There will be no state tournament for the Wolfpack of Pac-Five, the lone Division II football team in the ILH.
There will be, however, many memories of teammates who refused to lose. Chase Hedani’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Kaala Tam with four seconds left capped a major comeback, as Pac-Five rallied from a 14-point deficit for a stunning 28-21 win over Pearl City on Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium.
“We work on that all the time at practice. I’m just glad we could get it there. I was trying to get him a jump ball, but then the corner was pressing real tight, so I tried to go over the top,” Hedani said of Tam’s play.
Pac-Five improved to 5-3, all against OIA Division II teams, clinching their first winning season since 2009. The Wolfpack are not eligible to play in the HHSAA state tournament because the ILH does not meet standards for representation in the D-II state tourney. For a long stretch of the game, the ’Pack seemed to be lackluster and flat.
“Our senior leaders talked to us at halftime,” Hedani said.
Veteran Wolfpack coach Kip Botelho had plenty to discuss with officials in the late going, when the scoreboard showed that there were no timeouts for his team. He checked and got confirmation he still had one more in the final seconds. He pulled his place-kicker and put his offense back out there to get the winning TD.
“I trust our kicker, but we had one more down and that timeout in my pocket. We were at the left hash, so it was a horrible angle,” Botelho said. “Our quarterback made a great throw.”
For three quarters, the Chargers were sharp. They scored in their second series of the game, going 80 yards in 11 plays. A little trickery out of coach Robin Kami’s playbook did the job as Isaiah Cruz-Ameperosa caught a backward pass and lobbed a spiral to Joshua Gleason for a 21-yard TD in the first quarter.
After Ali‘i Gaspar blasted up the middle for a 52-yard TD run, Pearl City led 14-0 with 9:39 left in the second quarter.
Pac-Five mustered a score on an 18-yard TD pass from Hedani to Tam with 3:09 to go in the first half.
After Gabriel Parrish returned a Pac-Five fumble 82 yards for a touchdown, the Chargers led 21-7 with 10:10 to go in the third quarter.
The Wolfpack answered quickly, driving 63 yards in eight plays to pay dirt. Hedani’s 10-yard TD pass to Ian Canute cut Pearl City’s lead to 21-14 with 6:46 to go in the third.
The Chargers punted and pinned Pac-Five at its 5-yard line with 2:25 left. Three snaps later, Hedani connected with Canute on the left sideline, and the senior turned on the afterburners for a 78-yard TD to tie the game at 21 with 1:32 remaining.
Pac-Five’s Matthew Miura then came up with an interception. With 54 seconds left and the ball at the Pearl City 39, Hedani completed two passes to Tam, then hit Angelo Coluccio for an acrobatic 16-yard reception at the Chargers’ 4-yard line.