Defensive line dominates with 7 sacks


POSTED: Sunday, November 23, 2008

A weakness in September is now one of Hawaii's strengths.

And that wasn't good news for Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle.

The Vandals sophomore found himself swamped in a sea of black and green for much of last night's game as Hawaii's defense recorded a season-high seven sacks.

Through seven games, the Warriors had only eight sacks, but a rested and healthy defensive line has turned that statistic on its ear in recent weeks. Over the last four games, Hawaii has more than doubled that number with 19, and that has played a huge part in getting the team on track to secure a Hawaii Bowl berth with a win in either of its last two games.

“;It's been a sore spot for us,”; Hawaii defensive ends coach Dave Aranda said. “;We've been working real hard for a game like this all season long where we get guys playing free and having fun and letting loose. It was good to see.”;

Seniors Keala Watson and Josh Leonard led the charge with two sacks each, blowing up the interior of the Vandals offensive line repeatedly. Both saw limited playing time two weeks ago against New Mexico State, and the long layoff between games had them antsy to get back on the field.

“;We were all jacked up ready to play coming off a bye week where we were sitting around watching football instead of playing,”; Watson said. “;This week we brought the mentality that we all wanted to make something happen.”;

Rattled by Hawaii's consistent pressure, Enderle began to make mistakes even when he had time, and the Warriors secondary took advantage with three interceptions, including one by Jameel Dowling to open the second quarter that was returned for an apparent touchdown before replay showed he stepped out of bounds at the 2.

Hawaii had two picks and four sacks in the quarter that led to a 28-10 halftime lead.

“;I would think (that's the best we've played),”; Watson said. “;A lot of guys have gotten a lot of playing time and we've gotten comfortable at our positions. Now guys are always fresh and we can make a lot of plays.”;

Five different players were in on the sack party, with C.J. Allen-Jones and Fale Laeli getting in on the action as well with one each in the fourth quarter.

Hawaii hurried Enderle seven more times and had a season-high 13 tackles for loss, including a huge stand on fourth and 1 early in the third quarter that ended any hope of a Vandals comeback.

The only problem for the defense came on the first drive of the game. Hawaii looked lifeless on Idaho's opening possession, letting the Vandals march 74 yards in 14 plays that took more than 7 minutes and ended in an Enderle touchdown pass.

“;A lot of stuff that we were preparing for they didn't do,”; said defensive end David Veikune, who had a sack last night to give him 6 1/2 in his last four games. “;It took us a drive or two to get used to it and then we got it going.”;

The Vandals had only 145 total yards from then on.