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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Monday, October 16, 2000

Guys in black get
monkey off their backs

NOBODY said it was going to be easy, and it wasn't. But the University of Hawaii football team sure made it hard for itself.

But, as they say, a win is a win is a win.

And so, June Jones and his H-Men will take the 30-15 victory over Southern Methodist Saturday at Aloha Stadium for their first win of the season.

They got the monkey off their backs. A gorilla, really.

"This was a big win for us because it was our first one," Jones said.

And the H-Men should feel a lot better about themselves than if they had been 0-5 going to Rice this Saturday.

But they still shouldn't feel too good, considering the game wasn't as close as the score indicated.

Again an epidemic of penalties -- 14 for 102 yards -- continued to hurt them.

Maybe it's the villain-looking black uniforms. Officials must think they're the bad guys, because if there's any semblance of an infraction, they'll throw the yellow flags.

Hawaii's still not a good enough football team to keep making silly penalties and win. And it certainly isn't good enough to overcome bad calls.

Despite the penalties in what was the worst game officiated I've seen, Hawaii prevailed. But it won't cut it in a road game.

Only a jarring, fumble-causing tackle by linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa that led to a game-clinching touchdown with 2:07 remaining prevented UH from possibly going down to its fifth straight defeat.

"I knew we needed a big play," said Tinoisamoa, who had a breakthrough game with 10 tackles, four for losses totaling 22 yards.

Prior to the final touchdown, Hawaii had been holding a precarious 23-15 lead, and SMU still had a shot at making up the eight points with one scoring drive.

Eric Hannum could have given UH a 24-15 lead, requiring the Mustangs to score twice, but he was forced to attempt at PAT from 35 yards out because of a penalty and he missed.

Craig Stutzmann was called for the unsportsmanlike penalty when he backed into the end zone after a great tackle-breaking 47-yard catch-and-run on a pass from Timmy Chang.

It was a tacky call. Excessive celebration it wasn't.

Stutzmann said he wasn't showboating and, knowing the spunky junior slotback, I believe him.

"I didn't know what it (the penalty) was for," Stutzmann said. He said he was just looking back to enjoy the sight of the 33,694 fans cheering.

Like I said, UH's bad reputation precedes itself. Anything close and a flag will be thrown. Bet on it.

IT was also an emotional moment for Stutzmann, who redeemed himself after fumbling at SMU's 28 on the drive before.

"It was redemption drive all the way," he said. For both Stutzmann and sophomore wide receiver Ashley Lelie, who was wide open and dropped a sure TD pass on that same drive.

"I knew I had a touchdown," said Lelie, who dropped a perfect strike from Timmy Chang.

"I tried to look upfield too soon. There won't be too many of them happening again. I'm so glad that Stutz came through for me."

Lelie had caught a 20-yard pass just before Stutzmann's TD reception on the two-play 67-yard drive, enabling UH to widen a 17-15 lead.

But both Lelie and Stutzmann were glad to get victory No. 1. "Hopefully, it'll be the start of a winning streak for us," Lelie said.

For the second game in a row, the young O-line didn't give up a sack.

"That's the standard we want to set," said sophomore guard Vince Manuwai. "We know how good we can be."

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

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