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Lunas hold off Kapaa

Lahainaluna quarterback Esekielu Storer releases a third-quarter pass as Kapaa's Raiden Kurisu rushes. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — The Lahainaluna-Kapaa high school football rivalry put another chapter in the history books for the Neighbor Islands on Saturday night at Sue Cooley Stadium.

The Lunas defeated the Warriors 21-18 in a game that came down to the final possession. It was the fourth straight victory for the Lunas in the series that is becoming a can’t-miss for fans of the Division II ranks in the 50th state.

“No doubt, we already knew coming in what we were going to expect,” Lahainaluna co-head coach Dean Rickard said. “I mean, we’ve seen each other for the last four or five years and sometimes twice in a season. They’re big, they’re physical, they’re very well-coached. We have a pretty good relationship with the coaching staff and what we expected was what we saw.”

Lahainaluna had 11 different players record rushing yards, led by Josh Tihada’s 49 yards on 11 carries. The Lunas were limited to 97 yards on the ground, although Ezekielu Storer was 9-of-12 passing for 145 yards, 65 of which went to Kai Bookland on his four receptions.

The Warriors finished with 241 yards on the ground — 160 by quarterback Kahanu Davis, who ran for both Kapaa touchdowns. Davis struggled in the passing game, completing just 2-of-11 passes for 24 yards.

Lahainaluna's Treven Tihada takes a third-quarter handoff from quarterback Esekielu Storer. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“They stuck to their ground game, they took it to us,” Rickard said. “Fortunately we had some key players who returned this game and it had some impact as far as us being able to match up with them.

“All credit to them because they took it to us and pushed us to our limits, but we’re fairly happy with what we had. We’ve got a lot to work on.”

The Lunas took a 14-3 lead into halftime.

After Kapaa came up with a stop on Josh Tihada on fourth down at its own 1-yard, the Warriors drove 91 yards in 17 plays and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Laakea Gonsalves with 11:06 left in the second quarter.

On the next play, Devon Sa-Chisolm electrified the crowd with a 98-yard kickoff return to give the Lunas a 7-3 lead they would not relinquish.

Sa-Chisolm was one of the key returnees for the Lunas who missed their 38-31 overtime loss to Damien two weeks ago. He returned from concussion protocol.

“Devon returned, this was his first game,” Rickard said. “We were fortunate to have him come back this time and no doubt, if you look at Devon, he has good vision. He’s able to see the field. He has good speed. He showed it tonight on that return, but the other 10 guys set up the return.”

The Lunas pushed the lead to 14-3 on a 1-yard dive by Tysyn Estrella with 4:12 left in the half. That capped an eight-play, 61-yard drive that was helped by three penalties totaling 25 yards.

Kapaa crept within 14-10 on a 58-yard run up the middle by Davis on fourth-and-1 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

After the Lunas fumbled three plays later, Raiden Kurisu recovered for Kapaa on the Lunas’ 40-yard line.

This time the Lunas defense stopped the Warriors on downs and the offense responded.

Kaihulali Casco capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring dive that gave the Lunas a 21-10 lead with 1:57 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors pulled within 21-18 on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that was culminated on a 3-yard run by Davis with 4:11 to play. Davis kept the drive alive on a 13-yard run on fourth-and-6 to the Lunas’ 7-yard line.

Kapaa got the ball back for the final time with 2:53 to go, but were forced to punt and the Lunas were able to run out the clock after Storer found Bookland for a 16-yard pass on third-and-11.

Kapaa beat the Lunas 21-0 in a preseason game in 2016. The Lunas turned the tables on the Warriors, winning D-II state finals in 2016 and 2018 between the two, and a preseason game last year.

“I going to watch out because going to get one statue of me over here,” Kapaa coach Philip Rapozo said with a smile. “You know what? We love this – that’s why we’re here. We want to keep this rivalry going. We think this is a good, big rivalry that we’ve been doing for some years now. We came out on the low end, but we’ve got a lot to learn.

“We competed a lot better for a first game than I thought we would – a lot of bugs to fix. Hey, I’m OK with the outcome.”

Kapaa 0 3 7 8-18

Lahainaluna 0 14 7 0-21

Second Quarter

K-Laakea Gonsalves 25 FG, 11:06.

LL-Devon Sa-Chisolm 98 kickoff return (Brian Sandoval kick), 10:50.

LL-Tysyn Estrella 1 run (Sandoval kick), 4:12.

Third Quarter

K-Kahanu Davis 58 run (Gonsalves kick), 7:59.

LL_Kai Casco 1 run (Sandoval kick), 1:57.

Fourth Quarter

K-Davis 3 run (Davis run), 4:11.