Warrior Report

Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar was brought down during last night's game. Pinegar had 242 passing yards.

Bulldogs’ futility
against UH continues

Things were looking up for Fresno State late in the first quarter and early in the second during last night's 55-28 football loss to Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.

After spotting the Warriors a 10-0 lead, the Bulldogs delivered a handful of crunching hits, and they not only stuck around for a little while, they also gained a 14-10 lead and nearly took control.

But instead of chalking up a rare victory at Hawaii, Fresno State's futility against the Warriors continued. The Bulldogs have lost four of the last five meetings, including the last three. Fresno hasn't won in Hawaii since 1994 (8-13 overall in Honolulu), and coach Pat Hill dropped to 2-5 against the Warriors since arriving at Fresno in 1997.

The aforementioned early blows delivered by Bulldogs linebackers Manuel Sanchez, Bryce McGill and Marc Dailey and end Claude Sanders won't make the highlight reels, but they were hard, momentum-stopping sticks that gave the rest of the team a reason to believe.

"I felt really good at 14-10," Hill said. "But we got behind and tried to claw back into it and couldn't. We've played two games in a row against teams with their backs against the wall (at Colorado State last week) and now we're in a must-win situation next week (at home against Rice). But if we finish strong, we can still be WAC co-champions."

Paul Pinegar's touchdown passes to Bernard Berrian and Mark Wood allowed the visitors to spurt past the Warriors. Sanchez set up the second score by jarring Hawaii's Se'e Poumele and holding him up long enough for defensive end Brian Morris to arrive and strip the ball. Cornerback Awan Diles completed the play by recovering the fumble and returning it 24 yards.

But all of that Fresno State resurgence was temporary, and things began to unravel quickly. Slowly but surely, the Bulldogs' defensive stops weren't quite as intimidating. Instead of head-on collisions, Hawaii's run-and-shoot receivers got more and more glancing blows.

And then there was the matter of that running back -- the Warriors' West Keliikipi, who threw a wrench into the Bulldogs' defensive plans by pounding through for big chunks of yardage.

"They had 28 unanswered points and that killed us," said Sanchez, an outside linebacker who was responsible for the middle on passing situations, which is nearly every play. "They kept hitting that short crosser and it was frustrating me. I was assigned to the quarterback and he was never going to run, so I dropped back into coverage.

"We were up to the challenge for a while, hitting back and making plays, but then we didn't get the job done late in that second quarter."

After allowing Hawaii to drive 74 yards for a TD and a 17-14 lead, Fresno began to make tempo-killing mistakes. First, Brett Visintainer's 37-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Nkeruwem Tony Akpan. Then, quarterback Paul Pinegar coughed up a fumble when he was hit by Hawaii's Keani Alapa and Lui Fuga recovered. Hawaii capitalized with touchdowns after both of those plays for a commanding 31-14 lead.

Things got worse. Pinegar's makeshift offensive line couldn't stop Hawaii's Travis LaBoy from getting in for two sacks on Fresno's next possession.

All of these mishaps made it possible for Hawaii to begin to run away, making Fresno's two second-half TD drives moot.


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