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UNLV kept the ball away from UH's run-and-shoot


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POSTED: Sunday, September 20, 2009

HENDERSON, Nev. » There are a few different theories on how to stop the run-and-shoot offense. There's one everyone agrees with. Keep it off the field.

Hawaii ran only four plays in the entire third quarter last night in its 34-33 loss at UNLV. Quarterback Greg Alexander put up another impressive passing display with a career high in yards for the second week in a row, this time with 477. But when he could've been expanding UH's tenuous lead, he was standing on the sideline cooling off, along with Kealoha Pilares (12 catches for 143 yards—in the first half) and the rest of the offense.

Alexander said all that waiting around might have hurt the offense's rhythm. But he also pointed back to early in the game.

“;We missed a lot of red zone in the first half. We can't be good from 20 to 20. We've got to finish drives.”;

Field goals are great, but not as the reward for first and goal from the 3. That's like having a hamburger because they're out of ribeye. That's called settling.

“;The game shouldn't have been close in the first place,”; Pilares said. “;We've got to be a lot more hungry for (the end zone).

Offensive coordinator Ron Lee said the game plan was working, but the unspoken part of it—punching it in—well, that's another story.

“;We had our shots early in the first quarter,”; Lee said. “;We had some shots (late), but we ran out of time. The lesson here is when you get the chance, you gotta score.”;

THE WARRIORS also hurt themselves with an untimely penalty for taunting that turned around a drive for the Rebels in the second quarter. And as the game wore on, it became clear that UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton is not the type of player you want to supply with breaks.

In addition to managing the Rebels' complicated spread option, Clayton threw on the run with ridiculous accuracy and dinged the Warriors several times with his feet. That's when he wasn't lofting TD lobs to a fleet of talented receivers, like Phillip Payne, who caught two scores, including the 15-yard game-winner with 36 seconds left.

THE UH defense had a couple of chances to stop the final drive, a 14-play odyssey that ate 4:40 of the last 5:27.

“;The offense played awesome,”; linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane said. “;It was our job to finish it and we didn't.”;

I wondered if fatigue factored in, all that time on the field in the third quarter. No, according to everyone, including safety Spencer Smith, who dropped a potential interception that would've wrapped it up.

“;We should make the plays no matter what,”; Smith said. “;That's why you condition. It wasn't because I was tired or anything. It went through my hands.”;

“;I think we just got out-executed,”; coach Greg McMackin said. “;We blitzed (Clayton) a bunch, he got the ball out.”;

So the Warriors end their long road trip with a split. Although it's what many expected, it has to be hard for Hawaii to accept because of what could be—a 3-0 record heading into conference.

But on a night when the Warriors left points on the field, UH finished one short.