Sunday, November 16, 2014

Punahou vs. Mililani for the title

Mililani's game-by-game approach helped the Trojans extend their season into the state tournament's final week for a second straight year.

Defense gave Mililani another shot at a title as the Trojans survived a 17-14 duel with Farrington on Saturday at Aloha Stadium to return to Friday's Division I final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships.

The Trojans scored on their first possession of the game and took a 14-0 lead, providing a cushion for a Mililani defense that recorded five sacks, two by Manu, among its seven tackles for loss. The Trojans recovered a pivotal fumble deep in their territory in the first quarter and maintained enough separation to fend off the Governors, who fell in the semifinals for the third consecutive year and the sixth time overall.

It wasn't all that pretty, but the Trojans will take it.

***

It's finally here — barely.

No. 1 Punahou and No. 2 Mililani can stop dodging questions about a potential rematch of the 2013 state final won by the Buffanblu.

The two powerhouses of their respective leagues will clash once again with the state championship on the line after Punahou survived an emotional affair against Kahuku with a 13-10 victory in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

Jet John Toner kicked two field goals in the final three minutes, including the game-winner from a career-long 48 yards to extend Punahou's winning streak to 19 games and send the Buffanblu to their fourth straight appearance in the Division I state final.

"It was just like every other rep we've had," said Toner, who made the kick with 30 seconds remaining. "We've done it a thousand times before. The offense put me in a great place and everyone did their jobs."

Punahou (8-0) beat Kahuku (9-3) in the first meeting between the two schools since the Red Raiders defeated the Buffanblu in the 2012 state final.

Punahou hasn't lost since then.

The team combined for 14 turnovers. Punahou, which averaged 48 points a game coming in, was held without an offensive touchdown and 147 total yards.

Quarterback Ephraim Tuliloa had thrown only two interceptions all year, but was picked off three times and finished 19-for-37 for 138 yards.

The Buffanblu had minus 4 rushing yards total with junior Wayne Taulapapa held to 25 yards on eight carries.

"We've done that all year," Kahuku coach Lee Leslie said. "It should have gone into overtime and we were ready for that."

Kahuku was whistled for consecutive defensive pass interference penalties on Punahou's final drive, including a questionable call on Gilman that moved the ball to the 35. A long throw down the sideline went incomplete and could have been called pass interference on the Punahou receiver for pushing off.

It wasn't, and Toner drilled the winning field goal.

Now the Buffanblu, which became the first team since Saint Louis (1999-2003) to make four straight title games, get the undefeated Trojans for a crack at their third state title overall.

"We got to see them play Saint Louis (a 63-37 win) early in the year and they're scary on offense," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us. In a situation like this everybody is focused and we're still close to our goal so it's a fun time for us all."

Kahuku outgained Punahou 270-147 but was done in by seven turnovers, including five interceptions.

*** [11/22/14]  What a game!

After a season of anticipation and a magnificent state championship game, the Trojan conquest is complete.

Mililani and Punahou rewarded the 19,254 who endured the traffic to Halawa on Friday with a state championship shootout that wasn't decided until Mililani quarterback McKenzie Milton ran out the final two seconds on a 53-45 victory over the Buffanblu at Aloha Stadium.

That Milton ended the game with a ball in his hands was fitting, as the junior's 421-yard, seven-touchdown passing performance helped the Trojans earn the first state title in school history with the win in the Division I final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football Championships.

Four of Milton's touchdown passes went to Kalakaua Timoteo, who ended the night with seven receptions for 117 yards, and Mililani finishing off the undefeated campaign by ending Punahou's 19-game run of victories.

Punahou hadn't dealt with defeat since losing to Kahuku in the 2012 championship game and was denied a second straight title on Friday in its fourth consecutive appearance in the final.

Punahou running back Wayne Taulapapa powered the Buffanblu with 260 yards and three touchdowns in their attempt to maintain their grip on the crown.

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