FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Georgia Tech running back P.J. Daniels led all rushers with 54 yards on 12 carries for the East yesterday.
Season ends with defense
The East wins the lowest-scoring Hula Bowl since 1962
Two football truisms came into play yesterday at Aloha Stadium, helping the East to a 10-7 victory over the West in the 60th Hula Bowl.
No. 1: Defense tends to dominate when two collections of players who don't know each other are put together and told to play a game in one week.
No. 2: Domination of the line of scrimmage leads to good things.
"When you're given this amount of time to practice, defense usually dominates," said Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, the East coach. "And we had lots of speed and quickness on defense, especially the line."
Toss in some bad passing, and this was low-scoring even for an all-star game; it was the fewest points scored in a Hula Bowl since the East and West tied 7-all in 1962.
A gathering of 7,065 (13,683 tickets distributed) saw the East get just enough offense. Hawaii Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall of UCF came back for an encore performance with five catches for 101 yards and the lone touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Brett Elliott at 11:53 of the second quarter. Notre Dame's D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked the extra point to complete the scoring.
Marshall was voted the East MVP by media covering the game, but the team's coaches decided to give it to defensive end Brent Hawkins.
Hawkins' sack and forced fumble recovered by Michigan State's Domata Peko stopped a West drive at the East 33 in the fourth quarter.
"I was kind of shocked to hear I got it," Hawkins said. "It could've gone either way, to (Florida defensive end) Jeremy Mincey."
Or maybe to Iowa State safety Steve Paris, whose interception set up Marshall's touchdown. Paris also knocked down the West's last desperation pass.
Scot Dapp of Moravian College, who designed the East defense that limited the West to 136 total yards, said Hawkins deserved it, even though it was a team effort.
"The defensive ends did a great job all week of coming off hard, but under control. I think that was the key, they were getting great jumps off the line of scrimmage but staying under composure," Dapp said. "The only plays that really hurt us today were broken plays. The guys up front, they just kept pushing and pushing. You've got to give the secondary a lot of credit, too."
Said Hawkins: "We played fast, real fast. Energetic. Real live and emotional in practice and that transferred to the game. We automatically clicked together and that helped."
Offensive highlights were few for both teams. The West scored first on Missouri quarterback Brad Smith's 16-yard run, but the East closed in with Fitzpatrick's 36-yard field goal and then took the lead with Marshall's TD to cap a five-play, 76-yard drive.
Then both offenses stalled and eventually shut down.
"We had two turnovers that were key, and fourth-down stops," said West linebacker Kila Kamakawiwo'ole of Hawaii. "I thought we did a pretty good job as a defense."
West coach Tyrone Willingham of Washington said his offense was just a little bit out of sync.
"We thought it'd be a little more open than what it turned out to be. We had some opportunities to do some things, but they came up and played some really good defense," Willingham said. "We didn't do the little things right, and I didn't put the guys in position enough. You've got to find something, somehow to help them get that little edge that they need to get it done."
Another East defensive end, David Tollefson of Northwest Missouri State, tied with East linebacker Corey Mays of Notre Dame for game high with six tackles each.
"It was like we were playing together for a whole season. We had a whole bunch of fun out here and we bonded as a team," Paris said. "We really stopped the quarterbacks. They had some good, mobile quarterbacks, and we had to keep a good eye on them."
Occidental safety Derek Turbin, a Punahou graduate, was a late addition to the East squad.
"Our coverages were simple," he said. "What made it great for us was our defensive line."
Peko, who was recruited by Hawaii, got to finish his college career here anyway, with 17 friends and family members in the stands.
"Representing the Polys on the East side," he said. "They couldn't run the rock. We had it down, a strong front four."
Smith took the MVP award for the West, and East punter Ryan Hoffman was named the Mosi Tatupu special teams player of the game.
East 10, West 7
West--Smith 16 run (Bazaldua kick), 11:32.
East--FG Fitzpatrick 36, 3:47.
East--Marshall 10 pass from Elliott (Fitzpatrick kick), 11:53.
RUSHING--East, Daniels 12-54, Ebell 6-23, Pope 3-16, Willis 5-11, Bagwell 3-9, Betts 1-4, team 1-(minus-1), Elliott 1-(minus-5). West, Ganther 8-37, Nealy 6-20, Cobbs 6-19, Mann 3-12, Mitchell 4-10, Smith 8-(minus-4), George 1-(minus-11).
PASSING--East, Betts 7-15-1-106, Elliott 4-8-1-53, Pope 0-1-0-0. West, Smith 4-12-0-58, Nealy 1-9-1-(minus-5).
RECEIVING--East, Marshall 5-101, Pope 2-21, Bilbo 2-18, Avery 1-15, Bagwell 1-4. West, Brown 2-40, Cobbs 1-13, Estandia 1-5, Mann 1-(minus-5).