HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It wasn't the prettiest of victories, but the Kahuku Red Raiders were able to overcome a motivated Waianae side that pushed them until the final moments of the game in a tightly-contested 10-7 win at Aloha Stadium.
With the win, Kahuku advances to the Open Division State Championship game and will take St. Louis, a rematch of last year's title game.
Neither the Kahuku or Waianae were able to generate any offense in the opening half of play, as both defenses proved stingy - not surrendering any easy plays to its opposition.
Tied 0-0 at the half, the Seariders were riding high. They may not have been in the lead, but they were performing a lot better against Kahuku than they did earlier this season in a 37-0 loss.
In the third, Kahuku took the lead with a 31-yard field goal after a strong drive downfield to open up the scoring. The score remained 3-0 going into the fourth, where chaos ensued.
The Seariders were driving for the first time all game until they reached the red zone. On a well designed pass play, Waianae quarterback Justin Tacgere found receiver Keoki Davis on a 30-yard pass. What should've been first and goal wasn't, as Davis tried to fight forward for extra yards before getting stripped of the football, turning the ball over to Kahuku.
It appeared that Waianae had blown its only chance of the game to score, until three plays later.
Kahuku quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava dropped back in the pocket and surveyed the field, only to get strip-sacked on his own 13 yard line, turning the ball over back to Waianae with terrific field position.
From there, the ball was in Tacgere's hands to make a play for the Seariders. And for a few seconds, it looked like he would make the play of the game on a scramble into the end zone.
But as he crossed the one yard line, he too was stripped and the ball was loose. Fortunately for him and Waianae, the ball was recovered in the end zone by one of his teammates for a touchdown to go ahead 7-3 in the fourth.
Kahuku was looking desperate to score with with eight minutes remaining in the game as Waianae's defense held true. After a couple of three-and-outs for both teams, Kahuku got the ball back with a little over four minutes remaining in the game.
Kahuku drove down the field and entered the red zone with less than three minutes remaining, but wide receiver Wes Al-Maiava fumbled the ball in the red zone, giving the Seariders the ball back with the clock running down.
Kahuku's defense, has it had all season, came up big and stopped the Seariders from getting a first down, forcing the Seariders to punt from their own end zone. With good field position, Maiava had one more chance to lead his team to victory and he did just that, connecting with wideout Duke Heffernan for the game-winning touchdown with 58 seconds left in the game.
Kahuku will advance to the championship game to play St. Louis on November 18 at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.