SUGAR BOWL: GEORGIA VS. HAWAII
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii wide receiver Jason Rivers was hit by Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe last night.
Rivers shines in bowl once more
NEW ORLEANS » Jason Rivers may have helped his draft stock, but he'd rather have a Sugar Bowl victory.
"Any day," Rivers said, after leading Hawaii with 105 receiving yards on 10 catches, both game highs at the Superdome last night. "This hurts bad. We know we could've played better."
It's doubtful Rivers could have individually. He was close to his best, which is pretty good, since NFL scouts consider him a lock for the draft.
The Hawaii senior wide receiver was one of the few Warriors who consistently looked like he belonged on the field with Georgia as the Bulldogs whipped UH 41-10.
Rivers is the only player in Warrior history to play four bowl games. The link between the Tim Chang and Colt Brennan eras finished his career as UH's leading receiver in receptions and yards with 292 catches and 3,919.
As for bowl games, he totaled an incredible 704 yards on 42 catches with six touchdowns.
He returned to last night's game after being knocked out for a few plays following a hard hit from Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
"I got my helmet driven into the ground and everyone's weight was on me," Rivers said. "I blacked out for a second. But I wasn't going to sit this out. It's a big game. They'd have to break my arm, break my leg."
But as good and tough as Rivers was, so was Georgia cornerback Asher Allen. Their confrontation during UH's second drive of the game was the closest thing to a turning point in the rout.
UH's drive included two Rivers receptions and a pass interference call against Allen. But there was also a holding call and an unsportsmanlike foul against Rivers. The latter led to Hawaii settling for Dan Kelly's 41-yard field goal when the Warriors needed a touchdown to tie the game at 7.
"I didn't hear the whistle (and kept blocking Allen). I'm never the one to get that penalty. I was just trying to keep my block," he said. "It was very important for momentum just to get the team started (to get a touchdown)."
Allen led Georgia with nine tackles and two interceptions, one of them after the issue had long been settled. But his first quarter battle with Rivers was just as big.
"I knew I was going to be going against (Rivers) the majority of the time," Allen said. "I always want to set the tone early."