Warrior Report

Hawaii's Gerald Welch scored the first touchdown of last night's game against Fresno State. The Warriors improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the WAC with a big win over the Bulldogs.

Back on track

The Warriors bounces back
from last week’s loss with
a big win over rival Fresno

The Hawaii football team has spent most of its halftimes this year wondering what just happened.

Last night UH conquered its second-quarter blahs problem, and in a big way. Now, can the Warriors use their 55-28 victory over Fresno State as a jump-start into the second half of the season?

Right tackle Brandon Eaton thinks so.

"This could be a big springboard," he said. "We needed this. We lost a game (at Tulsa) we shouldn't have last week. Tonight we just stuck to what we were supposed to do."

UH was outscored in the second period of every one of its five previous games, for a total of 83-26. Last night, a turnstile crowd announced at 36,622 saw the Warriors bomb the Bulldogs 28-7 in the 15 minutes before halftime on their way to their fourth consecutive victory over their Western Athletic Conference rivals from California.

Hawaii (3-3, 2-1 WAC) scored 35 consecutive points during its biggest offensive display of the season, and the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-1) lost for the fifth straight time in Hawaii. UH outgained FSU, 549 yards to 382, and the defense registered five sacks.

Hawaii's Tim Chang exceeded 10,000 career passing yards in last night's win. Chang finished the night with 10,274 yards.

The Warriors did not commit a turnover, compared to one for the Bulldogs.

"I never would've guessed we would've rushed for more yards than them (145 to 140)," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "Our defense rose to the occasion and stopped the run."

And Fresno could not stop the pass.

UH quarterback Tim Chang threw five touchdown passes while completing 40 of 60 for 353 yards.

"You could say we suffered from a second-quarter jinx," Chang said. "So putting points up like that, that was impressive as a team. But we also had really good defense and special teams, too."

Running back West Keliikipi (67 yards rushing, five catches for 34 yards) and slotbacks Gerald Welch (nine catches for 115 yards) and Chad Owens (seven receptions, 62 yards) were among Chang's favorite playmates, but Hawaii spread it around, with seven players scoring.

And the Warriors, who won their sixth consecutive home conference game, got plenty of big plays from defense and special teams.

Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan's blocked field goal at 6:56 of the second quarter prevented Fresno State from tying the game at 17.

"Anytime you get big plays from the kicking game, it's huge," Jones said.

Akpan said through watching tape of the Bulldogs earlier in the week, he thought this might be the game where his 6-foot-7 frame and basketball leaping ability might transfer into a blocked kick.

"I told my teammates give me a big push (on the line) and we might get one this game," said Akpan, who has practiced the past month with a heavy heart; he still doesn't know if he will be able to return to Nigeria for his father's funeral Friday.

Akpan's block allowed the Warriors to continue a five-touchdown scoring spree that was also aided by two Travis LaBoy sacks and a fumble recovery by Lui Fuga (forced by Keani Alapa).

After the block, UH drove from its 14 to the FSU end zone in seven plays, with Keliikipi rushing the final 9 yards for the score. He also had a tackle-busting 29-yard run on the drive, which was also fueled by two Chang-to-Clifton Herbert hookups of 9 and 31 yards.

Fuga's recovery of Paul Pinegar's fumble at the Fresno 16 came on the next play from scrimmage, and two plays later Chang threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Britton Komine with 2:38 remaining before halftime.

Then Fresno State punted after LaBoy's sacks in the same series, and Hawaii got the ball at its own 46. Michael Brewster's 1-yard TD pass from Chang increased the lead to 38-14 with 21 seconds to go in the half.

Hawaii coach June Jones shook hands with Fresno State coach Pat Hill after last night's game at Aloha Stadium.

The way the game started, it looked like the Warriors and Bulldogs would trade big plays all night. But FSU coach Pat Hill said his team isn't designed for high-scoring games.

"Hawaii outplayed us in all three phases of the game from the second quarter on," Hill said. "We're not built for going score-for-score with teams in games like this," Hill said. "We weren't built for that, even with (2002 NFL No. 1 draft pick) David Carr."

John West returned the opening kickoff from his own end zone to the Warriors' 48, and UH took a 7-0 lead when Chang completed a 22-yard scoring pass to wide-open Welch 1:29 into the game.

Welch, one of three receivers lined up on the left side of the formation, took advantage of a busted coverage by Fresno State.

LaBoy recovered a fumble by FSU's Dwayne Wright less than a minute later, and Hawaii had the ball at the Bulldogs' 41. The Warriors' drive stalled at the 14, and Justin Ayat kicked a 31-yard field goal. UH led 10-0 at 10:11 of the first quarter.

Chang went over 10,000 passing yards for his career during the drive with a 13-yard pass to Keliikipi.

Fresno State fired back to close to 10-7 at 8:36 with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Pinegar to tight end Mark Wood, who slipped behind Hawaii's secondary. Two plays prior, wide receiver Adam Jennings took a handoff and broke away for 57 yards to the UH 23.

Pinegar hit Bernard Berrian for a 19-yard touchdown pass at 12:50 of the second quarter, and FSU took a 14-10 lead.

The score was set up by a Se'e Poumele fumble, caused by Brian Morris and returned 24 yards to the Hawaii 36 by Awan Diles.

Hawaii regained the lead, as Chang capped a steady 74-yard drive with a 9-yard TD pass to Owens, making the score 17-14 at 9:56 before intermission. Owens was playing in his first game since a two-game suspension for missing the team flight home from Las Vegas last month.

UH played without starting wide receiver Jeremiah Cockheran (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (knee sprain).

Owens' second TD pass from Chang went for 5 yards with 9:08 left in the third quarter, expanding the lead to 45-14.

Bryson Sumlin's 1-yard run at 6:26 of the third finally ended the scoring drought for the Bulldogs.

Ayat made a 27-yard field goal with 12:00 left, making it 48-21.

Fresno State closed to 48-28 when Pinegar threw a 2-yard TD pass to Alec Greco with 5:32 remaining.

UH got those points back when David Gilmore scored on a 43-yard pass from Chad Kapanui out of punt formation with 4:28 left.

"Coach gave me the call and said take it if it was there," Kapanui said. "It was wide open."


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