Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Monday, September 13, 1999

Thanks, EIU,
Hawaii needed that

A win is a win is a win. And so, the Hawaii Rainbows finally ended the nation's longest losing streak. Never mind that it came at the expense of Division I-AA Eastern Illinois.

"The monkey is finally off our backs," said Kaulana Noa, who started his 38th straight game at right tackle last Saturday in UH's 31-27 victory.

"Monkey? It was more like a big ape. King Kong," added Rainbow quarterback Dan Robinson, who passed for a school-record 452 yards.

Dwight Carter also set an all-time Rainbow single-game record of 220 yards in catching nine passes. "It would have meant nothing, if we didn't win," he said.

Records, though, were the furthest thing from Robinson's and Carter's minds.

Rather, it was finally ending that 19-game losing streak since beating Fresno State, 28-16, on Oct. 11, 1997.

But the game was in doubt until the final minutes against the undermanned Panthers, who had the Rainbows reeling on their heels.

Only a couple conservative play calls by EIU coach Bob Spoo, who called for punts from UH's 41- and 36-yard lines, and the loss of 6-foot-3, 270-pound tight end Seth Willingham because of knee injury on the first play of the fourth quarter, kept the Rainbows from losing once more.

THANKS to Robinson and Carter, plus TD receptions of 80 and 14 yards by Attrice Brooks, it was finally feel-good time in the UH locker room.

"The guys who have been here two, three years finally got something to cheer about," said June Jones, who got his first victory as Hawaii's head coach.

"That took the pressure off. Now the guys don't have to worry about that big goose egg."

But Jones, and defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, surely have to worry about the team's lack of defense so far.

It's one thing that Southern Cal racked up 529 total yards. But to have Eastern Illinois run and pass at will for 497 yards has to be alarming.

That's 1,026 yards allowed in two games.

When the 'Bows finally went ahead for he first time in the third quarter, it wasn't because of their defense. The Panthers stopped themselves.

Two EIU turnovers - a pass interception by Phil Austin and a fumble recovery by Daniel Ho-Ching - led to quick UH touchdowns

And did we mention the inept play of the Rainbow special teams, especially on kickoffs? Poor judgment on running back kickoffs led to terrible field position against SC.

NOT that it mattered. But two fumbled kickoff returns nearly proved fatal against Eastern Illinois.

A repeat of that performance against Boise State, a better team than Eastern Illinois, will quickly lead to the Rainbows returning to their losing ways.

"We play like this (again) and we'll get beat," Jones admitted.

Which would be unfortunate, because UH hasn't won back-to-back games since beating Minnesota and Cal State Northridge to open the 1997 season.

Still, winning was just the tonic that the Rainbows needed. Badly needed.

And irony of ironies.

Maybe it's a reflection of the Sad Sack status of the Western Athletic Conference, but guess who was the the only team to win over the weekend? The team that finally ended the nation's longest losing streak.

The rest of the WAC went 0-7 against nonconference opponents.

So, not only was it a win for the Rainbows, it was the WAC's only win.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin