HONOLULU — It was blazing at Alexander Field on Saturday afternoon. The only thing hotter was Punahou’s offense.
The Buffanblu rolled up 572 total yards on their campus to overpower Saint Louis for the second time this season, 42-21, and clinch the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s Open Division first-round title.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for coach Nate Kia’s Buffanblu, who were 1-4 last season. Saturday was a similar result to the teams' first meeting, a 43-19 Buffanblu runaway at Farrington on Sept. 17.
“We use that as motivation every day. We just don’t want that feeling ever again,” said junior receiver Astin Hange, the Spectrum OC16 Impact Player of the Game after he grabbed eight catches for 169 yards and two scores.
Senior quarterback John-Keawe Sagapolutele tossed 414 yards and three touchdowns on 24-for-33 passing, with one interception.
Junior running back Alai Williams complemented the passing game with 17 carries for 95 yards and two trips to the end zone.
Punahou (6-1, 3-0 ILH) averaged 8.8 yards per play and did not punt. The Buffanblu led 28-14 at halftime.
The shifty, 5-foot-9 Hange had a 64-yard catch-and-run to get the scoring started and added a 14-yard TD late in the third quarter.
“Coming off this bye week, we knew this was a crucial game for us,” Hange said. “There’s a bunch of distractions going on in our school, such as Flaming P, but we had to stay focused, cut out the distractions and put in the hard work at practice every day.”
Punahou faces Kamehameha (0-5-1, 0-3) next week before Saint Louis (3-4, 2-2) and Kamehameha must duke it out in the first round of the ILH playoffs.
Saints quarterback Kahi Graham was 22-for-30 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. Punahou linebacker Blayne Shiraki had a key end-zone interception of Graham in the first quarter. Shiraki also led his team with seven total tackles.
Yosei Takahashi led the Crusaders’ receivers with five catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Some more shots from the game:
Brian McInnis covers the state’s sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii.