Running backs drive ’Pack
B.J. Mitchell got the individual award as the WAC offensive player of the year, but it was the 1-2 punch of him and Robert Hubbard that had the Wolf Pack celebrating Christmas a few hours early.
Mitchell rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, while Hubbard added 126 yards and three scores as the Wolf Pack beat UCF in the Hawaii Bowl, 49-48 in overtime yesterday at Aloha Stadium.
"There's no other way to end (the season) man," Mitchell said. "To get to a bowl game and win the bowl game and have a great time in Hawaii, that's how you want it. It's picturesque."
Hubbard scored the first of the duo's five touchdowns midway through the first quarter, punching it in on a 4-yard run one play after a 59-yard scamper by Mitchell, the longest run by a Wolf Pack player this season. But the senior equaled the junior with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, one play after Hubbard's 49-yard run put the ball on the 1-yard line.
"He was scoring, I was scoring, he was stealing my touchdowns, I took his touchdowns, that's how you create a good team," Mitchell said. "It's great competition and I love (Hubbard), but hey, when I'm out there I want to make the big play. Dinner and dessert baby, dinner and dessert."
While the numbers for the brash-talking Mitchell were not a surprise, the softer-spoken Hubbard may have been the biggest difference. He more than doubled his rushing average for the season and the three touchdowns tied a career high.
"I just can't think of a better ending to this season," Hubbard said. "We've faced adversity all year and there was a lot of adversity in this game.
"To win it like that is just amazing."
It might have been amazing, but it wasn't surprising to the Wolf Pack, who won their final three games of the season by a total of 10 points.
"It was an emotional roller coaster, but we're used to it," Mitchell said.
Spencer dazzles, again: Caleb Spencer
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
UCF's Sha'reff Rashad, right, was too late to keep Nevada's Robert Hubbard from crashing into the end zone for a first-half touchdown.
had already done the homecoming thing before, but his second visit to Aloha Stadium as a member of the Wolf Pack ended much better than his first trip.
He hauled in 11 catches for 114 yards, but the numbers didn't mean anything as the Kamehameha graduate got the one Christmas present he was hoping for.
"I just wanted a win," Spencer said. "I didn't care how I did or how anyone else did. The win was all I wanted and I got it. It's the best Christmas present I could get."
The game was a stark contrast to Spencer's first appearance in Aloha Stadium, where the Wolf Pack got trounced by Hawaii 48-26 in 2004 during Spencer's sophomore season. He'll get one more chance to play in front of the home crowd next year when Nevada plays the Warriors.
"That'll be another great experience, but right now I'm just happy to have won this game," Spencer said. "Now I can go home and open some presents."
Marshall gracious: Several UCF players shouted angry words at Golden Knights kicker Matt Prater after he missed the extra point that would've sent the game to a second overtime. But senior receiver Brandon Marshall sat in stunned silence for a few moments.
Then several Nevada players approached him to congratulate him. Marshall, who caught 11 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns, returned their well-wishes.
"You stepped up and did what you had to do," he said to cornerback De'Angelo Wilson, a freshman he beat for his first TD. (Wilson intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.)
Let's see it again: The first use of instant replay as an officials' tool in the history of Aloha Stadium occurred yesterday at 7:54 of the first quarter.
The on-field officials ruled that UCF quarterback Steven Moffett fumbled, and Nevada recovered. But replay officials in the press box reviewed the play and overruled the turnover. The Golden Knights eventually scored on the drive on a 47-yard field goal by Prater.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said the league is ready to employ whatever form of replay use the NCAA mandates, which is expected to happen next season.
The WAC was one of only two Division I conferences that did not experiment with replay this season, although officials did track plays that they would possibly overrule during league games.