Warriors to limit lament of tough loss


POSTED: Monday, September 21, 2009

A one-point loss naturally leads to thoughts of what might have been.

Another play here, perhaps a break there, and the outcome could have swung the other way.

Hawaii's loss to UNLV on Saturday night offered myriad moments to ponder after the Warriors dropped their first game of the season, a 34-33 defeat decided in the final minute.

“;It would have meant a lot, but we didn't do it,”; UH quarterback Greg Alexander said of the Warriors' goal of returning to Honolulu undefeated. “;So now we go home 2-1, and there are no could've been, should've beens. The reality is we're 2-1 and we let 3-0 slip away.”;

The Warriors landed yesterday morning and will have a week to regroup before boarding yet another flight on Sunday to embark on their longest road trip of the season in terms of mileage.

The Warriors' travel-heavy September schedule continues next week with a trek to Louisiana Tech to open the Western Athletic Conference season in a Wednesday night game on Sept. 30. The nationally televised game ends a stretch of three straight road games.

“;We'll get back, rest up, get back to work and get back to watching film, and move on to our next opponent,”; receiver Greg Salas said. “;You're only allowed to mourn a little bit, so once we get back it should be out of our mind and we've got to move on to LaTech.”;

Salas leads the country in receiving with 159.7 yards per game, while Alexander moved into the top spot in total offense after passing for 477 yards against UNLV.

Alexander established career bests in each of UH's first three games and ranks second nationally in passing average with 411.33 yards per game and total yards with 1,234, trailing only Texas Tech's Taylor Potts.

Rodney Bradley moved into fifth in receiving following a 189-yard performance, and Kealoha Pilares is tied for fourth in receptions with an average of nine per game.

But the numbers the Warriors generated were overshadowed by the single digit in the loss column as they left Sam Boyd Stadium vexed by opportunities that slipped away in all three phases.

The Warriors enter the WAC season tied for 112th in the FBS in red-zone offense with nine scores in 15 drives inside the opponent's 20. Three fumbles inside the 15-yard line didn't end up hurting the Warriors against Washington State a week earlier. Settling for a field goal and missing another in the first quarter eventually factored into the outcome against UNLV.

“;We pretty much had everything we wanted. Our game plan was good. We missed a lot in the red zone in the first half,”; Alexander said. “;We can't be good 20 to 20. We have to finish drives.”;

The UH defense thwarted UNLV on two red-zone situations, coming away with an interception and a missed field goal. But, thanks in large part to quarterback Omar Clayton's quick feet and even quicker release, the Rebels scored on their final three possessions, taking the lead for good with a 14-play march ending with Clayton's touchdown pass to Phillip Payne with 36 seconds left.

With the Warriors thin on the line, head coach Greg McMackin went with a 3-4 alignment for much of the game, as opposed to their base 4-3 look. They threw blitzes at Clayton to generate pressure, dropping him only once.

The Rebels' performance on third downs added to the wear on the Warriors defense. UNLV went 10-for-16 on third-down situations, converting all six in their final three scoring drives. The winning touchdown came on third and goal from the 15.

“;We're just going to take this as a learning experience. We start WAC play next week and we're going to bust our (butts) back in Honolulu,”; defensive end Jake Heun said.