Peters fills in
well at safety

Some cable viewers miss first half
Warriors whoop it up
EIU's Raymond gets spotlight
Ilaoa backs up hype in debut
Warriors Game Stats

By Jason Kaneshiro

When injuries left the Hawaii football team with a void in the secondary, Hyrum Peters filled it. And when the Warriors needed a spark last night, the junior safety from Kahuku delivered.

Peters' interception and 28-yard return for a touchdown early in the second quarter spurred the Warriors to a 61-36 win over Eastern Illinois in their season opener last night at Aloha Stadium.

"Hyrum Peters' play I thought made the game," UH coach June Jones said. "He is a football player. He's one of our best football players."

With Eastern Illinois holding a 6-3 lead and controlling the game going into the second quarter, Peters broke in front of a Tony Romo pass, sidestepped a would-be tackler at the 2 and stepped into the end zone for the first score of his career.

"For the past three years I had chances to make sacks and interceptions, but it didn't happen, so it's a dream come true," Peters said.

"As soon as I saw the quarterback turn toward my way, I broke, the ball was in the air, I was there and I picked it off. I wanted to make that touchdown. Even though I saw all the big guys coming I just didn't even care."

The play ignited a UH team that had struggled to that point. The UH defense was on the field for 31 plays in the first quarter alone as the offense managed just two first downs. But Peters' score two plays into the second quarter started the Warriors' 30-point barrage in the period.

"That was critical," UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "Turnovers are a change in momentum and that was a big change in momentum because we were struggling. We were on the field a bunch when he made that play, that changed the momentum of the game."

After starting nine games at cornerback last season, Peters proved to be a quick study at the SAM position last night, finishing with nine solo tackles, including a drive-killing sack in the second quarter. Another potential interception slipped through his hands and he tipped away another Romo pass.

Peters was fifth on the team in total tackles as a cornerback last year with 76. He also broke up six passes and intercepted one. But when Matt Manuma went down with a knee injury and fellow Kahuku alum Leonard Peters suffered a bruised kidney and spleen early in fall camp, the UH coaches decided to slide Peters into the safety spot.

"He played a position he had never played before and he did a great job," Lempa said. "We can do a lot of things with him because of his athletic ability."

Peters said he had no reservations about making the move when the coaches asked him to try his hand at safety, quickly making the adjustment from focusing on shutting down one man to surveying the entire field.

"They tell me to do whatever I'll do it," Peters said. "It doesn't matter, if they tell me to go to linebacker, I'll do it. I don't care as long as I get my share on that field. As soon as I got comfortable I started loving it because I like to hit, I like to tackle."

"He's got a big heart," Lempa said. "He's real tough and smart, he's a good football player. He's from Kahuku. What do you expect?"

UH Athletics

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