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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Monday, November 27, 2000

Despite errors,
UH made it

LET'S see now, all the things the University of Hawaii football team did wrong against Wisconsin:

Bullet A missed 33-yard field goal by Eric Hannum.

Bullet A botched extra-point attempt.

Bullet A face-mask penalty by a defensive lineman, nullifying Nate Jackson's safety blitz in-the-bag sack and helping the Badgers on their way to a 76-yard scoring drive.

Bullet Poor clock management, allowing time to run out in the first half instead of capitalizing on a first-and-goal at the Wisconsin five with one timeout left.

Bullet A Tim Chang interception that led to a cheapie Badger touchdown, covering only 25 yards.

Bullet Two dropped passes in the end zone for possible touchdowns.

Bullet Seven 3-and-outs by the offense, two of them taking only 21 and 27 seconds off the clock.

Bullet Three Hawaii offside penalties that kept Wisconsin scoring drives alive.

Not that the Badgers needed any help, mind you.

With Michael Bennett, a big-time Big Ten running back, gaining 218 yards on 36 carries and wide receiver Chris Chambers, another future NFL player, hauling in eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns, Wisconsin had more than enough offensive firepower to handle Hawaii.

You figure it's no contest, right? Not so fast.

To a man, everyone on the UH team in a glum locker room after the game was disappointed at the 34-18 loss before a crowd of 37,699, including some 5,000 red-clad Badger fans Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

Even with all the mistakes, the Hawaii players knew they had an opportunity to win an unwinnable game.

No wonder Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez described it as a "strange game with a lot of funny things happening out there."

"We had our chances," said UH coach June Jones, "but we didn't play our best game by any stretch. We needed to make some plays . . . and we didn't do it. We just didn't get it done."

There was no stopping Bennett, another prime-time running back that Hawaii faced this season. TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson and Deonce Whitaker of San Jose State had nothing on the speedy 5-10, 200-pound junior.

Bennett sat out the final 12 minutes of the game, saying sayonara after a 19-yard run to start the Badgers' final scoring drive of 80 yards -- the same distance they covered to take a 7-0 lead after the opening kickoff.

AS for Chambers, who caught touchdown passes of 27 and 30 yards, he's also a big-time receiver. It seemed unfair to have a freshman walk-on cornerback, Hyrum Peters, covering him one-on-one.

No other match-up could show more dramatically the disparity between the UH and Wisconsin personnel.

Not even the Badgers' offensive line, which averaged 6-foot-5, 310 pounds from tackle to tackle. If that's not enough, their tight ends were 6-6 and 6-8, both weighing 269 pounds.

So you can't blame the UH defense, which was not only getting plowed under, but which spent much too much time on the field.

Maybe the biggest statistical eye-opener in the game wasn't the numbers put up by Bennett or Chambers, but the time of possession. Wisconsin had the ball 41 minutes, 47 seconds to 18:13 for Hawaii.

Like I said, despite all that, Hawaii still had a chance to win. Perhaps that's the most startling revelation about the loss to the Badgers.

So maybe UH can win a game that's very winnable against Nevada-Las Vegas in the season finale Saturday.

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