TONY AVELAR / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
UH linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Blaze Soares teamed to bring down San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis yesterday.
Yards after fumble recovery not an option for Leonard
SAN JOSE, Calif. » Adam Leonard wasn't about to get greedy.
When Blaze Soares' thunderous impact on San Jose State running back J.T. Callier forced a fumble with Hawaii trailing by seven with 3 minutes left, Leonard alertly dove on the ball at the Spartans' 45-yard line to set up the game-tying score of UH's 42-35 victory last night.
"I just saw the ball on the ground, and as a defense we talk about turnovers at a key time in the game," Leonard said. "Blaze made a great hit on the ball carrier."
Chancing a scoop-and-score attempt on the run wasn't an option in his mind.
"I was just thinking just get the possession, don't worry about a big (return) play, get it back to offense," said Leonard, who has scored two touchdowns this season on interception returns.
Leonard got his third pick last night, victimizing San Jose State's Adam Tafralis on the opening drive and returning the ball 28 yards to set up Kealoha Pilares' 6-yard score.
Leonard had a team-high 11 tackles, including two for loss for 6 yards.
He was in on two big stops in the fourth quarter that got the momentum rolling for the Warriors, stopping Jacob French for a 1-yard loss on second down at the Hawaii 34 and hurrying Tafralis into an incompletion on third down. Hawaii forced a punt and went on to score the first of two fourth-quarter TDs to tie the score.
Soares provided a huge boost with his big hit.
"Our team needed a big play out of me, Coach Mack (defensive coordinator Greg McMackin) told me that going on the field," said Soares, who rotated with Brad Kalilimoku at strongside linebacker. "It just so happened the fullback ran my way, the D-line did their job, and it was just me and him."
Soares re-injured the shoulder that, along with a hamstring injury, kept him out of the first four games.
"He sucked it up and played through it," coach June Jones said.
Soares said he'll be ready for the New Mexico State game after next week's bye.
"I'm not going to let that keep me out," he said. "I'll be there."
Rivers passes Lelie
caught 12 passes for 138 yards, passing Ashley Lelie as UH's career receiving yardage leader. Rivers, who has at least five games left, has 3,370 yards to Lelie's 3,341.
Davone Bess, who caught 12 balls for 140 yards and a touchdown, needs two more TDs to tie Michael Carter and Chad Owens for the UH career mark of 38.
Ryan Grice-Mullins tied the school record of 14 receptions in one game, also held by Bess (twice) and Owens. Grice-Mullins went for 175 yards and a score.
Rivers -- who caught record-breaking passes from Tim Chang and Colt Brennan over the years -- said his game-winning reception in overtime last night might be the biggest of his career.
"Because I'm a senior, it's a WAC game, and our season could've been done tonight," the fifth-year senior said.
Not a stat guy
San Jose State receiver Kevin Jurovich
wasn't happy with his game against Hawaii. His seven catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns couldn't console him for a bitter overtime loss.
"I don't really get too concerned with my individual stats," the junior said. "We didn't make plays down the stretch to win. That's what I'm angry about."
Jurovich and the rest of the offense didn't make a whole lot of plays in the first half when the Warriors took a 14-0 lead, either. But after Dwight Lowery returned a punt and an interception for touchdowns to tie the score, the Spartans got rolling.
"I'm not sure what it was," Jurovich said. "The second half it seemed we started clicking."
Jurovich's first touchdown came in the third quarter on a sweet catch at the goal line on a 16-yard pass from Tafralis that gave San Jose its first lead of the night, 21-14. Jurovich went into the air to get the ball and came down butt-first on the pylon. The play was reviewed to make sure the ball crossed the plane of the goal line before he fell out of bounds and was upheld.
The other came on a 68-yard bomb where Jurovich beat Myron Newberry and made the score 28-14 late in the third quarter.
Damin Esper contributed to this report.