GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii running back Nate Ilaoa looked for room to run as Wisconsin's Kurt Ware, 34, and George Perry gave chase.
Ilaoa gets blocked out
The opportunities were limited for Warriors running back Nate Ilaoa, but for the second straight game, the senior responded with big plays early to help spark the Warriors offense.
Ilaoa carried on Hawaii's first three plays for 27 yards and finished with 68 yards on seven carries, but only got two attempts after the first quarter as Hawaii stuck with its passing game.
"As a player, you feel you want the ball when it's going good," Ilaoa said. "But I've been here long enough to know this is Coach (June) Jones' scheme and he knows what he's doing. I know what he does works and it's perfectly fine with me."
Ilaoa has struggled picking up certain blocking schemes, which is part of the reason he doesn't see as much playing time.
"I put Nate in to run the football," Jones said. "I see (Wisconsin) pointing him out, and they're blitzing every time he's in there. Once he learns to pass block, they won't be able to key on him."
Despite the lack of touches, Ilaoa finished with three carries of 15 yards or more, with two of them leading to touchdowns.
"He's a baller," linebacker Tanuvasa Moe said. "All I hear is he's overweight. He's one of our best players. We've got to use him. I'm not the offensive coordinator, but he inspires me."
With the game all but over, the Warriors turned to newly converted fullback Reagan Mauia, who carried the ball twice for 3 yards in the final 1:30 of the game. The 330-pound junior just started practicing at his new position this week.
"I'm all for it, but I know I've got to lose some weight," Mauia said. "I wasn't nervous, but I just got to get better. Coach told me to just go in and finish with the ball, but trying to find blocks and read the gaps and have it be second nature, it's tough."
Off the bench: Despite having a week off heading into last night's game, Hawaii defensive end Melila Purcell still had not recovered enough from a sprained left elbow to get back into the starting lineup.
Purcell, a 6-5 senior, was expected to have a breakout season. But injuries have dogged him for much of the campaign.
Last night he was replaced in the starting lineup by Renolds Fruean, who was credited with an assisted tackle.
Despite missing the start, Purcell did get in the game and he and Fruean split time.
"It's not even close to 100 percent," Purcell said of his elbow. "But just the feeling of sitting out, sitting out of the game, gnawed at me. I just couldn't sit out of the game while my team was playing. I just wanted to get in there and feel the same way as them."
Purcell also had an assisted tackle, and said he expects to play next week.
Injury report: UH receiver Davone Bess left the game in the second half with a bruised lower back. He suffered the injury after leaping to try to snag a high throw and landing hard on his back. Freshman Aaron Bain replaced him at Y slot and caught two passes for 35 yards and a late touchdown.
Cornerback Keao Monteilh made his fifth start of the year and was in on four tackles before a stinger in his right shoulder sent him to the sideline. He was replaced by Ryan Keomaka.
Both injured players are listed as day-to-day.
Future games: UH athletic director Herman Frazier said he spoke with Wisconsin coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez before the game and plan to schedule home-and-home football games to be played within the next four years.
Wisconsin now leads the series 4-1. The teams played once in Madison, with Wisconsin winning 28-7 in 1987.
Frazier also said they talked about scheduling men's basketball games.
Doing the hustle: Wisconsin's James Kamoku showed hustle and textbook positioning on special teams.
The sophomore from Kailua-Kona blocked on the Badgers' return teams and, as part of the kickoff squad, battled Hawaii's blockers in pursuit of the Warriors' return men.
He just missed making a leaping tackle on one UH return.
"Yeah, I was mad about that," said Kamoku, who has seven tackles this season. "I tried to reach out and tackle him, but I couldn't quite get him."
Another "almost" was even more frustrating.
"I thought it was a fumble," Kamoku said after recovering an apparent Hawaii turnover, but the officials had already ruled the play dead.
Kamoku got one of three game balls from Alvarez. One went to center Donovan Raiola, who starred for Kamehameha, and the other went to quarterback John Stocco.