SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Arizona State's Josh Barrett took down Hawaii running back Nate Ilaoa for one of his eight total tackles yesterday.
Sun Devils caught up in UH’s moment
The collapse came suddenly for Arizona State.
During the first half of yesterday's Hawaii Bowl, Arizona State had Hawaii where it wanted, but that was before things unraveled for the visitors from Tempe, Ariz.
Except for Alabama in the opener, no other team held the Warriors to fewer than seven points in the first 30 minutes this season. But the Sun Devils' 10-3 halftime lead -- however promising -- disintegrated in a flash; they finally felt what it was like to get burned by quarterback Colt Brennan and his cast of receivers, namely Jason Rivers and Ryan Grice-Mullins.
Arizona State junior safety Josh Barrett was an up-close witness to the Warriors' third-quarter barrage that turned the seven-point lead into a 24-10 deficit and an eventual 41-24 loss at Aloha Stadium.
The Sun Devils recovered in the fourth quarter and got within three points, but that third-quarter lapse proved fatal. And despite his hustle and hard-hitting play, Barrett was powerless to stop the onslaught.
"That third quarter was bad in so many different ways," said Barrett, who had a first-half interception and finished with eight tackles, despite missing much of the second half with a stomach virus.
"I couldn't keep anything down for a while and was puking all over the place," he said. "I had to get IVs. It was a bad deal. I wasn't feeling much better, but I came back in."
Whether it was muscling down UH power back Nate Ilaoa or chasing down Rivers to save a possible touchdown on a sideline catch-and-run or making his team's only interception, Barrett was all over the field in the losing effort.
"I don't remember much, because I'm kind of out of it right now," he said. "But I remember that interception. I should have gotten up the field (instead of stepping out of bounds) and gotten more yards."
Ryan Torain also played well for the Sun Devils. He was named the team's MVP for the game, but he fumbled twice in the early going, including one the Warriors recovered at the UH 11 in the first quarter.
Torain broke the bad habit the rest of the way, finishing with 160 yards rushing on 18 carries. His spectacular 64-yard, fourth-quarter run set up his own 12-yard TD jaunt to bring the Sun Devils back from the dead.
Torain finished the season with 1,229 yards rushing.
"Ryan's a good runner. The season he's had speaks for itself. He's never been one to fumble," ASU coach Dirk Koetter said.
Torain said the ball was slippery and hard to control due to the sweat caused by the hot afternoon sun.
"Those thousand yards, that was all my offensive line," he said.
Koetter, who was fired last month but stuck around for the bowl game, talked about his Sun Devils and the winning Warriors in his last official statement as the ASU coach.
"I've had a month to realize life is going to change," he said. "It was an awkward situation to coach in. But I'm proud of how the team played. They played like men. I wish the players all the best. It's Christmas. (Time to) rest. I'll be a coach again.
"Congratulations to the University of Hawaii. They deserved to win. Don't feel sorry for us. We'll be fine."