DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan stayed at Hawaii this season for the chance to participate in things like the team's Senior Walk.
Seniors get perfect ending
To think, this moment might have been snuffed out back in January.
In the aftermath of a record-breaking performance in the Hawaii Bowl last Christmas Eve, Colt Brennan and Jason Rivers both contemplated jumping to the NFL -- Brennan's decision process stretching a bit longer than Rivers'.
63 – 6
Colt Brennan throws for 416 yards and six touchdowns to beat Northern Colorado in the season opener.
45 – 44
At Louisiana Tech
Gerard Lewis bats down a 2-point conversion pass to save Hawaii's come-from-behind win in overtime. Jason Rivers' 6-yard TD catch and Dan Kelly's extra-point kick give Hawaii the one-point lead.
49 – 14
At Nevada-las Vegas
Brennan, playing on a sprained ankle, rushes for three touchdowns and throws two TD passes.
66 – 10
Tyler Graunke completes 22 of 36 passes for 285 yards and three scores. Brennan sits out for precautionary reasons. Hawaii scores 45 straight points to turn an 11-point halftime lead into a rout.
48 – 20
Brennan throws for 369 yards and three touchdowns as Hawaii goes to 5-0 for the first time since 1981.
52 – 37
Graunke engineers four touchdown drives, including one rushing, as he fills in for Brennan, who was injured late in the first half.
42 – 35
At San Jose State
Hawaii rallies for two TDs in the fourth quarter, with Brennan hitting Jason Rivers for a 9-yard TD strike in OT for the win.
50 – 13
New Mexico State
Brennan throws for six touchdowns to become Hawaii's all-time career touchdown leader with 119, surpassing Tim Chang. Brennan completes 29 passes for 425 yards.
37 – 30
Hawaii goes to 9-0 for the first time since 1925 as Brennan ties two NCAA Division I career touchdown records before he's knocked out of the game with a concussion. He matches Brigham Young's Ty Detmer for most career TDs passes (121) and most career TDs responsible for (135).
28 – 26
Dan Kelly kicks a 45-yard field goal with 11 seconds left to win. Trailing 26-25 with 2:16 left to play, Graunke moves the Warriors 61 yards in 11 plays to set up Kelly's field goal.
39 – 27
Hawaii lands its first outright WAC title as Brennan throws for 495 yards and five TDs, and rushes for another score. He becomes college football's career passing touchdown leader with 126.
35 – 28
Hawaii rallies from a 21-point deficit in the first quarter to complete a stunning undefeated season. Brennan throws for five TDs and 442 yards, including the winning score to Ryan Grice-Mullins with 44 seconds left to play.
Both elected to return and -- in likely their final appearances at Aloha Stadium -- helped carry Hawaii to unprecedented heights last night.
On senior night, the prolific pass-catch combo breathed life into the Hawaii offense as the Warriors completed a perfect regular season with a heart-stopping 35-28 win over Washington, all but securing the Warriors a Bowl Championships Series berth.
"It's just a surreal feeling and it's hard to believe," Brennan said. "That's how this season has been, and now the focus goes to whoever we play in that big bowl game."
After a disastrous first quarter that saw the Warriors fall behind 21-0, Brennan and Rivers hooked up seven times in the second quarter for 73 yards and three touchdowns to keep Hawaii's BCS hopes alive.
They connected again on a 40-yard bomb with 8 minutes left in the game to tie the game at 28.
On the Warriors' drive to the winning score, Brennan hit Rivers three times in moving the Warriors deep into Washington territory.
And on what amounted to his last throw before the local fans, Brennan gave them one more reason to shake the Halawa grandstands by hitting Ryan Grice-Mullins for the 5-yard game-winning score.
Brennan bid aloha in style, completing 42 of 50 passes -- including 20 in a row at one stretch -- for 442 yards and five touchdowns, and perhaps earned himself a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy festivities next weekend.
"It really doesn't matter when you're 12-0," Brennan said. "If they invite me great, if not the joke's on them."
What set last night's performance beyond many of the other superlative moments this senior class provided over the years was the depths from which they pulled out the landmark win.
Brennan and the Hawaii offense got off to a disastrous start, as its four first-quarter drives ended with three fumbles -- two leading to Washington touchdowns -- and a punt as the Huskies stunned the sellout crowd by building a three-touchdown lead.
Not content to let the Warriors' BCS hopes go softly into the Halawa night, the Warriors ignited the crowd with a second quarter in which Brennan went 16-for-16 and connected with Rivers on three touchdowns to close the gap to 28-21 at halftime.
The last came with 21 seconds left and after a review showed Rivers came down with a 13-yard connection on the sideline on a play that was initially ruled an incomplete pass.
"The first thing that came to everyone's mind was we've been in this position before," Rivers said. "We've been down, we've been in harder positions ... Everybody had confidence and believed in each other.
"I'm blessed to be part of this team."
Rivers finished with 14 catches -- one short of the school record -- for 167 yards and a career-best four touchdowns.
"We just call plays and read it and whoever's open is open. It just so happened to be Jason Rivers was open a lot tonight," Brennan said.
Also celebrating on senior night were Jakeem Hawkins, C.J. Hawthorne, Keenan Jones, Brad Kalilimoku, Ryan Keomaka, Michael Lafaele, Micah Lau, Jason Laumoli, Gerard Lewis, Francis Maka, A.J. Martinez, Myron Newberry, Karl Noa, Timo Paepule, Jake Patek, Lorgan Pau, Amani Purcell, Nathaniel Russell, Rustin Saole, Hercules Satele, Larry Sauafea and Siave Seti.