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Kalani takes step toward playoffs

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    2015 October 3 SPT - Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus Kalani Falcon's running back Sean Silas shakes off defenders as he runs in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Pearl City Chargers in an OIA boy's football game at Kaiser Football Stadium in Hawaii Kai on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

Kalani completed Step 1 of its path toward a third straight OIA Division II playoff appearance.

Step 2 is going to be a little bit tougher.

The Falcons held onto their slim postseason hopes with a 22-8 win over Pearl City on Saturday night at Kaiser Stadium, eliminating the Chargers from playoff contention.

Kalani (4-4, 4-3) remained tied for fourth in league play with Waialua, which plays undefeated Radford next week in the regular-season finale.

Not only do the Falcons need the Bulldogs to lose, but they also need to beat an angry Nanakuli team that suffered its first OIA regular-season loss in two years on Friday night to Radford.

"It’s exciting, because years ago we might not have been talking like this," Kalani coach Greg Taguchi said. "Nanakuli is a fantastic team. It’s going to be a challenge for us and hopefully we can meet that challenge."

The Falcons are still alive thanks in part to defensive end Sione Vea, who returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown against the Chargers (2-5, 2-5).

Both defenses dominated a game that came down to critical errors by Pearl City, which hadn’t finished with a losing record in league play since 2009.

Vea reached up and snagged a pass at the line and returned it for the opening touchdown 88 seconds into the game.

Kalani’s other first-half touchdown came on Sean Silas’ 16-yard run after a bad snap by Pearl City sailed over quarterback Isaiah Asinsin’s head and was recovered at the Chargers’ 12-yard line.

Pearl City had another drive stall out when a bad snap was eventually recovered by the defense for a 35-yard loss. Kalani’s Payton Awaya also blocked a field-goal try.

"The defense played tough tonight," Taguchi said. "Every week they’ve played tough to keep us in ballgames."

Kalani’s defense had three interceptions and three sacks and Vea dominated the line of scrimmage with seven tackles. Five of those tackles were for a loss.

The interception return was the second touchdown of his career. He returned a fumble for a score last season.

"I just reached up and caught it," said Vea, who is 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds. "We had two weeks to prepare and we’ve worked hard.

The Falcons overcame the loss of starting quarterback Seth Tina, who left the game with an injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.

Tina was 3-for-5 for 35 yards when he got hurt and backup Quinn Griffiths failed to complete any of his 10 throws.

Silas picked up the slack offensively and rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns. His 29-yard run with 4:26 remaining put the game away after Joe Maneafaiga’s touchdown run 45 seconds earlier pulled the Chargers to 16-8.

"We challenged the line, challenged the offense, to step up and score and they met the challenge and scored," Taguchi said.

Maneafaiga finished with 126 yards on 22 carries for Pearl City, which had 95 total yards of offense.

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