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Hawaii slots start strong


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POSTED: Sunday, September 20, 2009

HENDERSON, Nev. » The slots certainly were paying off for Hawaii early last night.

In fact, pretty much the only way UNLV could slow down Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas was to keep them off the field.

Pilares put together a career night with 13 catches for 146 yards, while Salas broke the century mark for the third time this season and scored twice last night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Their opportunities were limited in the second half as the Rebels offense controlled much of the action after halftime, leaving just 36 seconds on the clock when they scored the winning touchdown in a 34-33 shootout.

“;They're a good defense and their offense did a great job of keeping us off the field,”; Pilares said.

Although the Warriors put up 505 yards in total offense, after the game, it was the scoring chances that slipped away early in the contest that weighed on their minds after the one-point defeat.

“;We left a lot of stuff out there offensively in the first half,”; said Salas, who finished with six catches for 104 yards. “;I thought we should have had a lot more points. Offensively, we didn't get it done. We could have capitalized on some things and we didn't.”;

Salas entered the game as the nation's leader in receiving yards, and scored the Warriors' first touchdown of the night with a 54-yard reception in the first quarter. He also had a 23-yard scoring reception to ignite a fourth-quarter shootout.

Pilares established career highs in the first half with 12 receptions for 143 yards. His previous best came on the back end of last year's two-game road trip when he had 10 receptions for 90 yards at New Mexico State.

“;It was just that day, the ball was coming to me a lot,”; said Pilares, who ran free for most of the half against UNLV's man-to-man coverage.

Pilares had just one reception in the second half, as Salas and wideout Rodney Bradley (eight catches for 189 yards) saw more of the throws.

On the opening drive of last night's game, Pilares outfought a UNLV defender to make a leaping grab at the Rebels' 3-yard line and set up the Warriors' first score, a field goal by Scott Enos.

“;The game shouldn't have been that close,”; Pilares said. “;On offense we have to put it in and get six points every time.”;

Pilares said the Rebels didn't show them a different look in the second half, other than limiting the Warriors to just four offensive plays in the third quarter.

After the Warriors punted on their first possession, the next two resulted in touchdowns. They got the ball back with 36 seconds left after UNLV took the lead for the last time, but a last-second prayer went unanswered as time ran out.

“;This hurts. We wanted to be 3-0, but it didn't work out that way,”; Salas said.