JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tyler Graunke scrambled for yardage during the second half of the Warriors' 63-6 rout of Northern Colorado last night.
Washington picks up team with punt return for score
While Tyler Graunke and the second-team offense struggled to score points in the second half, the Warriors special teams unit came to the rescue.
Mike Washington returned the first punt of the half 80 yards for a touchdown. The junior took advantage of a 50-yard punt from Northern Colorado's Rafael Mendoza to set up a lane, power through various arm tackles and scamper down the left sideline for the score.
Davone Bess was the punt returner in the first half, but didn't get a chance to run one back. Washington made the most of his first opportunity.
"That was awesome," Ryan Grice-Mullins said. "If you look at the game film, I was all the way down in the end zone congratulating him."
It was Hawaii's first punt return touchdown since Chad Owens returned one in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Malcolm Lane returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Owens also was responsible for the last time Hawaii returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown. He did it against BYU in the regular-season finale in 2001.
Hawaii also came up big defending kicks. Senior defensive back Keenan Jones blocked Northern Colorado's only extra-point attempt. The Bears fumbled on their lone field-goal attempt.
McKnight waits to judge
Offensive line coach Dennis McKnight
said he wanted to wait until he saw the game film before saying his starting unit played well.
Larry Sauafea, Keith AhSoon and Keoni Steinhoff made the first starts of their collegiate careers. Hawaii did not give up a sack and Colt Brennan was hardly touched in the backfield.
"For the first time out of the chute they did OK," McKnight said. "From an overall standpoint I thought they did good, but we'll see the game film first."
Sauafea played center with the second unit and struggled with a couple of bad snaps. Aaron Kia and Brysen Ginlack played the tackle positions. Laupepa Letuli and Lafu-Tuioti Mariner were the primary backup guards.
"A couple bad snaps slowed the tempo of the game," McKnight said. "But it was good to get these guys experience, because a lot of them hadn't played in a game before."
What a Rush
National radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh
was on the UH sideline.
"He said if he hadn't seen it himself he wouldn't have believed it," UH head coach June Jones said, referring to the Hawaii offense. "We'd talked three or four times and he told me he was coming. He's a real sports guy."
Welcome to the show
waited a year to join the Hawaii program, but wasted little time in making an impact.
The grayshirt freshman from Damien ignited UH's deluge by scoring the first time he touched the ball as a Warrior, taking a screen pass from Brennan and going untouched to the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown less than 3 minutes into the game.
"I was surprised. I give it all to the scout team," Pilares said. "I went through my progression, I just turned around and no one was there and it was the greatest feeling in the world."
David Farmer started alongside Brennan in the backfield, but Pilares and Leon Wright-Jackson saw significant action before the half, though neither had a rushing attempt. Pilares caught seven passes for 64 yards. Wright-Jackson had two catches for 32 yards, including a 26-yard burst.
Long wait between scores
With a 24-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Greg Salas
, third-team Hawaii quarterback Inoke Funaki
was part of a six-point score for the first time since he led Kahuku to the state championship in 2001.
"The biggest smile ever," he said in the locker room after the game. "Ear to ear."
Funaki signed with UH out of Kahuku in 2002, then went on a mission, then redshirted in 2005. Last night, he entered in the fourth quarter on a fourth and 4, and converted. He scrambled and hit Salas for a touchdown on the very next play.
Afterward, he said, "I'm content for the rest of my life."
Once a Mountaineer
Northern Colorado assistant Sean Dunaway
, in his second season as the Bears' defensive line coach, missed being a part of college football history by three years.
Dunaway, a four-year tight end for Appalachian State, played his final season in 2004. His old team, the Mountaineers, earned a huge victory over No. 5 Michigan yesterday, a game that some media outlets are tabbing as the biggest upset in college football history.
Well above average
With all but the memories of his traumatic experience in the past, Northern Colorado punter Mendoza had a big-time performance last night.
Mendoza punted seven times for 313 yards and a 44.7 average, a lot better than the senior's 39.4-yard career average.
One of the punts, a 50-yarder, got to its destination a little too soon and Hawaii's Mike Washington returned it 80 yards for a score.
Mendoza played for the first time since his attacker in a stabbing incident, former Bears backup Mitch Cozad, was acquitted of first-degree murder and convicted of second-degree assault.
Star-Bulletin writers Dave Reardon, Jason Kaneshiro, Nick Abramo, Billy Hull and Kalani Simpson contributed to this report.