The Warriors' Mike Lafaele raised his arms in jubilation after Hawaii's 45-44 OT win over host Louisiana Tech.
Rivers a favorite target of Colt
RUSTON, La. » Jason Rivers is 4-0 against Louisiana Tech.
The Hawaii fifth-year senior missed the game here two years ago that UH lost. He caught 14 passes for 176 yards and the game-winning overtime TD as the Warriors beat the Bulldogs here last night 45-44.
Rivers was also part of UH teams that beat LaTech in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Early on last night, he was one of the few bright spots for the listless Warriors, with eight catches for 129 yards at halftime and UH trailing 21-14.
"I always try to bring energy to my teammates -- they know me as energetic," Rivers said. "The beginning of the game? I don't know (what was wrong)."
Colt Brennan consistently found Rivers on short and medium slant routes.
Rivers had three different cornerbacks trying to cover him throughout the game.
"I don't know if it was scheme, or they were just trying different guys. But we give their team all the credit," Rivers said. "They ran, they're big, they played with heart and they're strong. We knew it would be this kind of battle. We weren't ready and we had to settle down."
At 6-feet-2 and 190 pounds, Rivers is the most physical UH receiver.
"He's our banger," said slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins, who also had a big game with nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. "He goes in their faces. He's the tank, on the ground banging. We (fellow slot Davone Bess and wideout C.J. Hawthorne), we're the fighters, we're in the air, dropping bombs."
Rivers moved past Walter Murray into fourth place on Hawaii's all-time receiving-yardage list with 2,879. He is tied with Justin Colbert for second in receptions with 212. Chad Owens is first with 239.
The right move
Conventional wisdom says that when you're the home team you play for the tie in overtime. But UH coach June Jones
said LaTech coach Derek Dooley
made the right decision in going for two points and the win -- and not just because UH's Gerard Lewis
batted down Zac Champion
's pass for Brian Jackson
, giving the Warriors the win.
"When you go 25 yards, their offense and our offense, we've got an advantage. So he made the right decision," Jones said. "Had he won it right there it would've meant so much for their team."
Dooley said close isn't good enough.
"I know everyone is going to say this is a moral victory, but I'm not buying it.," the first-year head coach said. "We had our chances and we didn't take advantage of them. Hawaii made the plays to win the game."
Tale of two halves
LaTech running back Patrick Jackson
rushed 14 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but the Warriors slowed him a bit after the break; Jackson finished with 98 yards on 23 carries.
"We made an adjustment at halftime, back to fundamentals," UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said. "They (the UH defenders) were exhausted and kept playing hard. And I love this offense. It's fun to play with this offense."
Solomon Elimimian led UH with 14 tackles, while fellow linebacker Adam Leonard added 12. Safety Jake Patek had 11 stops and end Karl Noa was in on 10. Six different Warriors were in on tackles-for loss, and six broke up one pass each.
Antonio Baker led the Bulldogs defense with 14 tackles, a forced fumble and recovery. Quin Harris broke up four Brennan passes.
Kelly comes back
's 49-yard field goal with 1:34 left in regulation was within the right upright by 2 feet and forced overtime. Then his extra point after Rivers' OT touchdown turned out to be the winning point.
He said he was calm before the clutch field goal after missing twice earlier, including a block.
"Nervous? Before the kick yes. But not during it. During it I didn't feel anything," Kelly said. "I've been blessed by God to be able to forget everything."
The quarterback and team captain gave him some positive reinforcement before the kick.
"When he missed those other two, he was hungry," Brennan said. "I went up to him before it and told him, 'You got it. No worries.'"
Haka hurts Warriors
Hawaii was warned before the game by WAC officials not to do the haka, but the Warriors did it anyway in front of the LaTech football team and was penalized 15 yards before the game even started for unsportsmanlike conduct. Hawaii had to kick off from its own 15-yard line.