DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Nate Ilaoa scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter last night.
Ilaoa helps UH seal win
with huge carries late
Nate Ilaoa carried the ball just two times last night, but he certainly made those carries count.
Ilaoa's runs on Hawaii's decisive 97-yard scoring drive proved to be the difference in Hawaii's 41-40 victory over San Diego State at Aloha Stadium.
Both plays were counter runs with Ilaoa coming across the formation to take the handoff from quarterback Tim Chang. He found open field on his first carry, scooting 42 yards to move the ball to the SDSU 22.
"I don't think we ran that play the last couple games," Ilaoa said. "I didn't know if they were keying on it or not and it just popped open."
Four plays later, the Warriors ran the same play from the SDSU 2, but this time the Aztecs had a defender waiting for Ilaoa. But the redshirt freshman bulled his way into the end zone for the winning score with 4:45 left in the game.
"They had a guy in the hole so you have to dictate whether to tuck it under or bounce it outside, so I just tried to get under his pads," Ilaoa said.
Ilaoa's score would not have been possible without a clutch catch by fellow inside receiver Britton Komine.
Komine made a diving grab at the 2 on third-and-13 to keep the drive alive.
"It was huge," Komine said of the win. "We won it for the seniors. Send the seniors out with a bang. That's what its all about."
Stop the bleeding: San Diego State's 23 points without Hawaii scoring in the second and third quarters was the longest spree by a UH opponent since Boise State scored 24 unanswered points against Hawaii on Oct. 5.
The Broncos won that game 58-31.
Yoshida honored: Former UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida, whose employment with the university ends at the completion of the calendar year, was honored at halftime.
Yoshida said he will likely continue in a consulting role with the university system, assisting Hawaii-Hilo's athletic department.
Another senior: Student Brian Kajiyama was honored along with the seniors.
Kajiyama, is wheelchair-bound but attends practice on a regular basis and has been an inspiration to the team for several years.
Injury list: Running back Mike Bass tweaked the right knee he injured earlier this season, and special teams player Pat Harley sprained a wrist.
Team doctor Andy Nichols said both should be OK in time for the Dec. 25 Hawaii Bowl.
Slim margin: Hanging on by a point, Hawaii's defense needed to make a final stand in last night's 41-40 thriller. And knew it.
"We knew that the game was in our hands at that last drive," UH cornerback Kelvin Millhouse said, "that we had to buckle down and stop them for us to win the game."
San Diego State made it to Hawaii's 37-yard line, but stalled with a 3-yard run and two straight incomplete passes before calling timeout with 2:24 to go in the game.
In its last-gasp on fourth down, Hawaii end Travis LaBoy came up with his second sack of the game to give UH the ball and the game.
"I mean, I was so caught up in the moment, I didn't even know what we had called in (the huddle)," LaBoy said. "I just knew we needed a stop."
"The defense made unbelievable plays, I swear," Komine said. "They really hung in there."
Short yardage: SDSU lost all six of its nonconference games this season. The Aztecs also lost for a fourth straight time on the road to a nonconference opponent and saw its streak of defeats to non-Mountain West teams go to eight, dating back to a 41-13 debacle at Kansas in 1999 ... The Aztecs played a school-record eighth road game this season. Last night's loss capped a fourth consecutive losing season, the first time that has happened since 1957-60 ... SDSU now leads the series 15-8-2. It also marked the fifth straight time the Aztecs scored at least 35 points when facing the Warriors, all but last night ending in a SDSU win.