7 losses get lost in senior night
HOW did this happen? After all that had gone on earlier, how had it come down to this? San Diego State was in this thing, and threatening. Threatening to ruin it. Threatening to bring it all down.
But then there was a penalty, just in time. And then Ryan Keomaka separated the guy from the ball, maybe the play of the game. And it was over.
Relief. Euphoria. Everything. After all of it -- four years, in some cases five -- it was over. The game was. Everything was.
It was senior night. And after all of it, Hawaii had won.
They gathered in a circle. Kneeling. Praying. June Jones talking. To some of them, for the very last time.
And then they were dancing, chanting. They had won. They had won their last game.
Brandon Eaton was crying. The big linemen let it all out, last night, all the games, all the years. They all came pouring out. Samson Satele, just a junior, walked with his arm around him and squeezed, and gave him a warm grin.
"This is the most treasured thing in all of college athletics," Jones would say, and this time the hyperbole sounded just right.
Kila Kamakawiwo'ole walked across the field, headed for the locker room for the very last time, soaking it all in.
What a final year he's had.
The band played "Over the Rainbow." Loud. Because that's what you do on senior night. That was the song you played.
Lamar Broadway had a black eye, after his last game. He hugged. He crowed. He emerged from the locker room wearing shades, the way boxers do after fights.
After all of it, they had won; 5-7 never felt so good.
Maybe it was better that it ended 49-38, that the Aztecs were in it. That there was danger at the end.
The Aztecs clawed their way back from a belly-flop. A Triple Lindy, complete with Rodney Dangerfield eye rolls.
It wasn't just the normal, everyday turnovers deep in UH territory. Those things happen.
Or all the dropped passes. Or the missed tackles. Or going away from tight end Lance Louis, who spent a good deal of the first half rumbling through the secondary, roaming free.
No, I'm talking about pitching the ball on a handoff play, instead of running out the clock. Oops. UH -- at its red hottest -- gets another possession, with just seconds left in the first half.
Ryan Grice-Mullen (again), and Hawaii has the lead with :15 to go.
OK, not quite.
No, there would be Nate Ilaoa. And Reagan Mauia. And Lono Manners. And Grice-Mullen again.
And the Aztecs, somehow, inexplicably in it at the end.
"It's been fun," embattled SDSU coach Tom Craft would say, insisting it wasn't over yet.
He should hope not. Because no one should have to go out this way. That's too cruel.
It shouldn't have to end like this, for anybody.
He should have what Hawaii's seniors have. A game to remember forever. They hugged. Some cried. They had won their last game.
Everyone should win his last game.