San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery had a great all-around game against Hawaii yesterday. Besides the two touchdowns he scored (one on an interception and one on a punt return), Lowery was in on a career-high 13 tackles, including this solo stop of Warriors receiver Ryan Grice-Mullins.
Lowery led tough SJSU secondary
SAN JOSE, Calif. » San Jose State was in trouble last night. The Spartans trailed Hawaii by two touchdowns late in the first half. Their offense was sputtering, managing only 106 yards.
Enter Dwight Lowery. San Jose State's All-America cornerback settled back deep in Spartan territory to receive a punt from Tim Grasso. Lowery fielded the ball at the 16, started up the middle, cut to the left sideline, turned the corner and raced to the end zone. The 84-yard return was Lowery's first score in two seasons for the Spartans. More importantly, it was the spark they needed to keep this Western Athletic Conference game close.
"Dwight single-handedly brought us back into the game," Spartans quarterback Adam Tafralis said. "I wasn't doing anything."
Hawaii eventually pulled out a 42-35 victory in overtime. But the Warriors had to work for it, coming back from 35-21 down in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime. San Jose rode Lowery and the rest of its secondary to a big second half to put a scare into the nation's 16th-ranked team.
On the punt return, Lowery said he just trusted his corners to block the Hawaii gunners.
"Just like in practice, we try to make their punt team get to the middle of the field," Lowery said. "That's exactly what happened."
Lowery wasn't done. The Warriors took the ball to start the second half and on the first play, Lowery stepped up and picked off Colt Brennan, returning the ball 24 yards down the right sideline for the game-tying touchdown.
"If they score on that drive, it's 21-7," Lowery said. "That really changed the momentum."
Said Spartans coach Dick Tomey, "His two returns got us back in the game when we weren't doing much offensively."
The San Jose State offense was appreciative.
"He's a great player," wide receiver Kevin Jurovich said. "I see it every day in practice. Him and Christopher Owens -- those are two of the best cornerbacks I see."
Lowery didn't just make the flashy plays. He also finished the night with a career-high 13 tackles.
The Spartans intercepted Brennan four times, second-highest for a game in his career. Reserve safety Andrew Ryan had two and Owens added one.
Lowery even just missed one in the first half, having the ball go right through his hands into the arms of Ryan Grice-Mullins for Hawaii's second touchdown.
Ryan came up big in the nickel and dime packages San Jose used to counter the Warriors offense.
"The whole practice week we had repped my first interception," Ryan said. "I knew that the backside post was coming. Colt threw the ball right there."
His second pick killed a Hawaii drive after Lowery had tied the score. The Warriors had a first and 10 at the Spartans 24 and Brennan was looking for Jason Rivers near the goal line. Ryan stepped in to pick the ball.
"When the (first-teamers) are out there at practice, he's the type of guy who will be 20 yards back doing his footwork and working on his reads," Lowery said of Ryan. "I think his hard work goes together with what you saw tonight."
Ryan was proud of the secondary's work against the erstwhile Heisman Trophy candidate.
"I think our secondary can go out there and go against any quarterback and receivers in the nation," he said.
Especially with Lowery leading them.