Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, November 15, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
UH running back Jonathan Kauka celebrates with the
rest of the Rainbows after beating Fresno State.

UH climbs
from ridiculous
to sublime

One season after failing to
win a single game, the Rainbows
savor their WAC championship

For Lumpkin, second time sweeter
Who's next
Game stats

By Paul Arnett


As close as this team has become the last ninth months, the myriad differences could be seen in the way each man celebrated Hawaii's 31-24 double-overtime victory over Fresno State.

Clinching at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship and a slot in the postseason lineup, the Rainbows took time to thank their own genies in a bottle.

Middle linebacker Jeff Ulbrich sat in front of his locker with that 1,000-yard stare of his, while all about him men and boys shouted to the rooftops. He took no notice.

"I've been talking to different guys for 15 minutes and I don't know what I said," Ulbrich spoke in a hoarse whisper. "This, makes all the b.s. that we've been through as a team worthwhile."

In another corner of the locker room, Afatia Thompson took off his shoulder pads, patted the knee of fellow running back Avion Weaver and then looked down at the floor.

Wearing the St. Louis School T-shirt that reflects the faded picture of his late brother Eli Thompson in full Crusader regalia, the soft-spoken sophomore of Punahou School fame looked up for a brief moment.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Fresno State running back Derrick Ward coughs up the
ball as he is being tackled by Hawaii's Mike Iosua.

"You know, this is my lucky shirt," Thompson said, Weaver nodding his head knowingly in agreement. "I still wear my brother's shoes, socks and pads. They make me feel close to him. He's with me now."

Thompson paused a second, tears brimming in the corner of his eyes, "Tomorrow's his birthday. We're celebrating this moment together. I've never felt anything like this."

The offensive linemen weren't quite as reflective. Out on the football field minutes after the Rainbows secured the win to tie a school record for the best turnaround at seven games, Adrian Klemm was like a rudely-awakened giant looking for Jack.

"Didn't I tell you back in the WAC meetings that we were going to beat Fresno State for the championship," said Klemm, who didn't care how many Bulldogs heard him. "Nobody believed it. Those guys laughed at me. But who's laughing now?"

Certainly not Fresno State.

The Bulldogs can join the Rainbows as WAC champions by beating San Jose State at home this weekend. Should that happen, Fresno State goes to the Las Vegas Bowl and Hawaii stays here for the holidays to play in the Oahu Bowl. Texas Christian can still go to the Mobile Bowl by beating Texas-El Paso and Southern Methodist in its final two games. SMU also is alive should it win out.

"We don't control our own destiny because if Fresno State loses, we may wind up in Las Vegas," UH head coach June Jones said. "I can't speak for everybody, but I hope we get to stay here and play in the Oahu Bowl in front of our fans."

For some reason, there weren't 50,000 of them stomping the life out of Aloha Stadium. But the 35,000 who stayed until Fresno State quarterback Billy Volek threw his last incomplete pass made enough noise to wake the night marchers.

"This was as loud a stadium as I've ever been in, at any level," Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said. "This place was deafening. These people were really into the game. I'm hoping we get that kind of crowd support next week when we play San Jose. That was a good message to send home."

That sentiment was echoed throughout the UH locker room.

"We have to thank our fans for sticking by us through all the bad times," said slotback Craig Stutzmann, whose 9-yard grab of a Dan Robinson pass in the back right corner of the end zone sealed the deal. "I looked back and saw that perfect pass coming in there and said to myself, 'Just don't drop it.' The roar that went up after that catch. Well ... I'll never forget it."

It's not likely too many will forget it. UH president Ken Mortimer and athletic director Hugh Yoshida were among the celebrants in the locker room. Their own relieved faces spoke a thousand words.

After the Fred vonAppen debacle, these two men were on the hot seat. They never made a better hire than Jones, who in turn, put together a staff of former high school and NFL coaches that helped put the pieces back in place.

"I knew June was going to do something special and I wanted to be a part of that," UH special teams coach Dennis McKnight said. "When I played for June in Detroit, I knew this was somebody I wanted to be around. I turned down a couple of jobs waiting for a chance like this one. This was one of the best decisions of my life."

McKnight is symbolic of the belief system that needed to be put in place. The turnaround on special teams mirrors the seven-game swing Hawaii has managed this season. Win one more and the turnaround will be an NCAA-best.

"Coach McKnight kept me believing in myself when everybody else doubted me," said place-kicker Eric Hannum. Another botched extra point and a missed 29-yard field goal that allowed Fresno State to take the game into OT, had Hannum reeling.

McKnight would later say that Hannum's scary 21-yarder that hugged the left upright, sending the game into the second OT, really won it for the Rainbows. Hannum smiled at that thought and said, "I feel like I've been on spin cycle. In the end, you have to believe in yourself."

There's that word again -- belief.

"Coach Jones got all of us believing in ourselves," said Robinson, whose gritty performance wasn't always pretty, but effective. "My coming to Hawaii has been a blessing in disguise because those first two years in the program were tough. But to be around here and see all the happy faces in this locker room. That why you play this game."

Or as Daniel Ho-Ching put it, "You play for the glory.

"It was a long time coming," the senior safety said, thinking back on his own ordeal that included a two-year bout with cancer. "But would you have wanted to miss this? No way."

For Lumpkin,
second time sweeter

By Paul Arnett


Hawaii associate coach George Lumpkin leaned back against the wall inside the tunnel and congratulated every player who went into the jubilant locker room.

Some greetings were enthusiastic hugs, others were slaps on the shoulder pads or simple handshakes. For Lumpkin, Western Athletic Conference title No. 2 was special.

"This feels every bit as good as when we won it in 1992, maybe even better," Lumpkin said of his days with the Bob Wagner championship staff. "It probably feels a lot better for these kids because they had to come such a long, long way to get to this place in time.

"But in some ways, it's similar because like those guys in 1992, we were picked to finish last by everybody. I still have my old ring. I'm looking forward to getting a new championship ring."

Prior to the Fred vonAppen regime, Lumpkin was a part of the UH program as a player and a coach for a quarter-century. For three years, he and Kanani Souza put the Kamehameha Schools program back on track.

But UH is where he belongs.

"These kids have been through more adversity than the other group, so this one is much better because of them," Lumpkin said. "I know these guys want to be considered in the same breath as that 1992 class and they should be because what they accomplished is truly special.

"I have a special place for these fifth-year seniors because I was around when they first came in. For them to be able to go out as champions, well, you couldn't write it any better than that."

Players in the UH locker room echoed those sentiments.

"When we first came here, we heard all about the class of 1992," fifth-year senior Tony Tuioti said. "Now, they can talk about the class of 1999, too."

Junior college transfer Channon Harris took it one step further.

"We're going to be adding one next year for the class of 2000," Harris said. "We're going to be thought of as champions around here for a long time."

NEXT GAME vs. Fresno State
Nov. 13, 6:05 p.m. hst

Navy's option
another test for UH

By Paul Arnett


Hawaii defensive coordinator Greg McMackin reached down to pick up his briefcase and head through the back reaches of Aloha Stadium for home when somebody reminded him the Naval Academy was headed this way.

"Thanks a lot," McMackin said, then smiled. "I might have to start watching tapes of the option a little sooner than I thought. This is going to be a tough test for us."

Judging how effective Rice and Texas Christian were against Hawaii in the option game, you can bet McMackin will pull his team out of the clouds by tomorrow morning's practice.

Rice rushed for 354 yards en route to its 38-19 win over Hawaii and TCU gained 237 yards on the ground in its 34-14 victory.

Conference Standings

			Overall				Conference
 			W	L	T	 PCT.	 W	L	T	PCT.	PF	PA
Hawaii			7	3	0	 .700	 5	 2	0	.714	214	 161
Fresno State		7	4	0	 .636	 4	 2	0	.667	 163	129
Texas Christian		5	4	0	 .556	 3	 2	0	.600	 172	99
Rice			5	6	0	 .455	 4	 3	0	.571	 198	161
Texas-El Paso		5	6	0	 .455	 3	 3	0	.500	159	183
Southern Methodist	3	5	0	 .375	 2	 2	0	.500	79	78 
San Jose State		3	6	0	 .333	 1	 4	0	.200	108	 205
Tulsa			2	8	0	 .200	 1	 5	0	.167	115	 192

Last Week's Results

Hawaii 31, Fresno St. 24 (2 OT)
SMU 58, CS Northridge 16
UTEP 30, Rice 29
Louisiana-Monroe 37, Tulsa 34
TCU 27, North Texas 3

Coming Up Saturday

SMU at Tulsa, 9 a.m.
UTEP at TCU, 9:05 a.m.
San Jose St. at Fresno St., 1:30 p.m.
Navy at Hawaii, 6:05 p.m.

Season Statistics

			Hawaii	Opp
FIRST DOWNS		207	208
 Rushing		56	91
 Passing		133	95
 Penalty		18	22
 Yards gained rushing	1218	1922
 Yards lost rushing	260	 356
 Rushing Attempts	259	 449
 Average Per Rush.	3.7	 3.5
 Average Per Game	95.8	156.6
 TDs Rushing		12	17
 Att-Comp		463-241	 312-187
 Had intercepted	15	15
 Average Per Pass	6.8	6.6
 Average Per Catch	13.1	11.1
 Average Per Game	316.0	 207.1
 TDs Passing		22	15
TOTAL OFFENSE		4118	3637
 Total Plays		722	761
 Average Per Play	 5.7	 4.8
 Average Per Game	411.8 	 363.7
No. -Yards		33-637	47-860
No. -Yards		29-227	25-199
No. -Yards		15-230	 15-145
FUMBLES-LOST		23-13	26-14
PENALTIES-YARDS		103-873	98-735
PUNTS-AVG		50-40.9	58-40.5
TIME OF POSS.		26:40	33:20
3RD-DOWN CONV.		52/141	59/152
4TH-DOWN CONV.		7/17	 6/16

		Att.	Yds.	TD	Long
Weaver		93	537	4	47
Thompson	85	424	3	38
Stutzmann	6	36	1	9
Fenderson	2	22	0	11
Grant		5	17	0	13
Phillips	0	6	0	0
Liana		1	5	0	5
Harris		1	3	0	3
Sims		2	2	0	5
Garland		1	1	0	1
Gray		1	1	0	1
Skinner		1	1	0	1
Team		1	-1	0	0
Ho-Ching	1	-1	0	0
Harrison	8	-13	1	5
Robinson	51	-82	3	14

		Att.	Com.	Int.	Yds.	TD
Robinson	442	232	14	3069	22
Harrison	20	9	1	91	0
Ho-Ching	1	0	0	0	0

		No.	Yds.	TD	Long
Carter		63	941	6	62
Stutzmann	52	532	8	34
Harris		46	758	4	48
Lelie		30	434	2	43
Thompson	19	138	0	25
Weaver		13	136	0	29
Brooks		5	116	2	80
Gray		3	31	0	18
Sims		2	57	0	46
Butts		2	14	0	14
Colbert		2	7	0	8
de Laura	1	7	0	7
Noa		1	-1	0	0
Owen		1	-3	0	0
Robinson	1	-7	0	0

		No.	Yds.	Avg.	Long
Shrout		49	2046	41.8	60

Ulbrich		38	94	132
Y. Warren	26	55	81
LeJay		19	46	65
D. Miller	26	39	65
Paul		16	43	59
N.Jackson	18	37	55
Kemfort		12	32	44
A. Smith	11	30	41
Tucker		15	20	35
Tuioti		6	28	34
Correia		6	26	32
Austin		13	18	31
Iosua		6	20	26
Sims		4	17	21
Avila		2	16	18
Elam		3	14	17
Espiau		5	11	16
Ho-Ching	5	11	16
Fuga		1	12	13
Garnier		5	8	13
Armstrong	1	8	9
Garner		0	9	9
C. Brown	4	4	8
Fenderson	2	6	8
Phillips	1	7	8
Campbell	2	5	7
Espinoza	2	5	7
Williams	3	2	5
Morgan		0	4	4
Shrout		2	2	4
Butts		2	1	3
Dietschy	0	3	3
Harris		1	1	2
Lelie		1	1	2
Liana		1	1	2

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