Kahuku unable to complete the upset against nationally-ranked St. Frances


Fri, Sep 30, 2022 @ Kahuku [ 7:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Saint Frances (1-0-0) 8 0 0 1422
Kahuku (12-2-0) 0 8 0 715

KAHUKU — They could almost taste it.

The Kahuku Red Raiders were minutes away from shocking the world.

But the No. 3 team in the country woke up just before September ended to deny Kahuku's upset bid.

Visiting St. Frances (Baltimore) scored 14 unanswered points and punched in the game-winning score with 39 seconds remaining in regulation to rally past the Red Raiders, 22-15, in a non-league matchup at Carleton E. Weimer Field Friday night.

Kyree Benton's first reception of the game on a 10-yard catch-and-run from Michael Van Buren provided the go-ahead score for the Panthers, who improved to 5-0.

The late score overshadowed a legendary performance by the Red Raiders' defense, who came up with numerous goal line stands throughout the contest. It was St. Frances' only offensive score in the game as the Panthers were 0-for-4 in the red zone prior to Benton's touchdown, although TV replays showed that he stepped out around the 2-yard line.

"I'm so proud of our defense and our players, they fought hard all the way," said Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho. "St. Frances is the real deal, but hats off to my boys. They played their hearts out tonight. I'm proud of them."

Ryan Manning was the star that sparked St. Frances' come-from-behind win, catching three passes for 67 yards on the game-winning drive. He finished with eight receptions for 176 yards in the game as he routinely got open on medium crossing routes.

With Kahuku running back Clyde Taulapapa out of the game after suffering an injury last week against Kapolei, Vaaimalae Fonoti handled most of the carries for the Red Raiders as he rushed 32 times for 61 yards and two TDs. His second scoring run with 8:54 left in regulation broke an 8-8 tie to give Kahuku its first lead of the game.

The Panthers drove all the way to the Kahuku 1-yard line on their opening possession of the game before turning it over on downs. They still ended up scoring first however after Kameron Howard picked off Waika Crawford on the ensuing possession for a 25-yard pick-six. Manning ran in a jet sweep around left end on the conversion to give St. Frances an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Red Raiders (6-2) found the end zone early in the second quarter after a 19-yard punt gave them possession at the St. Frances 30-yard line. A 12-yard scramble by Crawford and a 9-yard completion to Kaimana Carvalho alongside a pair of encroachment penalties against the Panthers helped set up Fonoti's 1-yard TD run with 9:18 to play in the first half.

Kahuku tied in on the 2-point conversion when Carvalho took a wingback reverse around the right side before lobbing it over a number of defenders to a wide-open Liona Lefau in the back of the end zone.

The score would hold at 8-8 until the fourth quarter when Kahuku's Madden Soliai blocked a punt that was recovered at the 1-yard line. Fonoti scored on the very next play and Zaden Mariteragi tacked on the PAT to give the Red Raiders a 15-8 lead.

Momentum appeared to swing completely in Kahuku's favor after the score as Tyson Rodrigues recovered the ensuing kickoff to give the Red Raiders possession at the St. Frances 24-yard line. Kahuku could only muster two yards on the next three players however to make it a fourth-and-8 situation at the 22-yard line with 7:44 remaining in regulation.

Mariteragi, who kicked a 33-yard field goal earlier in the year on a muddy field, initially lined up for what would have been a 39-yard attempt before the two teams traded timeouts.

That's when the game turned.

The Red Raiders came out in a shotgun set after the stoppage, but they never even got a play off. The snap was botched and Dashawn Womack scooped the loose ball and went the other way for a 60-yard return.

A sideline infraction and an unsportsmanlike penalty after the defensive score is what prevented this from being the tying or go-ahead score. The Panthers had to try the conversion from 33 yards out and Van Buren's pass was completed just outside of the end zone to trim Kahuku's lead, 15-14, with 7:32 left in the game.

Kahuku got just one first down on the following possession, but still was given an opportunity to put the game away when Falealii Atuaia picked off Van Buren at the St. Frances 45-yard line with 3:08 remaining.

The Red Raiders notched another first down and forced two St. Frances timeouts before the drive stalled at the 32-yard line. Carvalho's punt on fourth down went for a touchback to set up the Panthers' game-winning drive at their own 20-yard line with 1:45 left on the clock.

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