GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii running back Nate Ilaoa looked for yardage against San Jose State defenders Rakine Toomes and Christopher Owens.
Ilaoa bringing it again
After a week of rest, Nate Ilaoa looked good as new in his return to action last night.
The senior was held out of the previous week's win over Louisiana Tech to rest a sprained ankle, and racked up 166 all-purpose yards to help lead the Warriors to a 54-17 win over San Jose State at Aloha Stadium.
He posted his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season and caught six passes for 66 yards and scored two touchdowns.
"It feels great," Ilaoa said. "It allowed me to be out there with my teammates doing the thing I love the most, so it's just great overall."
While Reagan Mauia performed admirably as a blocker and power runner against Louisiana Tech, Ilaoa's elusiveness gave the Warrior offense added punch as Hawaii pulled away from the Spartans in the second half.
"Nate has a lot of speed and (the) lateral movement for his size is unbelievable," UH quarterback Colt Brennan said. "He creates an unbelievable threat. And I think Reagan complements him well by being the power and that extra blocker. I love watching our running backs. Not only do they do a great job blocking for us, they make plays."
Ilaoa was back in the starting backfield last night and announced his return by taking a shovel pass 26 yards up the left side on the Warrior offense's first play of the game. On the play, Ilaoa broke the career receiving yardage record by a running back of 895, set by Gary Allen (1978-1981). Ilaoa entered the game with 870 receiving yards.
"I was trying to test out my foot to see where it was and it was great," Ilaoa said.
With Hawaii leading 20-10 at the break, Ilaoa carried the ball five times for 53 yards on the Warriors' first possession and scored on a 4-yard run. He followed the block of guard Hercules Satele and stepped out of the grasp of two would-be tacklers to get to the corner and give Hawaii a 27-10 lead.
After SJSU closed to within 10 again, and with Hawaii on its own 15, Ilaoa sparked an 85-yard scoring drive by taking a pitch and scooting through a gap for 20 yards.
He capped the Warrior rout in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard score on a shovel pass from Brennan for his team-leading 15th touchdown of the season. UH set a single-season record for scoring with Brennan's 8-yard scramble for a touchdown in the first half. It gave the Warriors 506 points for the year.
The old mark was 502 points set in 2002.
Stopped: San Jose State running back Yonus Davis needed 88 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, but only gained 29 against the UH defense last night.
As a team, the Spartans only mustered 82 yards on the ground.
"Their defense today, what they did to me was used a 3-4 with two outside linebackers containing me and the inside linebackers just waiting to see what I would do," Davis said. "I'm not disappointed in our O-line or in myself or in anybody. It just lets us know what we need to do from here on out."
Asked if UH hit harder than other teams, Davis said, "They're not hard hitters at all."
Not-so-mellow yellow: UH may now know how Michigan State was feeling a few years ago, as Hawaii was befuddled by flying yellow flags last night in the final Western Athletic Conference game of the season.
Hawaii was nailed for 12 penalties for 140 yards, while the Spartans were penalized three times for 35.
"We overcame a lot," UH head coach June Jones said. "I'm disappointed in the penalties and mental errors in the first half."
Hawaii penalties resuscitated several SJSU offensive drives, and helped hold UH's run-and-shoot in check.
Hawaii converted a fourth and 1 on its first drive of the game, but the play was called back due to an illegal formation flag and the Warriors settled for a Dan Kelly field goal.
Likewise, two 15-yard flags kept San Jose State moving in the second quarter on the way to pulling within 20-10. A UH pass interference gave the Spartans a boost on the way to a third-quarter touchdown that made it 10 again, 27-17.
UH was called for both offensive and defensive pass interference, holding, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct and false start for the night.