The Kahuku defense literally took away any chance of a Leilehua upset.
Sophomore cornerback Kawehena Johnson returned a fumble for a touchdown and picked off Mules quarterback Kenan Sadanaga twice as the Red Raiders used six takeaways to run away with a 46-16 victory last night in the semifinals of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red playoffs at Aloha Stadium.
Sadanaga passed for 363 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted four times.
“Everyone played assignment football (in) getting turnovers,” said Johnson, who also had four tackles. “It’s just everybody doing their part.”
Aofaga Wily rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and Evan Moe threw for two scores to lead the Red Raiders into the OIA final against No. 3 Mililani next week. Kahuku (10-0) has won six of the previous seven OIA titles. The one exception came in 2007, when Kahuku lost in the first round to Kapolei and Leilehua won the title.
By winning, Kahuku and Mililani got into the state playoffs.
“We’re excited because now we know we qualified for states,” Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. “It gives us more time to play football and more experiences for these kids to get better.”
Leilehua (6-3), which hosts Waianae for the league’s final berth in the Division I state tournament next week, needed to play a near-perfect game to have a shot at upsetting Kahuku.
Instead, the Mules played one of their worst quarters of the year in the opening 12 minutes, turning the ball over four times.
Johnson scored on a 22-yard fumble return for Kahuku’s first score, and Sadanaga was intercepted three times, leading to a 27-6 Kahuku lead.
“You fall behind early against a good team like this, that’s the kind of things that happen,” Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said. “It’s playoff time and we can’t be making those kinds of mistakes, but I take responsibility for it to get our offense ready.”
Johnson had two of those picks and Trayson Medeiros added one, which led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Tyrone Brown.
Brown and Wily combined for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
Once Leilehua finally sold out against the run, Moe took to the air, throwing touchdown passes of 1 and 27 yards to Benetton Fonua as Kahuku led 33-9 at the half.
Leilehua came up with an early takeaway in the second half. Defensive end Penitito Melei forced a fumble by Brown and returned it to the Kahuku 27.
On the next play, Sadanaga tried to find Fred Padrones near the end zone, but Medeiros came up with his second interception of the game.
Kahuku needed only six plays to take the ball 84 yards. A 40-yard run by Wily helped set up his second rushing touchdown, this one from 8 yards out, and Kahuku led 40-9.
Sophomore Ku-J Tapuosa harassed Sadanaga all game, accounting for eight tackles and three sacks.
Sadanaga finished 33-for-52, but was slowed in the second half as Kahuku took away Padrones, who had eight of his nine catches before the break.
Padrones finished with 149 receiving yards, including a 72-yard touchdown from Sadanaga to answer Kahuku’s opening touchdown.
Jeremiah Andrade had nine catches for 89 yards and a touchdown and Darren Shealy hauled in eight passes for 74 yards for the Mules.
at Aloha Stadium
Kah–Kawehena Johnson 22 fumble return (Josh Sorensen kick)
Lei–Fred Padrones 72 pass from Kenan Sadanaga (kick failed)
Kah–Tyrone Brown 4 run (Sorensen kick)
Kah–Aofaga Wily 2 run (Sorensen kick)
Kah–Benetton Fonua 27 pas from Evan Moe (kick failed)
Lei–FG Tim Momiyama 26
Kah–Fonua 1 pass from Moe (kick failed)
Kah–Wily 8 run (Sorensen kick)
Lei–Jeremiah Andrade 19 pass from Sadanaga (Momiyama kick)
Kah–Brown 25 run (kick failed)
RUSHING—Lei: Stan Mersburgh 7-7, Darrien Shealy 1-1, Padrones 1-(minus 3), team 1-(minus 14), Sadanaga 8-(minus 20). Kah: Wily 20-165, Brown 13-83, Shawn Pahulu 3-29, Fonoivasa Mataafa 4-21, Moe 5-20, Tigi Hill 1-11, Sterline Moe 1-1.
PASSING—Lei: Sadanaga 33-52-4-363. Kah: Moe 8-12-0-121.
RECEIVING—Lei: Andrade 9-89, Padrones 8-149, Shealy 8-74, Cole DeCorte 5-13, Josh Jenks 1-17, Mersburgh 1-16, Elijah Barro 1-5. Kah: Shairone Thompson 3-80, Punga Vea 3-13, Fonua 2-28.