By Stacy Kaneshiro
After a sluggish first half, junior quarterback Brett Kan shook off the butterflies to lead No. 3 Punahou over No. 7 Saint Louis, 31-20, last night in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I season opener at Aloha Stadium.
It was the first time in 10 years the Buffanblu (4-0 overall, 1-0 ILH) beat the Crusaders (2-2, 0-1). Punahou defeated Saint Louis, 21-13, on Sept. 30, 1995.
"Finally," Punahou receiver Miah Ostrowski said. "Ten years!"
"This was a big opener for us," Punahou defensive end Jonathan Overton said.
"It's been a long time," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "They're a great team, fought to the end and we held our breath to the end."
A 17-yard reverse by receiver Chase Alcott gave the Crusaders a 7-0 lead. Punahou could only counter with a 29-yard field goal by River Kim with 1:28 left in the half.
The Buffanblu struggled, while Kan tried to find his rhythm. He was 7 of 17 for 67 yards and had two interceptionsboth - by Jeffrey Kahler - in the first half. But he responded by going 9 of 18 for 165 yards and two TDs in the second half, finishing with 232 yards.
"I started off jumpy," Kan said of his slow start. "But I relaxed a little bit (in the second half.)."
It wasn't looking good for the Buffanblu early in the third quarter when the Crusaders blocked a punt that was downed at the Punahou 3, where quarterback Cameron Higgins scored on an option keeper with 10:39 left in the quarter to increase Saint Louis' lead to 14-3.
But Kan stepped up, engineering a 12-play, 72-yard drive - kept alive with a 10-yard completion to Zac Yamagishi on fourth-and-5 at the Saints' 19 - that ended with a 4-yard TD pass to running back Kainoa Carlson to pull Punahou to 14-10.
The Buffanblu took the lead in the fourth quarter, when Kan hit Ostrowski on a hitch near the left sideline. But a Saint Louis defender couldn't hold on to Ostrowski at the Saint Louis 35, where he turned and sprinted to the end zone, holding the ball out before reaching the end zone and getting called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The penalty was enforced on the extra-point attempt, but Kim's kick was good for a 17-14 lead.
"I know the defensive back on that play is going for my outside shoulder," explained Ostrowski, who had nine catches for 125 yards. "I just turned."
After pinning the Crusaders deep in their territory, thanks to two sacks by Overton, Saint Louis punted, giving Punahou possession at the Saints' 38. Three plays later, including a 35-yard scamper by Colin Viloria with Kan trying to block downfield, Carlson scored on a 1-yard plunge to make it 24-14.
The Crusaders tried to drive on their ensuing possession, but linebacker Steven Dannaway sealed the game when he chased Higgins, who lost the ball. Dannaway picked it up and ran 46- yards for a TD to make it 31-14.
Saint Louis scored with 1:24 left on a 26-yard TD pass from Higgins to Shane Ahlo Jr. Punahou recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Punahou played without defensive back Sam Higgins and running back Ryan Nobriga because of injuries.
"We had a couple key injuries, but the guys stepped up and did a good job," Ane said. "And our coaches, offensive and defensive and special teams, did a real good job."
The Crusaders were without their top back, Cody Wells, in the second half with stomach problems, Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. Wells had 27 yards on nine carries in the first half, but did not return in the second.
"It kind of hurt our running game," Tengan said. "We didn't establish the run, getting the down and distance where it's easier to pass. Give credit to them. We didn't execute real well offensively and defensively, we were sloppy on tackling."
For a printable version of this story: Punahou downs St. Louis"
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