Northwestern running back Noah Herron took off against the Hawaii defense in last night's game. Herron rushed for 90 yards on 27 carries for the Wildcats.

Northwestern runs
out of power

Northwestern football players came into Aloha Stadium last night with the idea of showing Hawaii what hard-nosed, Big Ten-style football is all about.

They didn't get their wish, despite a brilliant start that included early leads of 13-0 and 20-7.

What started so good for the Wildcats (6-6) ended up in a season-ending 49-41 loss. A near-complete collapse resulted in Hawaii's 28-point spree and it locked Northwestern out of next month's Music City Bowl in Nashville.

"Still, we were never more than two scores out," Wildcats coach Randy Walker said. "That's just one score and an onside kick behind. We kept in the game the whole way and battled for 60 minutes just like we've done all year."

Fortunately for the Wildcats, they came out of the tailspin and made some big plays, including T.J. Jones' blocked punt and 18-yard return to trim the deficit to 8 points with 6:55 left.

Later, they drove to the Hawaii 20, but their whole season came to an end when Brett Basanez's pass appeared to hit the turf, but was picked off by Leonard Peters at the Warriors 11.

"I don't think it was even close," Walker said. "I really can't believe they called it an interception, but I'm not calling the game."

It's hard to imagine Northwestern starting any better. Interceptions by Tim McGarigle and Marvin Ward made it seem like the Warriors were in way over their heads.

Then, special teams player Scott Brownley recovered a Wildcats kickoff left untouched by Hawaii, and it looked like a rout was in the making.

The Wildcats started to break down when linebacker John Pickens flattened Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang with a late hit out of bounds. Chang was shaken up when he collided with the Wildcats' metal bench.

That poor decision by Pickens cost Northwestern more than the 15 penalty yards. The hit was like punching a hornet's nest. Chang got serious, rallying the crowd and his teammates.

"I thought it was a good call, certainly" Walker said. "He (Pickens) didn't have any bad intentions. He was running full speed and sometimes it's hard to tell where the sidelines are."

Offensively, the Wildcats were forced to play catch-up in the second half. They moved the ball and desperately tried to keep pace, but the Chang to Chad Owens connection completely baffled their defense.

"We let Tim Chang get on a roll and once he caught it (the momentum) and felt it, we couldn't stop him," Walker said.

Another one of Northwestern's final downers -- and a fitting one that sums up its inability to show off its blue-collar style -- came early in the fourth quarter when leading rusher Noah Herron was stopped for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal from Hawaii's 1.

Wildcats sports information director Mike Wolf said many of the players, especially the seniors, were crying in the closed locker room after the game.

"We knew what (a bowl game) we were playing for," Walker said. "We knew we had to win. It's real tough, but we'll bounce back next year."

Strong safety Dominique Price is one of those seniors who missed out on a bowl game.

"It never crossed my mind that we wouldn't be playing again this year, but it finally sunk in when the zeros hit on the clock. It's difficult to think about."



E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com