GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Chris Brown and Vince Manuwai hugged as Hawaii Bowl executive director Jim Donovan announced that the Warrior football team has been invited to the Christmas Day game. Coach June Jones, right, looked on. It will be Hawaii's first postseason game since the 1999 Oahu Bowl.
needs heart surgery
Former Hawaii standout Nate Jackson is awaiting heart surgery at The Queen's Medical Center, but his conditioned has improved, his family confirmed last night.
"He's doing better," a Jackson spokesperson said. "We're not sure when he will get out of the hospital. He's still day-to-day."
Jackson was hospitalized Oct. 24 after suffering complications from a viral infection. He was reported in serious condition, and doctors were waiting for his condition to stabilize before performing surgery to replace a heart valve, UH school officials said.
Jackson, a free safety, completed his football eligibility last December, and was cut by the Tennessee Titans in August. He is now a senior outfielder on the UH baseball team. Rainbows head coach Mike Trapasso said he couldn't comment, but former teammate Ashley Lelie said things didn't sound good.
"I don't know all the details, but it sounds kinda bad," the current Denver wideout said last night. He is in town this week because the Broncos have a bye.
"It's hard to think about a friend and former teammate being in that situation. I hope I will be able to go see him before I leave."
Many of Jackson's former teammates were wearing the initials "N.J." on their helmets during last night's game with San Jose State.
"This was for him," senior linebacker Chris Brown said. "Before the game we talked about Nate and what he's about. We've got to play like Nate plays."
UH secondary coach Rich Miano paid a visit to Jackson earlier this week.
"He's getting better, but he's going to be in the hospital for a while," Miano said. "They have to get the infection all out before they can operate on his heart. We brought all the DBs to visit him. There were tears in everybody's eyes because they all know how strong he is and could see how he was suffering. To see him in pain, you know it's incredible pain because he's the toughest kid I've ever seen."
Pick this: Hawaii's defensive philosophy stresses takeaways, and it showed in last night's 40-31 win over San Jose State.
The Warriors finished the game with three interceptions and a fumble recovery, and Pisa Tinoisamoa's pick at the line of scrimmage with 1:20 remaining put the final exclamation point on Hawaii's win.
After the game a drained Kevin Lempa acknowledged that the turnovers contributed to the victory, but said UH could have done even better.
"We didn't have enough," Hawaii's defensive coordinator said. "We should have had (more)."
Linebacker Chris Brown nabbed a tipped screen pass and corner Kelvin Millhouse, who has been outstanding in recent weeks, added another pick.
"I feel more confident in what we're doing," Millhouse said. "The more we play together as a defense, we have more confidence in our scheme."
Brown's backup, Chad Kalilimoku, also jumped on a Lamar Ferguson fumble after San Jose State's diminutive tailback had broken loose for a 19-yard gain. It led to Hawaii's second touchdown.
Crazy stuff: Hawaii has a way of making the end of first halves interesting. Last night the Warriors faked a punt with six seconds left from their own 37.
But Pat Harley couldn't catch Chad Kapanui's pass, and San Jose State took over with one second remaining.
Nick Gilliam's 54-yard field-goal attempt failed and the half ended with UH leading 28-17.
Short yardage: Lelie, who has a bye this week with the Denver Broncos, attended the game along with former Warriors quarterback Jared Flint. Flint plans to be among the first group of students at UH's film school, which is scheduled to open next fall. ... The Warriors aren't the only team that gets called for ticky-tack celebration penalties. Four penalty flags hit the ground when Gilliam and holder Beau Pierce did a leaping high-five after the games first extra point. It set the tone for a game in which the teams combined for 28 penalties for 273 yards.