COURTESY OF HEATHER HORN
Tyler Graunke completed 33 of his 46 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
Tyler steps in
Graunke fills in for Colt Brennan with a strong performance, keeping the Warriors undefeated
RENO » A sleepless night wasn't going to hinder Hawaii quarterback Tyler Graunke.
"I got a couple hours of sleep, but it wouldn't have mattered even if I didn't get a wink," Graunke said. "I don't feel (tired) on game day."
Thrust into the starting lineup in place of an injured Colt Brennan, Graunke completed 33 of 46 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
More importantly, he led the team on a 61-yard drive in the final 2:16 to set up the game-winning field goal by Dan Kelly.
"Tyler has been practicing the 2-minute drill for almost four years and made it work," Hawaii coach June Jones said.
Hawaii trailed by one for most of the fourth quarter. Graunke twice had opportunities to give the Warriors back the lead, but fumbled once and missed Jason Rivers on a fourth-down pass on another drive.
A stop by the Hawaii defense gave him one last chance to be the hero, and it was all he needed.
"I just tried to get it out, be accurate, get first downs, and stop the clock," Graunke said. "I just had to get it done."
Brennan was officially a game-time decision, but Graunke knew he was going to play a significant role in last night's game.
Unlike his other start this season, against Charleston Southern, the Warriors had much more on the line.
The junior quarterback didn't skip a beat from the outset, completing 12 of his 13 first-quarter passes. His only miss came on a deflected ball at the line of scrimmage.
"Whenever I get called upon I just do what I can to help my team win," Graunke said. "I prepared myself all season for situations like this."
Hawaii opened the game by giving Nevada many different looks at quarterback. Graunke completed the first pass of the game before giving way to Brennan. Later on the opening drive, Inoke Funaki took two snaps as all three quarterbacks saw action in the opening minutes.
"(Nevada) had two weeks to practice," Jones said. "I just wanted to give them something else to think about for awhile."
After the opening drive, Brennan took one more snap before Graunke took over for the rest of the game.
The junior quarterback had hopes of being the leading quarterback of this year's team in the offseason until Brennan announced his decision to return for his senior season.
It might have been a quick disappointment, but Graunke has handled it well.
"It would have been nice if I was the starter all year, but it doesn't matter at all," Graunke said. "Right now I'm focused on this year and doing my job."
Hawaii has a week to prepare for a showdown for the WAC championship against Boise State. Brennan will be healthy enough to be the starter for that game, but the game wouldn't have the same significance if it wasn't for Graunke's play.
"I'm real proud of Tyler and what he did today," Brennan said. "Next week, I'll be 100 percent and won't have to worry about getting hit."