Hawaii players and coaches, including Britton Komine (84), celebrated after the UH defense stopped a Rice scoring drive.

Warriors hang on

Hawaii devours the Rice doughnut
with a delicious road win

WAC standings
Defense proved to be the difference for Hawaii

By Dave Reardon

HOUSTON >> The true spoils that go with victory on the mainland?

Krispy Kreme.

The three-year doughnut against Rice is no more after Hawaii's 33-28 win yesterday, and one of the game's stars said the Warriors owe it to lack of Homer Simpson-like distractions.

"We weren't thinking of Krispy Kreme, we were thinking about the game, staying focused on the road. You can't get Krispy Kreme in Hawaii, but you can't get road wins at home either," said freshman receiver Nate Ilaoa, who caught 10 passes for 108 yards. "We come from a concept of taking it serious on the road."

Hawaii (8-2, 7-1 Western Athletic Conference) has long had a reputation of failure away from home. But, now, in coach June Jones' four seasons, the Road Warriors are 8-7 away from the islands; they finished this year's traveling show by hanging on to beat the Owls (4-7, 3-5), a team they had never knocked off in three tries.

"We set it as a goal to be able to win in conference games on the road and we were able to do that," said Jones, whose team, overall, has won five in a row and 11 of its last 13.

Does this mean UH will get some of the national respect many associated with the program crave?

"I don't really care about that, but it's good for us," he said.

It would be excellent for the Warriors if Nevada can somehow beat Boise State on Saturday, because that would give Hawaii a share of the WAC championship.

"Hopefully, Nevada can do their part now," said senior guard Vince Manuwai, who helped bulldoze holes for 175 rushing yards, UH's biggest output on the ground this season. "But if that doesn't happen, everything's still positive. Finally beating Rice after four years. Finishing 7-1 in the WAC."

The Warriors also have four more games, including the Dec. 25 Hawaii Bowl, to look forward to. Rice finished a season in which it was always a bit short.

"That's been the whole thing," Owls coach Ken Hatfield said. "Against UTEP we lose on a 59-yard field goal. Fresno ... hit a little 5-yard pass and then everybody runs into each other and the guy goes 77 yards."

Yesterday, it was Houston Ala's fourth-down tackle of quarterback Greg Henderson for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-three at the Hawaii 11 with 31 seconds left.

Although UH gave up several big plays, its schemes to slow Rice's feared option offense worked.

"They converted a couple third down plays on the option, but the plays that hurt us were a screen, a reverse and a post pattern," Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "I bet they passed for more yards than they ran."

That's a bet he would lose (227 rushing, 183 passing), but only because of Marcus Battle's 60-yard touchdown run on a reverse with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third quarter. The score got Rice back into the game at 23-21 after three consecutive scores by Hawaii -- a 28-yard Justin Ayat field goal and touchdown passes of 8 yards to Jeremiah Cockheran and 17 to Britton Komine from Tim Chang -- put the Warriors in control of the game.

Hawaii regained momentum with Ayat's 21-yarder and Thero Mitchell's 3-yard run for his second TD. The latter, which was set up by Kelvin Millhouse's fourth interception of the season, came with 7:50 left in the game and gave Hawaii a comfortable 33-21 lead.

But Battle struck again, beating Millhouse and Hyrum Peters deep for a 54-yard TD pass from Henderson with 4:43 left.

Then a holding penalty (one of 11 flags for 99 yards against UH) negated a third-down pass completion from Chang to Komine that would have moved the chains, and Rice took over at its 17 with 1:52 left.

Ten plays and 78 yards later, Ala made the play of his life, in a city with which he shares his first name.

It was one of seven tackles-for-loss by the Warriors.

"Defensively, they did a great job," Manuwai said. "They stuck in there together. Scary, but as long as you see Hawaii up there with the 'W,' that's what it's all about for us."

On offense, the Warriors relied on short passing and running plays. They rarely tried to throw long.

"You've got to give them a couple different looks to throw them off," Chang said. "They know where we're going if we line up the way we have before. We have to play cat-and-mouse because they're so disciplined."

Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang congratulated running back Thero Mitchell, left, after Mitchell scored in the fourth quarter.

The past two years, Rice was the cat that toyed with Chang the mouse. But this is a different quarterback than the one who was intercepted eight times in those two losses.

"I've never seen anyone throw the ball like that," said Battle, who admired Chang from the sideline. "He has the quickest release I've ever seen."

Chang completed 35 of 64 passes for 369 yards and the two TD passes. He was intercepted once, by Clifford Sparks.

They were mostly short passes to Ilaoa, who played superbly except for a fumble that set up Battle's touchdown catch.

"They started backing off a lot more, giving us a four-deep look," Ilaoa said. "They gave us some yards, so we tried to make a quick catch and add some yards."

Mitchell started the scoring as his 4-yard run capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive.

"I think they were overplaying our passes and Coach Jones had some strategies coming in to be effective with our run game and decided to use it," said Mitchell, who carried five times for 75 yards and now has seven rushing touchdowns. "It can be effective, good balance with our passing. And that's just what happened. We were able to come in and run the ball some."

Mike Bass added 55 yards on 12 rushes, and Chang got the game's first first down on a tough 11-yard draw.

"Some of the things they were doing was giving us the run, so we had to take it," Jones said.

Rice fullback Robbie Beck had early success, staking the Owls to a 14-10 halftime lead with rushing TDs of 4 and 32 yards.

But, like last year, the team that led at intermission at home didn't hold on.

"It was like last year at Hawaii, when we won by making one more play than Hawaii," Hatfield said. "Last year, with 25 seniors, we made the plays."

Mitchell said he hopes the Warriors don't revert when he and the other current seniors aren't around next year.

"To have two consecutive winning seasons on the road is a big credit to the staff and the players we have here," he said. "Hopefully, it will become a trend and start a change for how people think about our program."






First quarter
HAW -- Mitchell 4 run (Ayat kick), 11:04.
RIC -- Beck 4 run (Landry kick), 4:52.

Second quarter
RIC -- Beck 32 run (Landry kick), 3:11.
HAW -- FG Ayat 28, :03.

Third quarter
HAW -- Cockheran 8 pass from Chang (kick failed), 8:49.
HAW -- Komine 17 pass from Chang (Ayat kick), 7:52.
RIC -- Battle 60 run (Landry kick), 6:45.
HAW -- FG Ayat 21, 3:44.

Fourth quarter
HAW -- Mitchell 3 run (Ayat kick) 7:50.
RIC -- Battle 54 pass from Henderson (Landry kick) 4:43.


RUSHING -- Hawaii: Mitchell 5-75, Bass 12-55, West 5-26, Chang 5-8, Team 1-(minus-4). Rice: Battle 1-60, Beck 8-41, Hawkins 15-38, White 7-25, Herm 7-23, Hatfield 2-18, Bailey 5-15, Henderson 6-7.

PASSING -- Hawaii: Chang 35-64-1-369. Rice: Herm 3-11-1-88, Henderson 4-7-0-95.

RECEIVING -- Hawaii: Ilaoa 10-108, Colbert 8-80, Komine 5-65, Gossett 5-61, Cockheran 3-31, Bass 3-15, Chang 1-9. Rice: Battle 5-133, Hawkins 1-37, White 1-13.

A 19,714.



W L Pct W L Pct Str

Boise State 7 0 1.000 10 1 .909 W9

Hawaii 7 1 .875 8 2 .800 W5

Fresno State 5 2 .714 6 5 .545 W2

San Jose State 4 3 .571 6 6 .500 W2

Nevada 4 3 .571 5 6 .455 L1

Rice 3 5 .375 4 7 .364 L2

LaTech 2 4 .333 3 7 .300 L12

SMU 2 5 .286 2 9 .182 W1

UTEP 1 6 .143 2 9 .182 L4

Tulsa 1 6 .143 1 10 .091 L3

Hawaii 33, Rice 28
San Jose State 49, Tulsa 38
Boise State 36, Louisiana Tech 10
SMU 42, UTEP 35
Fresno State 38, Nevada 30


Ala's big stop sealed UH's first win at Rice

Rice never gave up against Hawaii yesterday, but Warriors defensive end Houston Ala made sure the Owls' last-minute effort would go for naught as UH hung on for a 33-28 victory.

Quarterback Greg Henderson mixed passes and runs to guide his team from its own 17 with 1 minute, 52 seconds left to the Hawaii 11. Facing fourth-and-three with 31 seconds remaining in their season, the Owls went with their bread-and-butter play -- option left.

But Ala, coming on an inside stunt, wrapped up Henderson for a 4-yard loss, and UH had finally beaten Rice.

Ala said he did his own job, and a little bit more.

"I had the fullback, but I sealed the fullback, and came off and had the opportunity to get the quarterback," he said. "I came up and reacted to the ball. I had to make the play when it was time to make the play. When you have the opportunity, you have to make the play."

Dave Reardon, Star-Bulletin


Hot Cincinnati squad comes before 'Bama

If Hawaii starts thinking about the Crimson Tide a week early, the Warriors could end up crimson-faced.

Alabama comes to the islands Nov. 30, but UH has a date at Aloha Stadium with Cincinnati this Saturday.

The Bearcats (5-5, 4-2 Conference USA) won their third game in a row yesterday, knocking off visiting Houston 47-14, and keeping their league title hopes alive.

Cincinnati held Houston to 92 yards rushing, limiting Joffrey Reynolds, then the nation's fifth-leading rusher, to 76 yards.

The Cougars didn't score their second touchdown until late in the game.

Bearcats quarterback Gino Guidugli passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns.

In 1951 Cincinnati beat Hawaii 34-0, their only meeting.

Dave Reardon, Star-Bulletin

UH Athletics

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