GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Eastern Illinois quarterback Tony Romo tried to scramble away fron UH defensive end Kevin Jackson last night.
Ilaoa backs up
hype in debut
Warriors whoop it up
Peters fills in well at safety
EIU's Raymond gets spotlight
Warriors Game Stats
Much was expected of Nate Ilaoa when he signed with Hawaii as one of the top receivers on the East Coast two years ago.
After choosing the Warriors over such schools as Oklahoma, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and BYU, Ilaoa had to sit out a year as a redshirt before he could make an impact as a Warrior. But when he finally got his chance last night, he didn't disappoint the 38,019 at Aloha Stadium.
The freshman inside receiver caught four passes for 38 yards and his first UH touchdown in his collegiate debut. The score at the 11:35 mark of the second quarter gave Hawaii the lead for good at 17-13.
It appeared Ilaoa's first UH appearance might be delayed during fall camp, after a hamstring injury forced him to the sidelines for a few practices.
But Ilaoa made his presence felt in the second quarter of last night's game by hauling in a 17-yard strike from Tim Chang. Three plays later, Chang found Ilaoa alone in the end zone for a 13-yard score and Hawaii's first offensive touchdown of the season.
Officially on the team now: Before the game, there was some speculation whether defensive tackle Abu Maafala would see action or if the promising freshman from Kamehameha Schools could be saved for a redshirt season. With starter Lui Fuga suffering a fractured fibula in the first half, Maafala saw his first action as a Warrior early and often. But Maafala announced his arrival with a splash in the fourth quarter, stealing a Tony Romo pass and rumbling 32 yards for a touchdown.
In what is becoming a Warrior tradition, Maafala was also assessed his first career unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration on the play with a Chad Owens leap into the end zone.
Laboy suspended for 1 game: Hawaii head coach June Jones declined to comment before the game on why junior defensive end Travis Laboy, a second-team all-conference pick last year, did not suit up.
Laboy, who led UH's defensive linemen with 52 tackles last year, was injured much of fall camp. He practiced last week, but apparently did not make the trip to the team hotel on Friday, as he was seen that night at the Wahine volleyball match.
Laboy was listed as probable with a toe injury in the Warriors' injury report this week.
Junior Kevin Jackson -- who is part of UH's four-man rotation at end, anyway -- started in Laboy's place.
Day at the beach: Unlike three years ago, when Sunday was "Getaway Day," Eastern Illinois is enjoying the holiday weekend in Hawaii. The Panthers had a beach day planned tomorrow, followed by a luau. The team will leave tomorrow, flying direct to St. Louis, then bus home to Charleston, Ill.
EIU has a bye this coming weekend then goes to Kansas State on Sept. 14.
Coach Bob Spoo said the trip to Hawaii was a "break-even" game while the game at K-State should mean a profit near $30,000 for the I-AA program.
Short yardage: Marcia Klompus of the Hula Bowl attended the game. "We've already invited four UH players, but we need to look out for sleepers, too," she said. ... Hawaii won its second-consecutive season-opener. ... Honored during last night's halftime was the Waipio Little League baseball team which advanced to last month's World Series in Williamsport, Pa. ... Junior defensive tackle Lui Fuga went down with a fracture to his left fibula three minutes into the game and did not return. Fuga missed all of last season after undergoing surgery on both shoulders. ... The 61 points for Hawaii are the most UH has scored in a season opener against a college opponent. On Sept. 29, 1923, Hawaii opened with an 83-6 victory against Coast Defense, which obviously didn't have much. UH beat Linfield 44-6 on Sept. 25, 1971, and Cal State Fullerton 44-0 in its previously most productive season openers against college teams. ... Last night's tickets distributed count was 39,958. ... Reserve cornerback Josiah Cravalho sprained his right ankle while playing on the kickoff return team. He said he will be ready to play next week.