HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a meeting of the two most storied programs in Hawaii high school football history, it was the defense of the Kahuku Red Raiders that got the better of Saint Louis' high-powered offense. Kahuku, helped by seven Crusaders turnovers, won its eighth state championship 39-14.
After performing the haka on the field during the coin toss, Kahuku started with the football and went three-and-out. Kekoa Sasaoka's ensuing punt was blocked by Iosefo Noga and picked up by Kainalu Paikai who returned it 10 yards for the touchdown giving Saint Louis a 7-0 lead.
From there the turnovers started to eat away at the Crusaders. A fumble on their first drive led to a Kesi Ah-Hoy 11-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
Tua Tagovailoa, who was held to 190 yards passing with three interceptions, scrambled 15 yards on the first play of the next drive before fumbling. Kahuku recovered, and nine plays later Ah-Hoy scored on the ground from six yards giving the Red Raiders a 13-7 lead.
Lining up to punt late in the first half, a bad snap by Saint Louis went out of the end zone for a safety and a 15-7 Kahuku lead. With the ball, the Red Raiders needed five plays to find the end zone again. Ah-Hoy hit John-Raymond Falemalu through the air for a 27-yard touchdown and a 22-7 halftime lead.
The second half provided much of the same for the Saint Louis offense which was held to 140 totals yards in the game. Another high snap on a punt gave way to a Kekaula Kaniho 17-yard fumble return for the touchdown putting Kahuku up 29-7.
Tagovailoa's lone touchdown of the day came on a three-yard run to bring Saint Louis within two scores at 29-14. In the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa hit Noah Alejado for a 24-yard touchdown, but it was called back due to holding. The Crusaders junior quarterback was intercepted three plays later leading to an Ah-Hoy 19-yard touchdown run which put the game away.
Kahuku finished the season 13-0 and captured its first state title since 2012.