Sunday, November 25, 2001
[ UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL ]
Warriors fly higherAnother game brought another record-breaking offensive display from the Hawaii football team last night at Aloha Stadium. This one didn't go down to the last play, but it was another wild victory, 52-30 over Air Force.
Hawaii wideout Ashley Lelie
breaks 4 school records
By Dave Reardon
It was close to what June Jones had in mind when he brought the run-and-shoot offense to Manoa three years ago. After last night's 575-yard performance, UH has put up 104 points and posted 1,117 yards in its last two games.
Not enough mileage-plus to get a trip to a bowl game. But even with a bye week coming up, Hawaii has some serious momentum for its Dec. 8 season-ending encounter against rival Brigham Young. A win in that game, and the Warriors will have outdone -- at least record-wise -- what it accomplished in the 9-4 season of 1999, Jones' first.
The Warriors (8-3) scored on their first four possessions last night. The Falcons (5-6) rumbled for 545 yards on the ground with their option offense against a damaged UH defense that suffered more injuries as the game went along. But Air Force couldn't recover from two first-half turnovers and Hawaii's blistering passing combination of Nick Rolovich-to-Ashley Lelie.
Rolovich, who was named national player of the week by several publications last week with a 500-yard, school-record, seven-touchdown game against Miami (Ohio), completed 30 of 46 passes with no interceptions, five TDs and a personal career mark of 505 yards.
"I'm so proud of Nick Rolovich," Jones said. "He's done a great job, and I thought this game was really the first game that he saw everything from beginning to end."
A crowd of 38,387 saw Hawaii, which won for the seventh time in eight games, beat Air Force for the first time since 1993. It was also UH's first victory against one of the eight teams that broke away from the Western Athletic Conference after the 1998 season.
UH had its own breakaway eight last night ... No. 8, Lelie. The Football News third-team All-American caught nine passes for a school-record 285 yards. He grabbed three long TD passes in which he simply ran away from smaller and slower Air Force defenders.
"He was more than we could handle," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said. "But give that quarterback some credit and particularly the offensive line."
The third Rolovich-to-Lelie scoring connection, for 76 yards, made it 52-24 with 7 minutes and 40 seconds left.
But the real killing blow came with 10:05 left, as Chad Owens' 100-yard kickoff return down the left sideline gave Hawaii a 45-28 lead.
Air Force pounded on UH's defense, as quarterback Keith Boyea rushed 18 times for 132 yards and a touchdown and directed the option. Fullback Dan Shaffer carried 15 times for 101 yards and a score.
Hawaii led 24-7 after a first half in which the Warriors were nearly unstoppable on offense and made big plays on defense.
The Falcons beat on a Warrior defense which at various times was missing leaders Chris Brown at linebacker and Nate Jackson at safety because of injuries. Defensive end Travis Laboy, out the previous two games with an ankle sprain, and linebacker Keani Alapa, who had an injured shoulder, played sparingly but helped Hawaii slow down Air Force just a bit in the second half.
"Both of those guys made huge plays," defensive tackle Mike Iosua said. "Who knows where we would have been without them?"
Rolovich, normally a slow starter, completed 19 passes in 31 attempts for 306 yards, including touchdowns of 19 yards to Channon Harris and 53 to Lelie in the first half.
Lelie caught five passes for 138 yards before intermission, breaking the school single-season and career receiving yardage marks.
Both first-half TD passes were set up by Air Force turnovers.
After UH's Mike Bass capped a five-play, 80-yard drive to open the game with a 7-yard touchdown run, Air Force drove steadily downfield until Brown stripped Boyea of the ball during a 20-yard run and Abraham Elimimian recovered at the Hawaii 11. Nine plays later, Hawaii had a 14-0 lead after Harris' fifth scoring catch of the season.
Air Force closed it to 14-7 on Boyea's 3-yard diving run.
Justin Ayat made a 24-yard field goal on UH's next possession, making it 17-7.
Jackson forced a fumble by Shaffer recovered by Jacob Espiau at the Hawaii 47. Two plays later, Rolovich found Lelie open at the Air Force 12. Lelie danced around defensive back Paul Mayo and into the end zone, and UH led 24-7.
Anthony Butler's 6-yard TD run made it 24-14, as Air Force grinded for 75 yards on 11 plays at the outset of the second half, a drive that saw Jackson leave with a stinger.
The Falcons seemed to gain some momentum when Anthony Schlegel recovered a Bass fumble at Hawaii's 35, but UH's defense stiffened, and Brooks Walters missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.
Craig Stutzmann caught a 2-yard TD pass from Rolovich on Hawaii's next series, and the Warriors led 31-14.
The Falcons, who did not complete a pass until there was only 12:14 left in the game, scored on runs by Shaffer and Butler, as well as a 29-yard field goal by Walters. But it wasn't enough to offset the hottest passing team in the nation.
Rolovich was sacked only once and had lots of time to throw.
"He was making the backside read a lot," quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said. "Suffice to say a lot of quarterbacks don't get that kind of time. It takes a while to get through the progression."
Morrison was speaking of making the run-and-shoot reads. But it also could have been a commentary on Rolovich's growth as a quarterback. This was his seventh win in eight games as a starter after beginning the season on the sideline.
"He's getting much more confident and poised," Morrison said. "He's seeing things much better. He's evolving."
AIR FORCE 7 0 14 9 30 HAWAII 14 10 14 14 52
Haw-- Bass 7 run, (kick failed), 12:49.
Haw--Harris 19 pass from Rolovich, (Stutzmann from Rolovich), 6:51.
AF--Boyea 3 run, (Walters kick), 2:55.
Haw--FG Ayat 24, 12:51.
Haw--Lelie 53 pass from Rolovich, (Ayat kick), 9:44.
AF--Butler 6 run, (Walters kick), 10:33.
Haw--Stutzmann 2 pass from Rolovich, (Ayat kick), 5:49.
AF--Shaffer 1 run, (Walters kick), 4:44.
Haw--Lelie 47 pass from Rolovich, (Ayat kick), 3:19.
AF--FG Walters 29, 10:25.
Haw--Owens 100 kickoff return, (Ayat kick), 10:05.
Haw--Lelie 76 pass from Rolovich, (Ayat kick), 7:40.
AF--Butler 8 run (run failed), 0:29
AF Haw First downs 32 23 Rushes-yards 78-545 15-67 Passing 58 505 Comp-Att-Int 4-20-2 32-49-0 Return Yards 0 99 Punts-Avg. 4-35.3 1-40.0 Fumbles-Lost ' 2-2 2-1 Penalties-Yards 5-35 5-55 Time of Possession 37:56 22:04
Individual StatisticsRUSHING -- Air Force: Boyea 18-132, Shaffer 15-101, Harridge 8-85, Palmer 12-71, Butler 9-54, Burns 8-52, Stephens 2-18, Leslie 3-17, Clark 3-15. Hawaii: Bass 7-44, Mitchell 3-29, Ala 1-0, Team 1-(-1), Rolovich 3-(-5).
PASSING -- Air Force: Boyea 1-10-0-10, Harridge 3-10-2-48. Hawaii: Rolovich 30-46-0-505, Flint 2-3-0-0.
RECEIVING -- Air Force: Brown 2-19, Labasco 1-32, Butler 1-7. Hawaii: Lelie 9-285, Harris 8-86, Stutzmann 5-30, Colbert 3-51, Bass 3-30, Mitchell 1-17, Owens 1-16, Uso 1-6, Flint 1-(-16).
Defense bailed out Bass to keep Air Force behindAlthough it scored on almost every possession, Hawaii had a hard time shaking Air Force last night.
For nearly every touchdown the Warriors produced early in the game, the Falcons did the same.
But Air Force, trailing 24-14 in the third quarter, missed a golden opportunity to pull within striking range after Anthony Schlegel recovered Mike Bass' fumble at the UH 38. The Falcons were held without a first down, and Brooks Walters missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.
Craig Stutzmann scored on a 2-yard pass from Nick Rolovich on UH's next possession and the Warriors owned a much more comfortable 31-14 cushion.
Dave Reardon, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii hopes to bust up BYU's bowl prospectsAfter a bye, Hawaii completes its season Dec. 8 at home against Brigham Young in a game that will be televised by ESPN.
While the Warriors have a snowball's chance in Waikiki of being invited to the postseason, at least they can possibly alter the national scene in their final game.
UH hasn't played its rival since 1998, when BYU won 31-9 to improve its record against Hawaii to 18-7.
The Cougars (11-0) had a bye this week. They have qualified for the Liberty Bowl as Mountain West champions, but still have BCS hopes if they can win at Mississippi State on Saturday and Hawaii the following week.
Dave Reardon, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii