Bears will remember near miss


POSTED: Saturday, September 05, 2009

Central Arkansas can take a lot of positives from last night.

Running back Brent Grimes scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Robbie Park completed nearly 66 percent of his throws and didn't have an interception in 31 attempts.

Defensively, the Bears allowed only 25 points to a Hawaii team in what coach Clint Conque called the most hostile environment they will play in.

But a moral victory? Don't even think about bringing it up to Conque.

“;We came here to win a football game,”; Conque said. “;We're not accustomed to losing. What do we take from it? We're 0-1. Next question. There are no moral victories.”;

Central Arkansas, a Division I FCS team from the Southland Conference, nearly completed the longest road trip in school history with a historic upset. Instead, the Bears return home feeling the pains of a heart-breaking 25-20 loss to Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.

“;Knowing that you were that close, it hurts,”; said Park, who finished 20-for-31 for 186 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked on the Bears' final two offensive plays of the game. “;We can build on this, but it still hurts.”;

The Bears controlled the game in the first half, forcing a turnover and scoring a touchdown in the first 2 minutes.

After Hawaii answered with 10 points in the third quarter to take a 19-14 lead, Grimes capped Central Arkansas' first drive of the fourth quarter with his third touchdown of the game, a 1-yard dive over the Hawaii defense.

The Bears had a chance to run out the clock. But faced with a key third and 2, right tackle Lane Freiward jumped offside, moving them 5 yards back. Park threw an incomplete pass on the next play and the Bears were forced to punt, giving Hawaii a chance to retake the lead.

“;We lost our poise,”; Conque said. “;We got the look we wanted and we jumped offside. We get that first down, the game is inside 2 minutes and probably over.”;

Park took the field with more than a minute left, staring at every quarterback's dream scenario, a chance to lead his team on a game-winning drive in the final minute.

Instead, it became a painful nightmare, as Park was dropped to the turf twice, fumbling the ball on the second play, which was originally ruled an incomplete pass. After a booth review, the call was overturned and it was ruled a fumble, giving the Warriors the ball, and the game.

“;That's what you want, you want the ball in your hands,”; Park said. “;They heat us up. They brought a blitz from the right side and it was good on them.”;

An Aloha Stadium crowd of 33,298 was the largest a Central Arkansas team has ever played in front of, and played a key role in the Bears' final drive.

“;I'm going to tell you what, it got loud down there,”; Conque said. “;Our communication struggled, particularly when we were backed up. We need to play a little more gracefully when the pressure is on.”;