Monday, May 10, 1999
By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Brian Ah Yat evades the rush of the Stallions' Rex Walters
yesterday during his last game for the Hammerheads. Ah Yat
is leaving the team to join Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
The defensive back is pressedBy Jerry Campany
into duty by injuries and answers
by keying a 53-37 win
Special to the Star Bulletin
True playmakers make an impact wherever you put them.
Niko Vitale was all the playmaker the Hawaii Hammerheads needed in a 53-37 win over the Idaho Stallions at the Blaisdell Center yesterday.
Vitale, a regular starter at defensive back who played for Waipahu High School and the University of Hawaii, was pressed into service as a running back because of injuries to regular runners Brendyn Agbayani and Calvin Mims.
"It (running back) is a tough position to play," Vitale said. "I'll do it again if I have to, but I hope Agbayani and Mims come back soon."
Vitale made offense look easy by rushing for 80 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns in what is usually a game dominated by the pass.
He contributed to the passing game also, tacking on another TD on an early pass from quaterback Brian Ah Yat.
"Niko is an exciting player wherever he is on the field," Hawaii head coach Guy Benjamin said. "Our only concern about putting him on offense is how much it will hurt our defense."
His absence didn't hurt the defense a bit. The Hammerheads (2-2) didn't allow Idaho (1-3) a single yard on the ground and forced two interceptions by John Obey, Jr.
Before the Stallions finally clicked on the passing game in a futile late comeback, Hawaii had held them to 53 yards in the air. The Stallions finished with 109 passing yards on the 50-yard field.
Idaho was within three points with 1:36 left in the first half, but Hawaii backup quarterback Tim Carey hit Eddie Klaneski crossing from right to left in the middle of the end zone as time ran out in the half. The catch put the Hammerheads up 26-17.
A halftime adjustment made the Hawaii defense instantly unbeatable.
Doug Semones switched his defense from a straight-up man to a blitzing zone scheme, and it worked to perfection.
The Hammerhead defense confused and harassed Stallion quarterback Travis Stuart into 5-for-14 passing on the first four possessions of the half. By the time Stuart directed his team into the end zone, Ah Yat and Carey lengthened the lead to 46-17 with a pair of touchdown passes, the last from Carey to Darrell Jones with 4:47 left. The Stallions made a late charge, but Vitale effectively ended the threat with a 40-yd run with a minute left to make the score 53-29.
The game was a homecoming for former UH and current Stallion lineman Egalagi Clarke, and a finale for Ah Yat, who will join the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.
"We are gonna miss Brian. I hope I was able to teach him at least something," Benjamin said. "He has a great future but a lot to prove to people. But Tim Carey also has a lot to prove, and I think he will do that.