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Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Sunday, October 26, 2003


Warriors win without
all the fireworks


THAT was fun. That was football, two teams going at each other, every point counting, scoring by threes.

That was like a movie that's so bad it's good.

The mass march of the field-goal teams jogging onto the field again and again?

That was beautiful.

"It was kind of a first," David Gilmore, the Hawaii safety, would say.

But tension is good for the soul of a football game. Better than chicken soup.

Who else doesn't mind low passing percentages and defense and drama? Who else likes seeing Hawaii earn a victory the hard way, rather than by fireworks?

As Britton Komine was chugging for about a million yards, last night, Hawaii was both literally and figuratively Breaking Away.

And the final score, 31-15, didn't look too bad in the end. Not bad at all.

"That says a lot about our team," Chad Owens said, of winning a game and not a beauty contest.

And a lot about UTEP, too. A better opponent might have stolen one here, last night. But the Miners, as Bill Walsh once said about battling backup Steve DeBerg, "play(ed) just good enough to get you beat."

UTEP fought hard, but also fought itself, debating whether it really wanted to win this one. Following a brilliant fake punt (the best fake punt I've ever seen) with a fumble, concentrating more on misdirecting the UH defense than holding onto the ball. Backpedaling with stupid penalties. De-capitalizing on a key turnover with a slap-yourself-in-the-forehead-interception-in-the-end-zone of its own.

Hitting the uprights twice.

"Then," Miners coach Gary Nord said, "we drop a pass that hit the man in the chest."

UTEP taketh, UTEP giveth back.

And if you do that to a June Jones team, if you give extra chances to the run-and-shoot -- or as I like to call it, the Mike Brewster offense -- you are going to be in big trouble.

Big trouble.

It, as Gloria Estefan sang so eloquently about The Rhythm, is going to get you.

"I challenged (Timmy Chang) to throw the ball more accurately in the second half," Jones said. "He did."

Opponents just can't get away with giving UH extra possessions. Eventually, something will happen. They'll pay.

It's playing with fire. It's handling snakes.

Nord said, "You can't turn the ball over three times against a team like that."

UH will bite you, if you let it bounce back.

Hawaii's Michael Miyashiro ended up scoring, after UTEP gave back the ball again. And while I like and respect Mike, you have to keep in mind that he's the only college football player in America who wears the No. 30 because it represents the number of years he's been alive.

(Yes, yes. He's officially 29 until Jan. 22. Details.)

"Pretty close," he admitted, smiling the smile of the nontraditional student who'd scored a touchdown in the homecoming game. "Right around the corner."

But it was beautiful, and this game was beautiful too, in a strange kind of way.

"In the end we just held on," defensive tackle Lance Samuseva would say. "We just hung in there together, and we pulled it out."

And those games are the most fun. That's football. Those are the best games to watch.



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

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