Saturday, October 27, 2001
[ UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL ]
They call it Sam Lightning.
Jacksons play saves the day
Hawaii surprises No. 18 Fresno State
By Paul Arnett
And when senior safety Nate Jackson heard the play come in from the sidelines with three minutes left in the season for Hawaii, there wasn't anyone more jacked-up in the house.
"I knew if I could come off the edge clean, I had a chance to make a big play," Jackson said minutes after Hawaii secured a 38-34 victory over No. 18 Fresno State last night at raucous Aloha Stadium. "He never saw me coming."
"He" was Fresno State quarterback David Carr, who for some reason dropped back in the pocket to pass on a second-and-10 play from the Fresno State 38. Bulldogs coach Pat Hill explained later that he didn't think Fresno State could run out the clock.
"So we called what we thought was a safe pass play," Hill said.
But it wasn't. You can thank Jackson for that. He blasted around the offensive line and through Carr, who fumbled it after the blind-side hit. Laanui Correa fell on the loose ball at the Bulldog 34 to set up the winning touchdown.
Jackson was jacked after the final gun sounded. But instead of joining in the celebration at midfield, he headed for the stands to find his son, who was handed to him over the guard rail.
"This is Nate Jr." Jackson said of the 2-year-old boy. "I want him to remember this moment with me. This is as sweet as it gets."
Earlier in the week, it didn't appear Jackson would play after suffering serious lacerations in a motorcycle accident just off campus. Secondary coach Rich Miano never figured Jackson to be on the field last night. As he put it, "There isn't anyone tougher in the nation in terms of playing through pain than Nate.
"When I saw the scar, it was unbelievable. We didn't want to play him too much. Actually, we didn't want to play him at all, but at the end, I told (UH defensive coordinator) Kevin Lempa we needed him in there. We've got to roll the dice. Somebody has to make a play here."
Lempa agreed. He wasn't sure if Fresno State would pass the ball in that situation. But Hawaii had done a great job against the run all night, limiting the Bulldogs to 68 yards rushing.
"I figured to send him because they couldn't afford to sit on it," Lempa said. "Maybe they were looking for the tight end. I don't know. But Nate came around that corner just like you draw it up.
"He was Sam Lightning because he captured some in a bottle. That was the biggest play of the game. Hell, it was the biggest play of the season. We probably don't get a chance to win it if Nate doesn't step up and make that play."
Jackson wasn't one to argue. He took his son with him and accepted congratulations everywhere he went en route to the locker room.
"Coach just called it and I just ran it," Jackson said. "That play was huge. This win is big. I knew I had a chance to make the play because he didn't see me coming around the edge. I just hit him as hard as I could and the ball came out. Laanui was right there to get it."
Jackson had two tackles and also recovered a fumble that killed a Fresno State drive.
"What you have to understand about this team is they are very close and they believe in themselves," Miano said. "The win over Fresno State two years ago was huge because it got the team believing in themselves. But this is huge, too. Give Nate credit. He came up with the play of the season."
Ka Leo O Hawaii