Warrior Report

Hawaii's Keani Alapa tried to bring down Alabama's Brodie Croyle last night at Aloha Stadium. Lance Samuseva, at left, got the sack and was credited with the safety.

Defense does
it together

The Warriors go back to basics
to stop the Crimson Tide after
a rough first quarter

It was an effort that brought a grown man to tears.

After giving up big plays early in yesterday's game with Alabama, the Hawaii defense held its ground against the Crimson Tide and provided the spark that sent the Warriors to a 37-29 win over their Southeastern Conference opponent at Aloha Stadium.

"They made me cry throughout the game," UH defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "Not that I'm amazed, I was just proud to see them show everyone that it's not a fluke, it's for real."

The Warriors gave up 409 yards to Alabama, but shut down the Crimson Tide after going down 14-0 early in the second quarter. Hawaii forced three turnovers and sacked Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle six times, including one for a safety in the third quarter.

Hawaii defensive coordinator George Lumpkin said it was the most complete effort by the unit, as all three levels -- defensive line, linebackers and secondary -- complemented each other and the Warriors avenged last year's 21-16 loss to Alabama.

The line occupied the offensive linemen, allowing the linebackers to flow to the ball carriers. And the secondary locked up the Alabama receivers to give the guys up front time to run down Croyle.

"Last year we didn't make as many plays on defense," cornerback Abraham Elimimian said. "It was a great effort by every guy, D-tackles to linebackers to the defensive backs."

Linebacker Ikaika Curnan led UH with 15 tackles, including three for losses. Defensive tackle Lance Samuseva finished with seven tackles and two sacks. Elimimian made key plays with a fumble recovery and an interception.

"They played the way we always knew they could play," Lumpkin said. "They played hard, they played smart and once they realized that they were as good they were, they settled down."


Hawaii's Kelvin Millhouse brought down Alabama's Zach Fletcher last night at Aloha Stadium.

The Warriors opened the game by mixing up their defensive fronts to counter the Crimson Tide's hefty offensive line by bringing an extra man to the line of scrimmage. But after giving up big plays on screen passes, the Warriors switched back to their base front.

"The base is what we've been playing all year," UH linebacker Keani Alapa said. "We have so many reps at it that we really know how to play it well. We went to a different package a couple of times and they got big plays on us, so we just went back to the base and we played well."

After giving up 173 yards in the first quarter, the Warriors' defense tightened in the second, surrendering only 79. The Crimson Tide's output dropped to 48 yards in the third quarter.

The UH offense got rolling and tied the game in the second quarter and the defense gave Hawaii its first lead in six quarters against the Tide when Samuseva hammered Croyle in the end zone for a safety, giving UH a 16-14 lead at the 9:23 mark of the third quarter.

Alapa forced Croyle up in the pocket and into the arms of Samuseva.

"I just saw a little opening and I hit the quarterback and he spun off and Lance was right there to make an awesome play," Alapa said. "He made the play, he did the job."

Another key swing came after Alabama's Roman Harper returned a blocked field goal 73 yards to give the Tide a 21-16 lead with 6:12 left in the third quarter.

Alabama got the ball back and appeared to be driving to a backbreaking score. But David Gilmore punched the ball out of the hands of Shaud Williams and Elimimian recovered for UH.

But the Crimson Tide threatened again after a blocked punt gave them the ball at the UH 19. A sack by Curnan pushed them back and after Brian Bostick missed a field-goal attempt, the UH offense took the lead for good.

"I thought the key play of the game was when they blocked our punt and got nothing out of it," UH coach June Jones said. "That was the difference in the game."

Elimimian came up with an interception in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors protect the lead. Travis LaBoy added another pick when he caught a pass that was tipped by defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga.

"It just seemed like every time (Alabama) looked they were going to get a little bit of life, the defense came up with a play and started understanding how good they are," Lumpkin said.


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