HALAWA — Led by a stout effort from its defense, No. 4 Punahou opened its Interscholastic League of Honolulu season with a 21-0 win over fifth-ranked Kamehameha Saturday night.
A crowd of about 2,500 at HawaiianTel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium saw the Buffanblu improve to 4-0 overall despite turning the ball over five times on offense and a season-low in both points scored and yards gained.
The Warriors (3-2 overall, 0-2 ILH) were shut out for the second straight week.
The teams combined for eight turnovers — five of them by Punahou. Quarterback Stephen Barber threw for 124 yards on 11-of-21 passing, but was intercepted four times. He also rushed for a team-high 113 yards — including a 54-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring late in the fourth quarter — but lost a fumble on his second rush attempt of the game.
"It was a tough game; Kamehameha played great," Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. "We made a lot of mistakes, but probably a lot of those were because of the way they played, so I was happy that we fought back and never gave up and when we had a chance, we took advantage of it."
After a scoreless first quarter, it was the Punahou defense that accounted for the game's first points.
Defensive back Tanner Ono stepped in front a pass from quarterback Brandon Baniaga near the left sideline and returned it 31 yards the other way for the pick-6.
"My teammate (Alakai Gilman) actually told me before the play even happened that the receiver was running a hitch, so then I just watched the receiver, he ran a hitch, I broke on it, I looked at the quarterback and the ball was right there," Ono said. "I just caught it and scored."
Timothy Horn tacked on the extra point to give the Buffanblu a 7-0 lead with 5:35 left in the first half.
The score held until late in the third quarter, when reserve running back Vincent Terrell went untouched on a 48-yard TD run down the left sideline.
"It was my first varsity touchdown in the ILH and it just felt great to help out the team," Terrell said. "We were a little slow at the beginning, but once we get our wheels going it's hard to stop us."
Terrell, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound sophomore did not register a carry in the first half. He finished with eight rushes for 60 yards.
"He's so quick that he's a good change-up to (6-foot-3, 225-pound back Sitiveni Kaufusi) and we felt like we could take advantage of a few things, but once he gets past the line of scrimmage he's gone," Ane said.
Punahou running back Vincent Terrell breaks free for a 48-yard TD run in the third quarter against Kamehameha.
The Buffanblu held on to a 14-0 lead after three quarter, but got an insurance score on Barber's long TD run with 3:12 left in the game. Barber, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, shed at least five tackles on his way to the end zone — just one week after his 99-yard TD run sealed the deal in his team's 56-42 win over Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.) in San Diego.
"People forget that this is his first year actually starting and playing significant minutes, so for him every opportunity he gets out there is a learning experience and he's just so athletic and makes great plays that he's going to do that every game — he's going to make something crazy happen — and we've just got to sit back and enjoy it," Ane said.
Ono had two of Punahou's three interceptions on defense — Kaulana Makaula had the other — and four different players registered a sack.
"We just worked hard all week," Ono said. "We grinded it out the whole week and we're happy with the outcome."
Kamehameha played without starting quarterback Thomas Yam, who sustained a shoulder injury in last week's 44-0 loss to No. 2 Saint Louis. In his absence Saturday, Baniaga started and finished 3-of-7 passing for 10 yards with two interceptions and Kiai Keone — who was playing in his first varsity game after a mid-season call-up from the JV — completed eight of his 20 throws for 50 yards with one pick.
Running back Kanoa Shannon carried 26 times for a game-high 125 yards to lead the Warriors offensively.
Kalamaku Kuewa had two of Kamehameha's four interceptions and Ezra Evaimalo posted a pair of sacks to pace the defense.
Kamehameha will have a bye next week before a rematch against the Buffanblu on Sept. 22. Punahou will play Saint Louis (3-0, 1-0) in a battle of unbeatens Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
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