GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLTIN.COM
Hawaii's Inoke Funaki tried to elude a trio of Utah State defenders during last night's game.
Happy return for Rivers
WR comes back from back injury to catch seven passes
Jason Rivers didn't wait very long to announce his return to the Hawaii offense.
After sitting out the previous week with a bad back, Rivers opened the night with a reception on UH's first play from scrimmage and went on to snag seven passes for a game-high 130 yards in UH's 52-37 win over Utah State last night at Aloha Stadium.
Along the way, he moved into second place in school history in receiving yards.
"It was a relief to get back out there with the guys, get the chemistry working," Rivers said.
The senior had been bothered by a strained muscle in his back in recent weeks. He sat out the second half against Charleston Southern two weeks earlier and stayed on the sideline for the entire game at Idaho.
Quarterback Colt Brennan got Rivers back into the flow right away last night, finding him for a 9-yard completion on Hawaii's first play from scrimmage. The duo connected twice more on the drive that ended with Kealoha Pilares' 1-yard TD dive.
Rivers broke the century mark for the third time this season on his final reception of the game, a 72-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter.
He entered the game needing 72 to catch Chad Owens for second in receiving yards, and became only the third Hawaii receiver to surpass 3,000 career yards.
"My form was all ugly, but I just wanted to score," Rivers said. "Two-week drought, man, I just wanted to get in the end zone."
He finished the game with 3,089 yards to trail Ashley Lelie's 3,341 with at least six games left in the season.
Davone Bess also moved up UH's career charts with a 22-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. The TD gave him 35 for his career and sole possession of second place on UH's all-time list. He entered the game tied with Heikoti Fakava and needs three more to catch co-leaders Owens and Michael Carter.
posted a career-high 20 tackles for UH (three off Eddie Klaneski
's school record), but he wasn't particularly pleased after the game.
"Every night we've got to shut guys down," said Elimimian, after the Warriors yielded 370 yards. "That was too much. ... I think guys were kind of gambling. There were a lot of missed tackles out there. We didn't play the type of game we're able to play."
His fellow linebacker, Adam Leonard, was in on 12 tackles.
UH submitted Elimimian's name for WAC Defensive Player of the Week.
He won the award after the Charleston Southern game two weeks ago.
Quarterback Tyler Graunke and kick returner Malcolm Lane were nominated for the offensive and special teams player awards.
wasn't trying to avenge Colt Brennan
, who was knocked out of the game for good in the third quarter.
"That's just what the coaches called, and we went out and executed," Patek said. "Knowing that (Utah State quarterback Leon Jackson III) would boot out, and come high. That's not the way I play (to hurt someone), but that's the way the cookie crumbled," Patek said.
Aggies' guiding light
Utah State's offense is ranked 117th out of 119 Division I teams, but the Aggies moved the ball effectively all night against Hawaii.
Senior quarterback Leon Jackson III was a vital part of the mix. He went 14-for-21 for 161 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 55 more yards on 17 carries.
But the way Jackson got the offense to flow and fool the Hawaii defense was perhaps even more important than the yards he piled up.
"Leon did a good job," said Aggies coach Brent Guy about Jackson, who went over the 3,000-yard career passing mark earlier this season. "He only made a couple of bad throws, and he also ran tough. He was able to pull it down and run for some first downs that were very important for us."
Jackson's head-and-shoulder fake allowed receiver Kevin Robinson to get open for a 77-yard touchdown to pull the Aggies closer at 45-27 in the third quarter.
"(Hawaii's) cornerback (Gerard Lewis) was undercutting Kevin on an earlier route, but I overthrew him," Jackson said. "So basically, we took advantage of him cheating."
Jackson also punted four times for a 43.2-yard average.
The Aggies rushed and passed for a combined 370 yards, which is 131 more than their five-game average of 239 going into last night.