Punahou outduels Mililani for season opening victory


Sat, Aug 12, 2023 @ Mililani [ 6:30 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Punahou (4-2-0) 0 7 14 021
Mililani (5-1-0) 7 7 0 014
Treston McMillan 240 yd 1 TD
Ty McCutcheon 258 yd 2 TD
Makel Paiva 63 yd 1 TD
Astin Hange 192 yd 1 TD

Punahou put a damper on the celebration of Mililani High School's brand new turf and video scoreboard at John Kauinana Stadium last night by holding off the Trojans, 21-14, in a rematch of last year's Open Division State Semifinals.

A good-sized crowd of about 3,500 watched the Buffanblu rally from a 14-7 halftime deficit to take the lead for good late in the third quarter and then stop Mililani at the Punahou 15-yard line on the game's final play.

"I've had to say this multiple times, but we're not the same team as last year, even though there are so many familiar faces," Buffanblu coach Nate Kia said. "We have a different chemistry, and we're learning. So this was very good first step and great 'W' for us."

Both starting quarterbacks -- Punahou's Ty McCutcheon (14-24, 258 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) and the Trojans' Kini McMillan (24-33, 240 yards, 1 TD, no picks) -- showed good efficiency but both defenses also stood out, especially the Buffanblu pass rush which produced six sacks for 48 yards.

"It's not really about scheme, it's more about our brothers coming together," said senior linebacker Blayne Shiraki, who had four of those sacks, among his team-high seven tackles. "I feel like our team as a whole did a good job coming together."

Mililani struck first quickly, taking the opening kickoff and marching 60 yards in eight plays, capped by McMillan's 17-yard touchdown pass to Makel Paiva, with Lyric Sarae's extra point giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead with 8:48 still remaining in the first quarter. The Buffanblu tied it five minutes into the second quarter after they were pinned on their own 5-yard line following a 55-yard punt by Davyn Joseph. On second-and-8, McCutchoen found Astin Hange down the right sideline, and after shaking a defender, Hange raced all the way to the end zone for a 93-yard scoring play. Carson Beard's PAT tied it at 7-7.

Mililani answered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive culminating in McMillan's 3-yard keeper, and Sarae's point-after put the Trojans up, 14-7, with 1:43 before halftime.

The Buffanblu responded with their own nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive after the second-half kickoff, capped by Iosepa Lyman's 1-yard run followed by Beard's extra point to tie the score at 14-14 with 8:44 left in the third quarter.

McCutcheon later connected with Hange on a 40-yard pass to spark an eight-play, 73-yard TD drive culminating in McCutcheon's 18-yard scoring throw to Lyman on third-and-9 with 1:54 remaining in the third quarter.

Punahou finished 4-of-10 on third-down conversions, and cashed in on one-of-three on fourth down.

"For us, with the way we play defense, getting multiple first downs is key, it's almost as good as a score," Kia said. "Being able to dominate the ball really helps us, that's a specific thing we want to do every game."

Mililani got the ball back on its own 25-yard line with 22 seconds left in the game, and advanced to the Punahou 37 with one second on the clock. But a completed pass on the final play ended with a tackle on the 15-yard line.

Besides the six sacks, the Trojans were saddled with 19 penalties for 151 yards, including one that negated a punt return for an apparent touchdown and another that erased a fake punt for an apparent first down.

"It's the penalties, but also the timing of the penalties," said Mililani coach Rod York, who added he will review the game film and address certain questionable calls with administration and/or officials if appropriate. "At the same time, we give credit to Punahou, because they came out and beat us. They did a great job executing their game plan."

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