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Wolf Pack running game isn't enough


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POSTED: Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua pushed their way closer to 1,000-yard rushing seasons last night at Aloha Stadium.

Both managed more than 100 yards in dazzling fashion, but all the huge chunks of real estate added up to was a 38-31 loss to Hawaii.

Kaepernick did all he could in the first half to keep the Wolf Pack within striking distance of the Warriors, rushing for 111 yards on 12 carries in the first 30 minutes. Early in the second half, Taua's 79-yard touchdown dash put Nevada in a temporary 17-all tie before Hawaii started to pull away.

It's tough math for coach Chris Ault to understand - two 100-yard rushers adding up to one loss.

"It all goes back to field position," said Ault, whose Wolf Pack squad dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Western Athletic Conference. "I don't think our punt-return team fielded a punt all night. It's tough to run your game plan when you're backed up inside your 10-yard line, and I don't know how many times we started back there. That really put our back to the wall."

Kaepernick finished the night with 139 rushing yards on 18 carries, and now has 752 yards for the season with four games left. He also went 14-for-28 for 173 passing yards and two TDs.

Patented fake handoffs, quick cuts to the outside and blazing open-field speed marked Kaepernick's night, but all three came fully to fruition on his 61-yard, first-quarter TD run.

"Too many missed opportunities on offense, defense and special teams," said Kaepernick, who threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns that put the Wolfpack in a 31-all tie before Hawaii's winning drive.

Taua finished with 160 rushing yards on 16 carries and stands at 896 yards through the team's eight games.

"We've got to be able to pull this kind of game out," Taua said. "I fumbled the ball away and Colin fumbled (in the first half, leading to 14 UH points). I blame myself for giving up the ball and that was seven points right there. No way can I consider myself having a good game."

Still, Nevada could have pulled it out by making a key stop when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Wolf Pack allowed the Warriors to pile up 24 second-half points after holding Hawaii to 14 in the first half.

"The feeling on the bench was hope," Taua said. "Hope for a stop and get another chance. Just one more try, that's all we could ask for."

But when UH, with Greg Alexander at the helm, scored with 20 seconds left for a 38-31 lead, it was too late.

"They (the Wolf Pack defense) played as hard as they can," Kaepernick said. "Everybody makes mistakes. We all stand behind them."

Nevada was right on unbeaten Boise State's tail prior to the game, with just one WAC loss.

"We're still playing for the WAC title, whether it's in our hands or not," the quarterback added. "Or a bowl game. We're not going to send our seniors out without at least a bowl game. If we come together as a team, we can pull it out."