Saint Louis Crusaders defeat Punahou Buffanblu in thrilling ILH - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Saint Louis Crusaders defeat Punahou Buffanblu in thrilling ILH Championship game

St. Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa warms up before a 2015 game at Aloha Stadium. St. Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa warms up before a 2015 game at Aloha Stadium.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a thrilling third meeting this football season, the Saint Louis Crusaders defeated Punahou 27-23 at Aloha Stadium on Saturday to win the ILH Championship and advance to the HHSAA state football tournament. 

Saint Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa started hot on Saturday, throwing for two touchdown passes in the first half as the Crusaders took a 13-10 lead into intermission.

The Crusaders were first to strike after the break as well, as Tagovailoa hit Javen Spear on a 3-yard pass just moments before being tackled to give Saint Louis a 20-10 lead.

In the first two meetings between the schools this season, each team that ended up losing held at least a 14-point lead before succumbing to rallies by the other team. In continuing fashion, Punahou scored 13 unanswered points following the Spear touchdown to take a 23-20 lead over Saint Louis, their first of the game, with 9 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Tagovailoa, though, led the Crusaders on a lengthy touchdown drive that ending with a 4-yard run by running back Saitaua Lefau, giving Saint Louis the lead once again with less than 4 minutes to play in the game.

With Punahou driving and the game on the line, quarterback Nick Kapule threw an interception to Ronson Timbreza with less than a minute left in the game to seal the win for the Crusaders. 

Exactly seven days after scoring 30 unanswered points to win the ILH season finale and force the playoff game, Tagovailoa and the Crusader offense were sensational on Saturday night. Saint Louis rolled up 419 total yards on the Punahou defense behind 287 yards through the air from their all-state quarterback, who finished the game with three touchdowns on 22-of-31 passing.

Despite Tagovailoa's strong night, Lefau may have been the Crusaders' MVP. He caught two of Tagovailoa's passing touchdowns and rushed for a third, leading Saint Louis with 142 total yards from scrimmage.

The Crusaders are likely to have the next to weeks off while they await the start of the HHSAA state football playoffs. The OIA championship game is scheduled for Friday night at Aloha Stadium, and as champions of the ILH and the state's top-ranked football team, the Crusaders figure to have a first-round bye once the state tournament actually gets underway.

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