Saturday, September 17, 2022 | By Nick Abramo
Seven yards is all Kaiser needed, but it was not to be.
When visiting Pearl City’s Shyne Kalilikane-McMoore tackled the Cougars’ Donovan Reis at the 7-yard line as time ran out, it was the Chargers who erupted in celebration after holding on for a 27-21 OIA Division II football victory Friday night.
What a relief it was for Pearl City that Kalililkane-McMoore upended Reis. Seven more yards and it would have been a 39-yard touchdown pass from Easton Yoshino with an ensuing extra-point try to win it.
“We had ‘em,” Pearl City coach Robin Kami said after the final whistle. “Kaiser’s a great team and you can’t let up on them until the scoreboard shows double zeroes. Our defense played great and our offense did good enough to score enough points to win the game.
Earlier, when 6:34 showed on the clock, those Chargers were comfortably ahead, 27-7.
Having slowed down the Cougars’ dynamic offense for most of the game, it seemed like it was just a matter of closing the door.
But Yoshino and his receivers, who had difficulties against Pearl City’s defense all night and appeared to be out of sync, stormed back with a vengeance.
A low punt snap was the Chargers’ first breakdown and Kaiser took advantage of what turned out to be a 22-yard loss with a 36-yard TD drive, capped by Yoshino’s 21-yard pass to Reis to make it 27-14 with 2:40 to go.
Then, Jesse Palmer came up huge for the Cougars, recovering the onside kick that led to a Yoshino to Reis 49-yard TD connection to trim the deficit to 27-21. That play came with 2:28 still remaining, just 12 seconds after the duo’s earlier TD hookup.
When Kaiser got the ball back for its final possession with 32 seconds left, Yoshino completed passes of 17 and 13 yards before that 32-yarder to Reis came up a bit short.
“The whole game was going their way,” Yoshino said. “Our defense was playing great, but our offense wasn’t executing as a whole. Seeing that shot (pass) come out and him (Reis) run in (for the 27-14 count) gave me goosebumps and that made everybody say, ‘Hey, we can play with anybody.’ “
In the first half, Pearl City (5-1, 4-0 OIA D-II) grabbed a 14-7 lead on Bradley Kansou’s 17-yard TD reception from Trey Dacoscos and Koalii Torres’ 3-yard run.
After the break, interceptions by Zadrin Kaulia and Taohi-John WIlliams led to Chargers touchdowns on Dacoscos’ TD passes of 8 yards to Torres and 74 to Kansou for the 27-7 bulge.
“We had a lot of will to fight,” said Williams, who had two picks in the second half to keep the Cougars (2-3, 2-2) from erupting earlier and finished with 14 tackles.
Roaring back after being down by 20 points will be something Kaiser coach Tim Seaman will remember.
“To be behind and come back, there’s a lot to learn and a lot of positives from that,” he said. “I hope this can be one of the takeaways from this game … where did the ball finish up? We were (7) yards away from one of those magical, miracle comebacks or whatever you want to call it.”
Yoshino threw for 369 yards, including 171 yards on 11 passes to Reis, but he also had three interceptions.
Dacoscos, who hurt his ankle badly near the end of the first half and returned to play a lot the rest of the way, went 20-for-29 for 223 yards and three TDs without an interception. Kansou was the recipient of six of those passes for 125 yards.
“It was very intense, very close, especially toward the end” said Pearl City defensive end Dorian Payton-Sherman, who had a sack among his two tackles for losses, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. “They (the Cougars) really picked it up, but we did what we had to do and won the game.”
Photos by Jarin Kobashigawa
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