The Nanakuli Golden Hawks escaped from Waialua on Friday night with a slim 22-14 victory over the last-place Bulldogs and an OIA White football playoff berth.
Despite five lost fumbles, including two that were returned for touchdowns, Nanakuli earned a playoff spot by finishing with a 5-3 conference record. The Golden Hawks join first-place Kaiser, Radford and Kalaheo in the White playoffs.
After the victory, Golden Hawks head coach Skippy Lopes said, “We’re in (the playoffs).”
Leading 22-8 with under a minute left, Waialua stormed back when Tala Fuatiga recovered a Nanakuli fumble and bolted 17 yards for a touchdown. Fuatiga capped a monster night on that play. It was his third fumble recovery of the game and second for a score.
“The first one (fumble recovery TD) amazed me, because as a defensive player, you never think it’s going to happen,” Fuatiga said. “And then the second one brought us one step closer to coming back and winning.”
The Bulldogs’ 2-point conversion pass failed, but they were within eight points with 52 seconds to go.
An onside kick try, however, went into the arms of Nanakuli’s Tryson Vincent, virtually ending the game and ending the season for Waialua (0-9, 0-7).