Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Monday, October 21, 1996

Nothing comes
easy for the Rainbows

AS sports fans, we're so used to winners that we're spoiled. That's why the Atlanta Braves and Tiger Woods - so absolutely mind-boggling right now - are capturing our imagination.

In the case of the Braves, when you win, 14-0 and 15-0 going into the World Series opener which you win, 12-1, with your pitcher almost getting a no-hitter, you can't help but feel invincible.

And in the case of Woods, the sensational 20-year-old who is turning the sport of golf into a one-man showcase, you start scratching your head and wondering, it can't be that easy, can it?

They won over the weekend, just as the University of Hawaii Rainbows did, beating winless Nevada-Las Vegas, 38-28.

In UH's case, it was a hard-fought struggle. For the Braves and Woods, their victories almost had a sense of inevitable.

So, don't you wish, Rainbow fans, that it could be the same way for your team? And, yet, it isn't. Nothing comes easy for the Rainbows.

They were 13-point favorites, although anyone who takes the 'Bows and gives points this season should be committed to a mental hospital to protect them from bookies.

The 'Bows finally won their first Western Athletic Conference game of the season and their first since beating Fresno State Nov. 4, 1995 to end a seven-game conference losing streak.

IT might not mean a lot to you or me. But it certainly did for the Rainbow players.

"Finally," said long-suffering quarterback Glenn Freitas.

Also saying finally and amen were running backs Carlos Shaw, Paul Purdy and senior Randall Okimoto and tight end Ryan Green, who scored the first touchdowns of their UH careers.

For a while, though, it looked as if it would be a long night for the Rainbows. Especially after they shockingly trailed, 21-7, after the first quarter in what was a dubious battle for last place in the WAC.

But the Rainbows came back with 31 unanswered points as the defense pitched a shutout for three quarters until UNLV quarterback Jon Denton scored on a 30-yard run with 24 seconds left in the game.

It was Denton, a 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman, who threw three touchdown passes to Len Ware, another freshman, that put the Rainbows behind the 8-ball in the early going.

Freitas, for one, wasn't worried. "We knew we could win," said the senior who led the second-half comeback with scoring drives of 56 and 57 yards that finally overtook the Rebels, 24-21.

And, for a change, when the going got tough, it was the home team that saw a running back break loose on a long scoring run that iced the game. Russell Grant, a 5-foot-6 sophomore tailback, scored on a 66-yard run that put the 'Bows firmly in control, 31-21.

A turnstile crowd of 20,475 braved the pregame torrential downpour to see the Rainbows win their second game of the season against six defeats.

The fans had to weather what UH coach Fred vonAppen called a "grotesque first half" in which the Rainbows found themselves behind, 14-0, and then, 21-7.

They came alive after intermission, but as far as vonAppen was concerned, his 'Bows need to play 60 complete minutes of football, not just one half, if they are to have any chance to win another game this season.

The good news is that the 'Bows beat UNLV. The bad news is that they have four more games, starting this Saturday at Air Force, a team that beat nationally ranked Notre Dame, Then they wind up against San Jose State, Brigham Young University and Wisconsin.

You can count on the Atlanta Braves and Tiger Woods to keep on being successful. Unfortunately, you can't say that for the Rainbows - especially when they'll face Air Force, BYU and Wisconsin.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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