Lunas pull away to beat Sabers

Tihada rushes for three touchdowns in Lahainaluna’s 32-13 victory

Joshua Tihada of Lahainaluna High School carries the ball during the first half of the Lunas’ 32-13 victory over Maui High on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium. -- GLEN PASCUAL photo

WAILUKU — The Lahainaluna High School football team prides itself on anticipating whatever the opponent can produce.

The plan worked well on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium as the Lunas got three touchdown runs from Joshua Tihada and wore down a gritty Maui High team in a 32-13 win.

“In the first half we came out pretty strong and then in the second half, again, pretty strong,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Garret Tihada said. “We’ve got to make sure we can be a little more consistent in our play.”

After leading 18-7 at halftime, the Lunas (2-0) put together an 86-yard, 14-play drive on their first possession of the third quarter, capped by Joshua Tihada’s final touchdown, a 3-yarder.

“We bent, but we didn’t necessarily break,” Garret Tihada said. “There’s a lot offensively and defensively that we have to clean up, though.”

Elijah Ragudo of Lahainaluna carries the ball as Maui High defender Sterling Ibanez looks to make the tackle. -- GLEN PASCUAL photo

After stopping the Sabers (0-2) on downs at the 6-yard line on the ensuing drive, the Lunas broke the game open on Derek Perez’s 89-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Maui High scored the final touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Raymond Brex Delray to Christian Lee with 4:40 to play. It was the Sabers’ third completed pass of the game.

Maui High was bolstered by the return of 17 players from academic probation.

“We knew that once their kids came off of probation that they had a bunch of their starters back,” Garret Tihada said. “We knew that was coming and they gave us all we could handle tonight.”

Lahainaluna starting quarterback Etuati Storer was limited to two snaps, both at the end of the first half, because he was injured, Garret Tihada said. Kamahao Acpal ran the offense for most of the night, finishing 0-for-2 passing and gaining 31 yards on 10 carries.

“I think being thrown into a game like this, he did very, very well managing the game,” Garret Tihada said of Acpal.

The Sabers had three runners gain more than 50 yards — Nala Nakamoto ran 19 times for 120 yards, Kainalu Tancayo had 74 yards on 11 carries and Justin Pulido had 52 yards on eight carries.

“We got the running game going,” Maui High coach Rodney Figueroa said. “We’ve got to work on the passing game and get that balance on offense.”

Perez gained 99 yards on three carries, Elijah Ragudo ran for 91 yards on 11 attempts and Joshua Tihada had 77 yards on 13 carries. In all, 11 Lahainaluna players carried the ball for 347 yards. They did not complete a pass in three attempts.

“Very disciplined, they play disciplined ball, well-coached,” Figueroa said of the Lunas. “They’re No. 1 to me right now.”

Lahainaluna went 90 yards in 10 plays on the opening possession of the game, and took a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Joshua Tihada. Ragudo ran four times on the drive for 49 yards, including a 29-yard jaunt on the play before the touchdown.

The Sabers went 64 yards on their first possession, but turned the ball over on a fumble by Nakamoto that was recovered by Siale Hafoka at the 16-yard line.

Lahainaluna pushed the lead to 15-0 on an 8-yard touchdown run by Joshua Tihada that capped a seven-play, 66-yard drive with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Lunas’ Pablo Rico kicked a 46-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare with 5:10 left in the half.

Maui High got on the board when Solomone Tongi scored on a 12-yard run out of the wildcat formation with 1:04 to go in the first half. He ran 11 yards on the play before the touchdown.

The Sabers went 81 yards in 10 plays on their first scoring drive, including a 29-yard scramble by Tancayo.

Maui High committed nine penalties for 115 yards.

“We’re getting there but the penalties, the 15-yard big penalties are hurting us,” Figueroa said. “That’s a killer, kept some of their drives alive and they’ll take advantage of that. They’ll put points on the board if you give them those big penalties.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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Lahainaluna 15 3 7 7–32

Maui High 0 7 0 6–13

First Quarter

LL–Joshua Tihada 10 run (Kaihulali Casco kick), 8:30.

LL–Tihada 8 run (Elijah Ragudo run), 1:14.

Second Quarter

LL–FG Pablo Rico 46, 5:10.

MH–Solomone Tongi 12 run (Kalia Kapisi kick), 1:04.

Third Quarter

LL–Tihada 3 run (Casco kick), 4:10.

Fourth Quarter

LL–Derez Perez 89 run (Casco kick), 9:42.

MH–Christian Lee 15 pass from Raymond Brex Delray (kick blocked), 4:40.

Junior varsity–Lahainaluna 42, Maui High 7.

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