RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Nate Ilaoa tried to get past Utah State's Antonio Taylor during the second quarter of last night's game.
Running backs pitch in
For the fourth time this season, Hawaii went over 100 yards rushing, but yesterday was the first time it did so in a victory.
Senior Nate Ilaoa was one of four running backs who carried the ball, and led the way with 56 yards, including a 53-yard scamper midway through the first quarter that helped jump-start Hawaii's offense.
"I'm just the guy carrying the ball," Ilaoa said. "It's the linemen opening the holes and the receivers blocking downfield that make it happen."
Ilaoa seemingly had a chance to take the ball all the way for a score, but tripped over his own feet while trying to get past the last defender.
"It was all me," Ilaoa said of the stumble. "I probably could have made it. I was trying to set up that last block and just stumbled."
Mario Cox, Mikhail Kafentzis and David Farmer also got carries last night, with Farmer scoring on a 1-yard run midway through the second quarter for his first rushing touchdown of the year.
"I had a third and short earlier in the game that I didn't convert, so I made sure to punch it in," Farmer said. "I'm glad the coaches had the confidence to give me another shot."
With all four backs seeing significant playing time, getting into a rhythm can be tough. But each player knows he isn't going to get many carries in Hawaii's offense, making every run that much more important.
"Being more anxious takes care of the rhythm thing," Ilaoa said. "When our time comes each of us is ready, and when your number is called, it just makes it that much more special."
As a team, Hawaii finished with 115 yards on the ground, the third-highest total this season. The Warriors had 129 against Fresno State and 152 at Michigan State.
Kelly perfect: Freshman kicker Dan Kelly was perfect last night, making six PATs and two field goals, including a career-long 46-yarder just over 2 minutes into the game for Hawaii's first score.
"I had been practicing hard all week on my height, I'd been getting blocked way too much," Kelly said.
The kick came on fourth and 4 from the 29-yard line, and Kelly wasn't sure if he'd get a chance to kick or if they would go for the first down.
"I know the coaches have confidence in me, so I'm always ready, Kelly said. "Even if it's a 65-yarder, I'm ready."
Kelly's other field goal was a 31-yarder.
Bess keeps rolling: UH slotback Davone Bess had at least 100 yards receiving for the fifth straight game and the seventh time this season.
The freshman finished with five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He leads UH with 81 catches for 1,048 yards this season.
"I'm just trying to stay focused and keep a level head," he said. "I'm not letting that get to me. I'm on a mission just to continue to do what I'm doing."
Junior Ross Dickerson led the Warriors with six receptions for 112 yards last night, breaking the century mark for the third time this season.
Walker a runner: Aggies freshman backup quarterback Jerod Walker had 54 passing yards coming into the game and nearly tripled that total by completing 13 of 17 passes for 188 yards, with no interceptions and a touchdown.
Walker also broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter and finished with 88 yards to boost his season rushing total to 191. He played briefly at the start of the second quarter, but entered for good midway through the period after starter Leon Jackson went down with a shoulder injury when he fumbled the ball away on a jarring hit by Hawaii linebacker Kila Kamakawiwo'ole.
"Jerod came in and did a nice job," Utah State coach Brent Guy said. "He still did some freshman stuff, missed some signals and all that, but he can make some runs and he threw the ball pretty well. He is a very good option runner; that's what he did in high school."
Walker said he knew nobody was going to catch him during the latter part of his TD run because he didn't see anybody near him on the giant video screen in the North end zone.
Hurting: You wouldn't think much pain is felt in a 50-23 win, but Hawaii did report two notable injuries after last night's win.
Defensive end Melila Purcell, who has been dinged up off and on all season, sprained his left elbow and is listed day-to-day heading into Hawaii's bye week. He wore a sling after the game.
Cornerback Turmarian Moreland, who also has an unlucky past on the injury front, was hit again, this time with a sprained right knee. He is also day-to-day heading into the bye.
Semper Fi: Hawaii coach June Jones designated former Marines Alonzo Chopp and Ammon Tong as game captains for Military Night. Both walk-on sophomores also got their first playing time of the season. Chopp, a running back, and Tong, a nose tackle, both played a few downs in the fourth quarter.
Andre Taylor, who converted from receiver to cornerback last week, saw action at his new position.
Senior Jeff Rhode played the last two series at quarterback.
Freshman Aaron Bain's 32-yard touchdown catch was his first scoring reception as a college player.