Spencer shows his stuff
RENO, Nev. » Forget about Nevada's annual grudge match against UNLV. Caleb Spencer's big game of the season was yesterday against Hawaii.
"It's kind of my rival game each year," Spencer said after catching two touchdown passes to help the Wolf Pack beat the Warriors 38-28.
One of his TDs was an acrobatic one-handed grab that dropped the collective jaws of the 11,723 fans at Mackay Stadium.
"That was the best catch I've ever seen," said Nevada coach Chris Ault, who has been around football for 50 years.
"He's an athlete, isn't he? He's someone you want on your side," Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe said.
Hawaii didn't want Spencer enough two years ago to offer him a scholarship, asking the Kamehameha graduate to walk on.
Spencer admits that fuels him.
"I look forward to (playing Hawaii) a lot," said Spencer, who finished with five catches for 68 yards.
Spencer tried to downplay the 14-yard TD in which he also had to change direction at the last moment.
"I made an all-right catch, I guess," he said.
He was also pleased to play a good game because 40 family members, many from Hawaii, were at the game.
"Thanks to my teammates who gave me their extra tickets," he said.
QB shuffle: Hawaii coach June Jones was asked about an unorthodox move of substituting backup quarterback Tyler Graunke for starter Colt Brennan right after Brennan completed a pass to Ross Dickerson that went for 87 yards -- the fourth-longest gain on a pass play in school history.
Graunke was in for just two plays (and two more later), before Brennan re-entered and threw a 4-yard TD pass to Dickerson that gave UH a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Jones, who had planned to put Graunke into the Fresno State game but did not -- said he wants his No. 2 quarterback to get experience in games.
"I said going into the game we were going to play him," Jones said. "We're going to do it again (in UH's upcoming games)."
I know you: Nevada cornerback Joe Garcia's interception of Brennan in the fourth quarter was one of the game's biggest plays, as it set up the Wolf Pack's final score.
It was the second time Garcia intercepted a Brennan pass; the first was in a junior college game last year.
This time, Garcia said a pass rush that sacked Brennan five times contributed to the pick.
"I think we got some good pressure on him," Garcia said. "We were in man coverage and I had perfect position, so I went up and got it."
Garcia was hoping to make a play after being burned by the 87-yard pass play from Brennan to Dickerson in the first half.
"I needed to make up for that," he said.
Hurt list: The Warriors suffered no injuries expected to cut into playing time next week, but several UH players were banged up.
Freshman linebacker Adam Leonard (right shoulder stinger), junior defensive lineman Ikaika Alama-Francis (bruised lower back), sophomore defensive back Ryan Keomaka (sprained right ankle) and sophomore defensive tackle Mike Lafaele (bruised right knee) all left the game but returned.
Leonard was in on three tackles in his first significant action other than special teams.
Short yardage: Six different players contributed to the five sacks of Brennan. (Nevada sacked Tim Chang six times in 2001.) "They took good angles to get to me," Brennan said. "And it was just us not getting the job done." ... The weather was moderate by Reno in November standards, with a kickoff temperature of 52 degrees and wind of 3-5 mph.