TONY AVELAR / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Hawaii defensive players Adam Leonard, Myron Newberry and Desmond Thomas celebrated after yesterday’s comeback win.
UH's visit to San Jose turns into a character study, with the Warriors showing the strength to overcome adversity
SAN JOSE, Calif. » A rainbow appeared over Spartan Stadium in the first quarter last night, behind the thousands of Hawaii fans who converged here to watch UH try to beat San Jose State and maintain the shared dream of an undefeated season.
Things were going well for the Warriors at that point.
But it wasn't long before the Spartans' student section had good reason to chant "Overrated, Overrated" as UH fell behind by two touchdowns in the second half for the first time this season.
When it was over, though, ti leaves, conch shells and the ha'a prevailed, and the chants were "BCS, BCS" after No. 16 Hawaii's 42-35 overtime victory.
UH came back from a 35-21 deficit in the fourth quarter, with Colt Brennan accounting for two touchdowns (one pass, one run) in the final 4 minutes after passing for four interceptions earlier in the game.
"The elements played a factor a little bit," said Brennan, referring to a rain storm that helped slow the nation's highest point-producing team.
Linebackers Blaze Soares and Adam Leonard made the comeback possible, with Soares forcing a fumble by J.T. Callier and Leonard recovering it to set up Brennan's game-tying 2-yard TD run with 31 seconds left.
"It was a total team victory," said Brennan, who passed for 545 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. He also broke school records with 75 passes and 44 completions.
He spread the wealth, with TD passes to all four starting receivers.
Soares finally got to make a big play after missing the first four games with hamstring and shoulder injuries.
"I saw the fullback, he's looking directly at me," Soares said. "I knew he was coming my way, so I already knew. I went with all my power and all my might and I went crush him. I heard him when I hit him, I heard him -- he felt it. Nice square hit."
Hawaii slotback Davone Bess made a one-handed touchdown catch with just under 4 minutes left in regulation last night to pull UH within a touchdown as it rallied against San Jose State.
In overtime, Jason Rivers, who passed Ashley Lelie as UH's career receiving-yardage leader, grabbed a 9-yard scoring pass for the deciding points.
"This says a lot about our team," Rivers said. "We've been in this position with other teams and we came out on top and everyone believes we can."
A few minutes later, Myron Newberry made his second spectacular interception of the game, this one ending it.
"I had great position almost the entire game, but I gave up that one for six," said Newberry, who had his second two-interception game of the season. "I just wanted to redeem myself for my team. We just kept believing, believing."
Ryan Grice-Mullins, who caught 14 passes for 175 yards (both game highs) said the more experienced Warriors kept the younger ones from giving up.
"And the fans," he added. "It's amazing how they follow us. It was like UNLV again. We need them and they help us."
Tri-captain and left guard Hercules Satele said no one panicked.
"Purdue last year and LaTech this year. We've been in this situation at LaTech and we came through with it," Satele said. "We worked too hard in the summer to give up and that was our mentality the whole game."
One snap and clear, Satele said, repeating coach June Jones' philosophy of forgetting about past errors.
"As you can see, we had a few mistakes. But we trusted each other, and they (the fans) believed. Our defense helped us out real great and we just never quit," Satele said.
UH might not gain much ground in the BCS standings or the polls with a sloppy win on national TV, but at some point, character kicks into the equation.
"I'm of the belief that winning these types of games does more for you than winning a game 70-0," Jones said.
Hawaii matched the 7-0 start of its 1981 team, one led by current Spartans coach Dick Tomey.
Leonard led UH with 11 tackles and also intercepted a pass in the first quarter that led to the game's first score.
San Jose State -- with Dwight Lowery (punt and interception return) and Kevin Jurovich (two touchdown passes from Adam Tafralis) scoring four unanswered touchdowns -- took a 28-14 lead in the third quarter. But mistakes in the end, including Callier's fumble and 35 yards in penalties on a fourth-quarter possession gave the Warriors their seventh victory in a row over the Spartans and third against former Hawaii coach Tomey.
"The great thing about football is it feels like this," Tomey said afterward. "There's no almost. You did or you didn't. This wasn't about Colt Brennan or Hawaii, this was about us trying to stay in first place."
Hawaii has a bye next week before hosting New Mexico State on Oct. 27.