row that Kahuku, No. 1 in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Football Power Rankings, has lost to a No. 1 team from out-of-state. Last year, it lost to eventual national champion Bishop Gorman, 35-7, in Las Vegas. Bingham is No. 1 by both the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.
The Miners held the Red Raiders to 121 yards in total offense, just 46 rushing. Kahuku's leading rusher, Enoch Nawahine was limited to 26 yards on 15 carries. Eight of his rushes were for no gain or lost yardage.
"We see run at practice and we're pretty good at it, too," Bingham coach John Lambourne said. "So we see it at practice, so that probably helps. There wasn't anything we did specifically or game plan for Kahuku alone, but that's a priority, to always stop the run. Our kids played real well, but I love their kids, too. That was a darn good football team and played a darn good football game inspite of the score. I was impressed with them."
The Red Raiders defense was on the field long, as the Miners ran 65 plays to Kahuku's 38.
"Our defense played great," Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas said. "They showed a lot of heart. They were on the field a long time. They never gave up; they kept fighting."
Two of Bingham's TD-scoring drives were kept alive by quirky plays.
On the Miners' second series of the game, they faced second-and-6 at the Kahuku 37, when Wood fumbled a snap from center, appeared off-balanced, yet shed defenders en route to a 6-yard gain for a first down. Six plays later, Wood scraped off left tackle for a 3-yard TD run. Brandon Lopez's PAT gave Bingham a 7-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
On Bingham's first series of the second half, it burned Kahuku with a fake punt on fourth-and-7 at the Red Raiders 45. Upback, Amoni Kaili, took the short snap up the middle for a 30-yard gain to the Kahuku 15, setting up his own 8-yard TD run thee plays later.
Earlier in the game, Bingham faced fourth-and-15 from its 37. Wood set up to punt, but the snap dribbled to his right. He picked up the ball and completed a 23-yard pass to KC Lewis for a first down. But the Red Raiders' defense stuffed the Miners for no gain on the next three plays, forcing them to punt.
"(The snapper) thought a different caller was supposed to punt it," Wood explained. "I just kind of picked it up. Tight end was at the right place at the right time. My guys are excellent at playing on the fly."
"He's been in big ball games," Lambourne said of his quarterback/punter. "He's a pretty saavy guy. He doesn't panic and as a result, he was able to make those plays."
Added Freitas: "That's what Bingham does. They don't hurt themselves. They take advantage of the opportunities. We knew that coming into this game."
Bingham's other score came on a 32-yard field goal by Lopez with 3:16 left in the first half. That came after the Red Raiders' defense faced first-and-goal at the 1. Wood was stopped for no gain on first down. Kaili, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound back, was blocked for no gain on second down. Wood again could not break the plane. On fourth down, running back Braedon Wissler scored on a toss, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty behind line of scrimmage. With the ball backed up to the 15, the Miners settled for the field goal.
With QB Sol-Jay Maiava nursing a left-shoulder injury (non-throwing side) from last week's Aiea game, Thorton Alapa started at QB. He was 6 of 16 for 75 yards, including a nice back-pedalling grab by Nawahine when the Red Raiders changed to an empty set on offense.
"At first I was scared," Alapa said of his first start. "I just wanted to do my best for the team. I just wanted to win and take it for Hawaii … I should've made better reads, should've been faster. I should've changed couple plays, call audibles."
Maiava suited for the game, but after the game, he was seen wearing a shoulder sling. In pregame, Alapa was the only QB throwing passes.
Kahuku linebacker Fatu Atuaia had two sacks of Wood.
"It was a good challenge to see what we can work on," Atuaia said.
Wood was impressed with Kahuku's play.
"They're physical, they're hard to move around," Wood said. "That's a really good football team that we played. That's why they're ranked natonally."
Bingham provided Kahuku the kind of competition it sorely needed to aid them in its quest to return to the state tournament.
"We'll take the lessons learned from this game and apply it when we get back to Hawaii," Freitas said.
The Red Raiders will return to Hawaii on Sunday.
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