DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Ryan Keomaka brought down Boise State's Austin Smith on a kickoff return last night. Boise State totaled 97 yards on six kickoffs.
Special teams turn in subpar performance
Could it happen again?
As Boise State lingered within striking distance throughout last night's game, the question of whether special teams would again be the difference between elation and disappointment for Hawaii hung around Aloha Stadium.
The Broncos blocked two extra points in the second quarter and those precious points looked to be pivotal in determining the Western Athletic Conference title.
Ultimately, timely play by the Warrior offense and defense in the second half more than made up for the missed PATs in Hawaii's 39-27 win before a jubliant sellout crowd at Aloha Stadium.
"It's satisfying. It wasn't a perfect game, but we were able to overcome a nonperfect game, which shows a lot of character about this team," said kicker Dan Kelly, who had those two PATs blocked and made three others.
It was the third straight meeting with Boise State that Hawaii struggled to execute on PATs.
Last night, the Broncos twice got a hand on Kelly's kicks in the second quarter, first by Kyle Wilson and the second by Orlando Scandrick, who had quite a career against UH in the kicking game.
The Warriors were able, though, to corral the Broncos after the blocks before they turned into 2-point runbacks for Boise State, unlike the previous two meetings.
This time, the Warriors were able to overcome the miscues and beat the Broncos for the first time since 1999, also the last time UH could call itself WAC champion.
Kelly certainly did his part throughout the season to put the Warriors in position for last night's celebration, connecting on clutch field goals against Louisiana Tech and last week against Nevada.
"Surreal, crazy," was how Kelly described the scene on the field after the final second ticked off. "It's just a well-deserved championship."
Rustin Saole, a mainstay on UH's special teams units the last couple of years, returned for last night's game after missing the previous two games with a torn MCL ligament in his knee, playing on the Warriors' kick return unit.
"I didn't care, I just wanted to play," the senior said. "Even if it hurt I was going to say it didn't hurt so I could be out there."
Time share at tackle
Junior Fale Laeli
was the announced starter at defensive tackle, but Keala Watson
took the field first.
Laeli, who had been battling sore ribs, quickly rotated in and split time with his junior counterpart throughout the game.
"We're Warriors," Laeli said. "This is biggest game of our lives. We're not going to miss it. Everyone is banged up."
Safety Jake Patek left the game early in the fourth quarter with an injury and was replaced by Erik Robinson, but should be ready to go next week, according to coach June Jones.
Childs breaks mark
Receiver Jeremy Childs
set the Boise State single-season record for receptions.
Childs made eight catches for 102 yards and now has 82 receptions on the year, six more than Mike Wilson's 76 set in 1992.
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann
was obviously overjoyed with the win -- and also that there were few if any negative incidents in the crowd of 49,651.
"This is unbelievable for our state and city," Hannemann said. "I've always said that our people can compete with the best and that's what they did tonight."
In addition to Scandrick, two Boise State players went down with injuries in the first half and didn't return -- starting left guard Tad Miller
and backup cornerback Rashaun Scott
. Both suffered knee injuries.
After the game, Petersen didn't have any information on the severity of the three injuries.
Bess' bits of history
became the first player in Hawaii history to post 1,000 receiving yards three different years when he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Colt Brennan
in the second quarter. When the slotback caught the Warriors' first touchdown pass of the second half with 13:20 left in the third quarter, he and Brennan tied an NCAA record for a quarterback-to-receiver scoring combination with 39.