GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nevada receiver Jack Darlington couldn't quite reel in a pass from Travis Moore as Hawaii cornerback Kenny Patton defended on the play.
Errors, missed chances frustrate Pack
Long after its charter flight returns to Reno, Nevada will agonize over what might have been last night in a 41-34 loss to Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.
After No. 2 quarterback Travis Moore engineered a comeback from a 41-21 deficit with two touchdown passes to Anthony Pudewell, Wolf Pack linebacker Jason DeMars gave his team an opportunity to win with 1:14 left when he forced UH quarterback Colt Brennan to fumble and teammate Charles Wilson recovered at the Warriors' 3.
But four plays later, the Wolf Pack weren't any closer on the scoreboard. Their high of a possible comeback victory became a major low when Moore's pass to Mike McCoy -- that appeared it had a chance of hitting the target -- was broken up by a jumping Leonard Peters of UH at the back of the end zone.
"At the line of scrimmage, we audibled to run it away from where Peters lined up," Moore said. "I held it as long as I could to give (McCoy) a chance. I got hit when I threw it and was on the ground and never saw what happened."
Nevada coach Chris Ault wished he hadn't seen any of the Wolf Pack's mistakes that occurred throughout the night and put his team in a hole. One of those errors was Zacary Whited's 17-yard punt that, instead of pinning the Warriors deep in their own end, resulted in Hawaii's Kenny Patton running it back past Nevada's original line of scrimmage, leading to a UH field goal.
"That's a shank and I'm very disappointed about that," Ault said. "And later, we missed an extra point (after Nevada scored to make it 41-34), and that would have been the difference between a win and a tie if we had scored again. The kicking game is very important in a close game like this."
The Wolf Pack's other big miscues were two fumbles -- one in each half -- including one that led to a Hawaii score and another that gave the Warriors choice field position and an eventual touchdown.
"I never anticipated that our backs would fumble like they did," Ault said. "Tonight, I was very disappointed in our tackling and with the play of our offensive backs. The way I look at it, those fumbles gave them 14 points."
Nevada also made its share of big plays. With Hawaii up 34-21, J.J. Milan forced the Warriors' Nate Ilaoa to fumble at the UH 1 and Jonathon Amaya recovered. On the next series, Joe Garcia blocked Dan Kelly's 24-yard field goal. Those two plays, along with DeMars' hit and Wilson's recovery late in the game, gave Nevada the push Ault was looking for.
"The good thing is we had a chance," Ault said. "But (the bad thing is) we didn't win it. As bad as we played, to have a chance of winning it at their 3-yard line and then not getting it done is pretty disappointing."
Individually, Nevada staring quarterback Jeff Rowe had a solid game, going 20-for-26 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He pulled a hamstring in the first quarter and toughed it out until he was replaced by Moore early in the fourth.
Receiver Jack Darlington made some tough grabs on tight man-to-man coverage and finished with eight receptions for 135 yards and a TD. Linebacker Ezra Butler made eight tackles to lead the defense.
"We're just down," Darlington said. "That's what you play for, a shot to win at the end. When you don't come through, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth."