GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Northern Colorado's David Woods didn't see any daylight on this carry as the Warriors defense swarmed all over the Bears running back last night.
Bears get an education
It happened fast and it happened often and there wasn't much Northern Colorado could do about it.
Catch more updates on the UH Sports Extra blog
Hawaii scored almost at will in the first half last night at Aloha Stadium against a Bears team that was simply overmatched.
The outcome, the Warriors' 63-6 victory, was no surprise. Northern Colorado knew what it was getting into when it boarded the plane to fly across the Pacific.
But it wasn't a total loss.
The Bears gained valuable game experience in their season opener that will help down the road. Not every I-AA team gets to play a nationally ranked Division I team, and not everyone gets the chance to visit Hawaii.
"I told the players to focus on us, on what we do," second-year head coach Scott Downing said. "We couldn't focus on what Hawaii was doing because we can't control what Hawaii does. I was pleased with the effort. We can do some things better, but we continued to play until the final gun."
The highlights were few and far between for the Bears. They had two second-half interceptions -- by C.J. Stemo and Max Hewitt
against Warriors backup quarterback Tyler Graunke.
The Bears even scored a touchdown, something that looked highly doubtful in the first half. Hewitt's pick set up a 38-yard march capped by second-string quarterback Mike Vlahogeorge's 5-yard scoring run.
Unfortunately for Northern Colorado, Zak Bigelow's extra-point try was blocked by Hawaii's Keenan Jones. That play wasn't the only kicking miscue by the visitors. Earlier, Bigelow lined up for a 27-yard field-goal attempt, but holder Jason Caprioli couldn't control a high snap and after a loss of 20 yards, Hawaii took over.
The Bears also had three turnovers, including two lost fumbles. That stat could have been much worse since Northern Colorado fumbled five more times without losing it.
"This (loss) is not going to do anything but help us," junior cornerback Myles Hayes said. "I wish the outcome was a little different. We got to test our skills against two Fred Biletnikoff (Award) candidates (Davone Bess and Jason Rivers) and a Heisman Trophy candidate. He (Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan) is worth all the hype. He's real smart and his receivers are on the same page. Real precise. They run a smooth offense and it was a great experience to play them."
Hewitt, playing in his first collegiate game as a true freshman, thought Hawaii was "an amazing football team."
"When you play against one of the best teams in the nation, you can't make mistakes. We made mistakes on special teams (the Warriors scored on one kickoff return and one punt return) and we had two fumbles (both leading to touchdowns in the first quarter). That will kill ya. You can't have that."
The Hawaii experience is over for Northern Colorado. The Bears can breathe a little easier with Chadron State (Neb.) coming to Greeley, Colo., to face the Bears next Saturday.
"Sixty of the 90 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores," Downing said. "I'd like to play another game against Hawaii two years from now."