HALAWA — Saint Louis' first half dominance was enough to hold off Punahou, 40-20, Saturday night at Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.
The Crusaders (7-0), No. 1 in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Division I Football Power Rankings, clinched the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I first round. The No. 4 Buffanblu (5-2) will play No. 5 Kamehameha (3-4) Friday to start the second round. The winner will play Saint Louis for the second-round title the following week.
Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro accounted for 286 yards of total offense and had a hand in four touchdowns to lead the Crusaders. He passed for 229 yards on 18-of-30 passing and two TDs and rushed for 57 and two more TDs for the Crusaders.
Hugh Brady paced Punahou on 10-of-30 passing for 204 yards and one TD.
Saint Louis thoroughly dominated the first half in taking a 24-0 lead. Punahou's seven series ended on downs, punts or turnovers (a fumble and interception by LB Noa Purcell). The Buffanblu managed only four first downs and crossed midfield only when Saint Louis muffed a punt. Still, Punahou lost the ball on downs at Saint Louis' 27.
"It was just get to the quarterback was our job as outside backers," Saint Louis LB Isaiah Feary said. "We pretty much did that."
"We started poorly and they put a lot of pressure on us," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "They made some big plays and took advantage of things we were trying to disguise."
The second half, though, was another story.
"They changed up their blocking scheme and caught us off guard," Feary said.
After Saint Louis cashed in on a Punahou fumble with Cordeiro's 27-yard TD pass to Mitchell Quinn, the Buffanblu needed just three plays to cover 75 yards to get on the board on Brady's 12-yard TD pass to Andrei Iosivas to pull to 31-7.
Punahou recoverd on onside kick at Saint Louis' 44 and scored on Maninoa Tufono's 1-yard run on fourth down. Punahou had to earn that score, needing seven plays starting from the 3-yard line to eventually score. A roughing the passer penalty gave Punahou an automatic first down for the extra set of downs in the series. The drive also was aided by two pass interference penalties.
"We had so many pass interferences and all that stuff; those things happen, but I'm happy," Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. "When you win and get a win for the kids who worked hard, we're awfully happy for them."
Cordeiro did not have his TD passes until the second half. In the first half, he scored on a 33-yard run after dropping back to pass. His second TD, a 10-yard run, came on a QB draw.
Slot Chance Beyer scored on a 2-yard run and Jacob Tobias added a 33-yard field goal to round out the first-half scoring for Saint Louis.
Besides his TD pass to Quinn, Cordeiro also had another for 36 yards to Makoa Close.
Just after Punahou pulled to 31-13, its comeback try was derailed by a safety when a snap in punt formation sailed out of the end zone for a safety to increase Saint Louis' lead to 33-13.
After the ensuing free kick from Punahou's 20, Saint Louis took over at midfield and needed just five plays to score its final TD, Cordeiros' 36-yarder to Close.
"Now we're in the do-or-die situation," Ane said. "We have to play Kamehameha, who played well against Saint Louis last week. That will be a challenge for us."
Quarterback Stephen Barber, Jr.'s status is still up in the air. Brady started, but Barber came in for one play but was slow in getting up and never returned to the game.
"Unfortunately, he's been hurt," Ane said. "He tried to play with the pain and went in for a play and tweaked it a little bit more, so we gave him a break; safety is always the most important thing."
Lee said his team needs to minimize its penalties — 12 for 91 yards.
Otherwise, the Crusaders seem to be ready for postseason. Their knock-down, drag-out 56-50 win against California's Narbonne on Sept. 23 woke them up.
"They put the pressure on us and showed up to play," Feary said. "We still got the ‘W," but it taught us a lot, where we need to be and we're not really on the top and that we always have to be ready because there's always someone better."
So far for Saint Louis, no one in the state has shown that yet.
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