Monday, December 27, 1999
There will never be another moment like this one for June Jones.
No, not so much the 23-17 win over Oregon State to clinch the second annual Oahu Bowl. In his mind, this is the first step toward bigger things and brighter tomorrows.
But more the greeting he received from his family outside the stadium, especially from his 5-year-old son. JJ number four has a pretty cool rap name going, however, judging by the black chalk he had dusted underneath each eye, you figure he's following in his famous father's footsteps.
Jones scooped up his son in one motion and spoke quietly to him face-to-face, the rest of the world passing around them. There wasn't going to be another Christmas Day like this one. Jones wanted to savor every moment of it.
"I'm going to play a lot of golf,'' Jones said as he and his family of close friends broke from their huddle and headed toward their cars. "I'm very happy right now. And I'm going to feel a whole lot better tomorrow once all this sinks in.''
Jones had a feeling this one was written in the stars after Oregon State failed to capitalize on Hawaii's shaky start to Saturday's game. Not only did the Beavers drive the length of the field to score an easy touchdown on their first drive, they also had it first and 10 at the Hawaii 15 following an Avion Weaver fumble later in the quarter. The result? A failed 42-yard field-goal attempt by Ryan Cesca that hooked left.
He would miss two more during the course of the first half as Hawaii held on to a 10-10 tie. Much like the season, the Rainbows' defense bent like a palm tree in a strong tradewind, but rarely broke.
It led to defensive coordinator Greg McMackin's emotional break down after a game in which he won with one close friend, while beating several others. McMackin walked out of Aloha Stadium for likely his final time and took his teary-eyed family with him.
"I have a lot of close friends and fond memories with those guys on the Oregon State sidelines,'' McMackin said. "I feel for them, I really do. But I also feel a lot of aloha toward this group of guys.
"There will be other championships and other victories, but I'm telling you this right now from me and my family, there will never be another season like this one. I feel fortunate in 30-something years of coaching to be a part of a wonderful moment like this one on Christmas Day.''
McMackin experimented with what he called an "11 up" defense where everyone crowded the line of scrimmage. But after Oregon State tore through it for a 79-yard scoring drive on the opening series, he had to make a few adjustments.
"But give Coach McMackin credit for a good scheme because we just couldn't block them in the first half,'' Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson said. "We did a better job in the second half of protecting our quarterback, but they produced a lot (six) of sacks.''
Hawaii's defense still surrendered more yardage (438) than Hawaii's offense produced (349) in a game that would wind up being shown locally on ESPN because no one at Oceanic Cable knew how to flip the scrambler switch. But it didn't matter.
What the fans saw was senior quarterback Dan Robinson throw high early, thanks to an age-old ailing shoulder. But he was right on the money late in the game when it counted most. His two touchdown passes to Channon Harris were Nos. 40 and 41 in one of the more unusual careers in UH history.
"Thank goodness for shinsplints,'' said Robinson, whose first year in the program resulted in a medical hardship due to the injury. "I would have missed all this. My shoulder has been bothering me some, but that's part of playing. Everybody is banged up this time of year.
"Goodness knows the first two years here for me were difficult, but it was just part of the plan to end up at this moment in time. A moment I will never forget.''
Nor anyone else who followed this remarkable one-year turnaround that brought a smile or a shake of the head to the most cynical of faces. Fred vonAppen's final walk-about at Aloha Stadium was also spent with his family a year ago. But it wasn't as pleasant as this one for Jones.
"We've worked very hard as coaches, players and administrators to get to where we're standing today,'' Jones said. "Obviously, you have to have players with talent and who are willing to do what it takes to win. Without them, the rest of it wouldn't be enough to get to this point.
"Now, we have to get the recruits we need to keep this moving in the right direction. We lose a lot of key personnel who will be difficult to replace right away. We also have a more difficult schedule next season. So, it doesn't end here tonight.''
No, it doesn't. But give Jones a week off with his family and friends to think about what has been accomplished through a blend of hard work and good fortune. Much like the previous championship season of 1992, the ball bounced the right way at several key moments. As former UH head coach Bob Wagner liked to say, "It's fragile.''
Weaver allowedBy Paul Arnett
Rainbows to control ball
Avion Weaver walked down the tunnel toward the Hawaii locker room, his Oahu Bowl MVP trophy in hand. Instead of discussing what his 84 yards rushing on 18 carries meant to Hawaii's win over Oregon State, Weaver wanted to talk about Charles Tharp.
"He had over 1,300 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving this year,'' Weaver said of the former UH player, who left the program last spring in a swirl of controversy. Tharp wound up at Division I-AA Western Illinois.
"I talk to him all the time,'' said Weaver, who also caught five passes for 65 yards. "We're still close friends. I know he was watching this game at home on TV.''
Tharp and Weaver were like Cassidy and Sundance. Even though the two incoming freshmen were competing for starting roles two years ago, they formed a bond off the football field.
"You know, this offense isn't what Charles is all about and he knew that,'' Weaver said. "You can get the glory in the run-and-shoot, but you're going to have to sacrifice your body in pass protection. Charles wasn't that kind of running back. It worked out best all the way around.''
Although Weaver shared the spotlight with Afatia Thompson this season as the two split halves, it's hard to imagine Jones keeping Weaver on the sidelines as much next season. Thompson went out after the first series Saturday with a strained Achilles tendon.
Weaver came in and promptly fumbled. It could have been catastrophic considering Oregon State recovered it at the UH 15. But a strong defensive stand and a missed 42-yard field goal kept the goat horns at bay.
"I told myself that wasn't going to happen again,'' Weaver said. "My boys on defense came through for me. I just went out there in the second half and tried to punish anyone who got in my way.''
No, Weaver didn't catch two touchdown passes as Channon Harris did or throw two touchdown passes as Dan Robinson did or hit three field goals as Eric Hannum did.
"He just preserved the win for us by gaining some big yardage for us in the fourth quarter to keep our drives alive and the ball out of the hands of Oregon State,'' UH head coach June Jones said. "I've been saying for 25 years that you can control the ball on the ground in this offense. And that's exactly what we did thanks to Avion and the big men up front.''
The attendance for the Christmas Day doubleheader fell short of expectations of Bowl Games Hawaii and athletic department officials.
Attendance falls short
Saturday's Aloha Bowl won by Wake Forest over Arizona State may have had 8,000 in the house, but no more than that. It didn't look good on national television to see all those empty seats.
As expected, the crowd for the Oahu Bowl was much bigger and louder, but there were still at least 15,000 empty seats for the kickoff between Oregon State and Hawaii.
Bowl Games Hawaii CEO Lenny Klompus said about 5,000 tickets were still available by kickoff. Oregon State had the best representation from the three visiting schools with about 3,500 tickets being used.
"Quite frankly, we thought it would be close to a sellout,'' Klompus said. ""It's hard to say why. But I think it's a cause for concern.''
Flags were flyingThe Conference USA officials threw more yellow flags on the Aloha Stadium turf than any game this season -- and that's saying something considering Hawaii finished last in the league in penalties.
Oregon State and Hawaii were penalized a combined 23 times for 226 yards. There were seven personal foul penalties in the first half alone. UH wide receiver Attrice Brooks was kicked out of the game for booting an Oregon State player in the side of the head. It was ugly.
"It kind of turned into a street brawl,'' UH middle linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said. "They said some things about us and we said some things about them. They were really cocky coming in here. We showed them we can play with a Pac-10 program.
Especially goodEven without top return man Jamal Garland, who was suspended from the team for academic reasons, Hawaii still had a solid evening on special teams.
Lanky freshman receiver Sean Butts partially blocked an Oregon State field goal in the second quarter, Chad Shrout averaged 40.8 yards on four punts and Eric Hannum hit field goals of 26, 22 and 35 yards.
Hawaii also kept Oregon State pinned down on Shrout's kickoffs. The Beavers returned six kickoffs for an average of 13 yards. Their long was 19. Oregon State returned two of Shrout's punts for six yards.
Doubling upAs expected, top Oregon State cornerback Dennis Weathersby stuck by Dwight Carter's side for most of the game. He limited the senior receiver to only four catches for 29 yards, including a long of 12.
But with the extra attention focused on Carter, the safeties doubled up with Weathersby from time to time, it opened the airways for Channon Harris and he responded with five receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
"They doubled on Dwight and that cleared the way for me,'' Harris said. "I can't tell you how good those two touchdowns felt. I'm really excited about it. It's a team game and that showed today.''
By Paul Arnett
TEAMHawaii Opp FIRST DOWNS 272 278 Rushing 69 132 Passing 179 119 Penalty 27 26 RUSHING YARDAGE 1,152 2,409 Yards gained rushing 1,446 2,845 Yards lost rushing 294 436 Rushing Attempts 318 602 Average Per Rush. 3.6 4.0 Average Per Game 88.6 185.3 TDs Rushing 13 25 PASSING YARDAGE 4210 2552 Att-Comp 617-320 400-230 Had intercepted 20 17 Average Per Pass 6.8 6.4 Average Per Catch 13.1 11.1 Average Per Game 323.8 196.3 TDs Passing 30 16 TOTAL OFFENSE 5362 4961 Total Plays 935 1002 Average Per Play 5.7 4.9 Average Per Game 412.5 381.6 KICK RETURNS No. -Yards 46-894 62-1132 PUNT RETURNS No. -Yards 42-307 32-204 INT RETURNS No. -Yards 17-272 20-218 FUMBLES-LOST 32-17 37-19 PENALTIES-YARDS 124-1157 129-1074 PUNTS-AVG 67-41.0 78-40.0 TIME OF POSS. 26:07 33:57
RUSHINGAtt. Yds. TD Long Weaver 132 729 4 47 Thompson 91 438 3 38 Stutzmann 8 38 1 9 Fenderson 2 22 0 11 Grant 5 17 0 13 Liana 1 5 0 5 Harris 1 3 0 3 Sims 2 2 0 5 Garland 1 1 0 1 Gray 1 1 0 1 Skinner 1 1 0 1 Team 1 -1 0 0 Ho-Ching 1 -1 0 0 Harrison 8 -13 1 5 Robinson 63 -97 4 14
PASSINGAtt. Com. Int. Yds. TD Robinson 596 312 19 4119 30 Harrison 20 9 1 91 0 Ho-Ching 1 0 0 0 0
RECEIVINGNo. Yds. TD Long Carter 81 1282 9 74 Stutzmann 67 708 8 34 Harris 61 941 8 48 Lelie 40 561 2 43 Thompson 26 212 0 25 Weaver 19 151 0 29 Brooks 8 185 3 80 Gray 3 31 0 18 Sims 2 57 0 46 Butts 2 14 0 14 Colbert 2 7 0 8 de Laura 1 7 0 7 Noa 1 -1 0 0 Owen 1 -3 0 0 Robinson 1 -7 0 0
PUNTINGNo. Yds. Avg. Long Shrout 66 2738 41.5 60
TACKLESUT AT TT Ulbrich 49 129 178 Y. Warren 29 77 106 D. Miller 34 55 89 LeJay 26 58 84 Paul 21 56 77 Jackson 24 50 74 Kemfort 12 45 57 Tuioti 9 40 49 A. Smith 14 35 49 Correia 9 41 50 Tucker 22 24 46 Austin 14 19 33 Iosua 10 26 36 Sims 5 22 27 Avila 2 18 20 Elam 3 14 17 Ho-Ching 5 14 19 Fuga 4 20 24 Espiau 5 11 16 Garnier 6 9 15 Fenderson 4 9 13 Armstrong 4 15 19 Garner 0 9 9 Espinoza 4 6 10 C. Brown 4 4 8 Phillips 1 7 8 Campbell 2 5 7 Williams 4 4 8 Liana 1 3 4 Morgan 0 4 4 Shrout 1 2 3 Dietschy 0 3 3 Butts 3 3 6 Lelie 1 1 2 Harris 1 2 3 Ricardi 1 1 2 Grant 1 1 2
Overall Conference W L T PCT. W L T PCT. PF PA x-Hawaii 9 4 0 .692 5 2 0 .714 214 161 x-Fresno State 8 5 0 .615 5 2 0 .714 226 141 x-Texas Christ 8 4 0 .667 5 2 0 .714 245 123 Rice 5 6 0 .455 4 3 0 .571 198 161 Southern Meth 4 6 0 .400 3 3 0 .500 107 113 Texas-El Paso 5 7 0 .417 3 4 0 .429 183 235 San Jose State 3 7 0 .300 1 5 0 .167 120 268 Tulsa 2 9 0 .182 1 6 0 .143 129 220
BOWL RESULTSHawaii 23, Oregon State 17 in Oahu Bowl
TCU 28, East Carolina 14 in the Mobile Bowl
Utah 17, Fresno State 16 in the Las Vegas Bowl
Ka Leo O Hawaii