GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Hawaii's John West went head over heels as he scored a touchdown and Rice's Raymorris Barnes looked on in the fourth quarter last night.
Hawaii turns it up
Going into last night's Western Athletic Conference opener against Rice, the Hawaii defense had a grand total of four turnovers in three games.
With the prospect of their first three-game losing streak since midway through the 2000 season looming over the Warriors, the defense set the tone for their 41-21 win with five turnovers.
Senior safety David Gilmore came up with two takeaways in the first half, both leading to Hawaii touchdowns.
"You're always trying to get turnovers, but sometimes it just doesn't happen," Gilmore said. "Fortunately tonight we were able to get some."
Gilmore's ability to enforce against the run earned him extended playing time against Rice's option offense and he capitalized on his opportunity in the first quarter.
Gilmore pounced on a fumble when linebacker Chad Kalilimoku stripped Rice running back Ed Bailey of the ball, giving the Warriors possession at the Hawaii 42. Three plays later Tim Chang threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Gerald Welch.
On Rice's next possession, Gilmore caught a tipped pass for an interception that set up another Chang scoring pass to Welch.
"I just got lucky on that one," Gilmore said. "I should have had tighter coverage. But the guy tipped the ball and I was able to get it. We'll take them any way we can get them."
The Warriors got three more takeaways in the fourth quarter, a fumble recovery by Lui Fuga and interceptions by Abraham Elimimian and Kelvin Millhouse.
Role reversal: Rice's ground-hugging offense was supposed to be the one that chewed up the clock while grinding out first downs.
But late in the game, it was Hawaii that turned to ball control to put the game away.
The Warriors' final two touchdowns of the game came on drives of 12 plays and 11 plays, the first taking 5:26 off the clock and the second 3:20.
Old man gets in: Michael Miyashiro is not your average college football player. For one thing, he is 29 years old. For another, he is 5-6, 147 pounds, and that may be generous on both counts.
But last night the Pearl City alumnus saw significant action against Rice. With Hawaii's receiver corps somewhat depleted -- and with starting wideout Jeremiah Cockheran out with an ankle injury and Britton Komine banged up as well -- the old man got the call.
"It's been a while," said Miyashiro, who played at Mt. San Antonio College in 2000-01. "I mean, aside from, da kine, bush league. Touch tackle, semi-organized kine, in the park."
The undersized Miyashiro got treated to the real thing last night, with three catches for 25 yards, including one good for 14 yards.
Almost a tight end: Who says June Jones refuses to use a tight end in his offense? True freshman Jason Rivers lined up in a three-point stance next to the tackle on a third-and-inches play late in the second quarter. But a false-start penalty had UH back in the spread, and Rice's Brandon Boyd picked up a Chang fumble and sprinted 85 yards to close Hawaii's lead to 24-21.
Opportunity knocked: Rice linebacker Brandon Boyd and rover Terry Holley kept the game from becoming a blowout late in the first half by recovering fumbles for touchdowns.
Boyd, who had six tackles including two for loss, sprinted for an 85-yard TD after Tim Chang's fumble to make it 24-14.
"It was an option that they misplayed," Boyd said. "We do drills working on scooping up balls. This one bounced in my arms, and after that, going the rest of the way was easy."
Holley went after a bad punt snap by the Warriors and pounced on the loose ball in the crowded end zone to cut Hawaii's lead to 24-21.
"I saw the ball and knew to go get it," said Holley, who finished with five solo tackles. "It's mostly reaction. I took off and fought for it and luckily I got it."
Hurtin' for certain: This might have been an expensive victory for UH. The injury list is long and has some big names on it.
Starting defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga limped around the locker room with a sprained right knee he suffered in the second half. X-rays weren't in yet, but Sopoaga is listed as doubtful for next week's game at Tulsa.
Starting wide receiver Jeremiah Cockheran, who caught six passes for 122 yards to lead UH, left the game early with a sprained ankle. He is probable for Saturday.
Reserve linebacker Watson Ho'ohuli sprained his left knee on kickoff coverage in the first half. He was taken off the field in a wheelchair, and is out next week and probably longer.
Linebacker Keani Alapa has a bruised right quad muscle and is probable.
Special teams player/backup linebacker Tyrone Brown strained his left hamstring and is doubtful.
Starting left guard Samson Satele also left the field in the first half with a queasy stomach. He was replaced by Shayne Kajioka and Phil Kauffman, but returned for the second half.
Return of Welch: Three years ago, Welch arrived at UH with almost as much acclaim as his quarterback at Saint Louis School, Chang.
As a true freshman in 2000, Welch started for an injured Craig Stutzmann and caught eight passes for 75 yards.
Then he disappeared. He played sparingly in 2001, and sat out last year with a knee injury. With injuries and suspensions to starting slotbacks Nate Ilaoa and Chad Owens, Welch has had to step up -- along with freshman Ross Dickerson.
Last night, Welch caught six passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, while Dickerson added five receptions for 42 yards.