Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Monday, September 27, 1999

Rainbows wipe
the slate clean

HOW about them Rainbows? Suddenly, they've acquired a taste for winning. And losing streak? What losing streak?

Hawaii football coach June Jones can be forgiven for not knowing what losing streak people were talking about.

After all, it has been so-o-o-o long since they've lost a game. What is it? Three weeks? Instead, his Rainbows have put together a three-game winning streak - UH's longest since 1992.

Under their first-year coach, the football 'Bows jettisoned all baggage chockful of losing memories with a 20-0 victory over Southern Methodist in Dallas Saturday in their Western Athletic Conference opener.

Heck, opener. It was an eye-opener, a losing-streak buster.

The victory - a shutout yet - was UH's first win on the WAC road in seven years, ending a 24-game losing streak. It also did away with two other ignominious losing steaks - 15 in a row away from home and 12 straight conference defeats.

That the Rainbows could win a game on the road despite not playing their best game, at least in the second half, is a testament to the new attitude Jones has brought to the once-downtrodden program that not too long ago held the nation's longest losing streak.

Fast winning over nonbelievers, Jones has already shown he's worth the money that got him here.

EVEN the most diehard of UH fans are a bit giddy right now with the Rainbows' 3-1 record. And, yes, 1-0, in the WAC, folks.

Despite a 10-0 halftime lead, the Rainbows squandered enough opportunities that would have made even a victory at Aloha Stadium difficult, let alone on the road.

Three Dan Robinson interceptions, three penalties that might require Jones to conduct a class in Football 101 for his players and SMU mistakes nearly ruined the Rainbows' victory party.

Visions of yet another road loss were staring the Rainbows in the face.

But a stout defense, which has now strung together six scoreless quarters, and a game-clinching 13-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Craig Stutzmann with 6:36 to play brought an end to years of frustration for the Rainbows, who hardly were road warriors.

Nate Jackson, a sophomore safety from Waianae, came up with the biggest defensive play of the game by recovering a fumble at the UH goal line to deprive SMU of a sure touchdown just before the half.

But the 'Bows continue to keep their couch-potato faithful watching on television on the edge of their seats.

AN illegal forward pass by Robinson, who had his first attempt batted back to him, short-circuited one drive.

Then with SMU facing a third-and-22, Shawndel Tucker, was called for pass interference, which gave the Mustangs an automatic first down at the UH 13.

Fortunately, that's when Jackson was in the right place at the right time to recover Kris Briggs' fumble at the goal line.

Eric Hannum's 50-yard field goal on the final play of the first half gave the 'Bows their 10-0 lead. But a personal foul penalty for grabbing a face-mask (by the kicking team!) took away Hannum's 36-yard field goal off the scoreboard moments earlier.

Hannum did make the rekick from 50 yards out for a career long but the no-no penalty could have been costly.

So the Rainbows are back home, trying to make it four in a row against Texas-El Paso.

Who would have thunk it?

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

E-mail to Sports Editor

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