In the end, Hawaii falls flat at Nevada


POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

RENO, Nev. » The recurring nightmare continues for Hawaii.

The Warriors — who arrived at Mackay Stadium yesterday as steep underdogs — put a scare into Nevada for most of a bright afternoon in Reno.

But they ultimately went into Halloween night agonizing again over those pivotal moments that tipped the Wolf Pack's way in a 31-21 Western Athletic Conference loss to close a frightful October.

After Hawaii jumped out to a two-touchdown lead, Nevada had enough firepower to fend off the Warriors and extend both its winning streak and Hawaii's frustration.

Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two more to lead Nevada to its fifth straight victory and exorcise the demons of tight losses to the Warriors the previous three years.

Running back Vai Taua accounted for 127 yards, while Kaepernick added 114 as the Wolf Pack improved to 5-3 overall and remained atop the Western Athletic Conference standings at 4-0.

Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz exploited Nevada's pass defense, rated next to last in the country, for 374 yards and three scores. But breakdowns at key moments contributed to Hawaii's sixth straight defeat and completing an 0-for-October run.

Nevada turned two UH interceptions into touchdowns, including one in the end zone when the Warriors appeared to be driving toward a tying touchdown in the third quarter.

The Wolf Pack completed the potential 14-point swing by converting the turnover into a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Tray Session.





        » Who: Utah State (2-6, 1-3 WAC) at Hawaii (2-6, 0-5)

» When: 5:05 p.m. Saturday


» TV/Radio: PPV Ch. 255/KKEA, 1420-AM


» Last meeting: Nov. 1, 2008, Utah State won, 30-14.


“;The important thing is making plays, and we were making them early and there were some we didn't finish,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said after the Warriors fell to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in WAC play.

The game was far more competitive than the Warriors' blowout loss to Boise State at home a week earlier, which provided some bright spots but also added to the sting.

“;It's so frustrating,”; running back Alex Green said. “;We practice hard all week, we come out there and bust our tails in the game and it's still a loss. It's frustrating. We just have to keep working harder and harder and harder.”;

The big plays belonged to Hawaii early on when Moniz led the Warriors on a 78-yard march culminating with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kealoha Pilares.

After forcing Nevada to punt, the Warriors struck quickly when Jovonte Taylor took a quick out and turned it into a 71-yard score, giving UH a 14-0 lead less than 7 minutes into the game.

But the Wolf Pack answered with Kaepernick scoring on a 2-yard run, and Taua turned a short screen pass into a 30-yard score, weaving through the Hawaii secondary on his way to the end zone.

Nevada safety Mo Harvey then intercepted a Moniz pass intended for Greg Salas and Kaepernick bolted 38 yards for the Pack's second score in a 1:17 span, putting the Pack ahead to stay.

Although Nevada, the nation's top rushing offense, picked up 312 yards on the ground, the Hawaii defense kept the Warriors in contention, and they appeared set to tie the game in the third quarter.

But Nevada defensive back Doyle Miller intercepted a Moniz pass in the end zone after the Warriors drove to the Wolf Pack 13, and Kaepernick's second scoring pass of the game stretched the Nevada lead to 28-14.

“;I think our team played good overall, but a few plays make a difference,”; Moniz said. “;Those two interceptions, those turned out to be 14 points for the other team.

“;(Pilares) got a good release off the line of scrimmage and I thought he would be open. I put too much touch on the ball, kind of guided it, should have just threw it.”;

The Warriors threatened again when Moniz hit Taylor for a 4-yard score with 6:18 left in the game.

But Nevada, given good field position by a kickoff out of bounds, ground out time and yardage in driving to the UH 10. The Pack settled for a Ricky Drake field goal, but it was enough to seal the outcome.

“;Another win, another win in conference, offense didn't play as well, but we got that win,”; Kaepernick said.

The Warriors return home to face Utah State this week, beginning a run of four home games in the last five to close the schedule.

“;At a time like this what you have to do is you have to fight through the trouble,”; McMackin said. “;I think they stood up today. I think they played to the end. I think they fought against an excellent football team.”;