Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Kai rallies to 31-23 victory in Hula Bowl

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

WAILUKU, Maui — The college football season did not come to a traditional conclusion in yesterday’s Hula Bowl at War Memorial Stadium.

It ended with the winning kicker - Ohio State’s Dan Stultz - doing the Pee-Wee Herman dance during timeouts.

Kai quarterback Drew Brees tries — and fails — to avoid a sack in the first quarter of yesterday’s Hula Bowl on Maui.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

It ended with organizers puzzled and angry over the mixup in which the nationally televised game was shown live on Maui but blacked out on O

And it ended with players from both sides shaking hands and signing autographs while a Cher impersonator lip-synced on a moveable stage decorated with plastic mountains.

Yes, it was cheesy. But it also was entertaining and, even more so, "it was just a lot of fun," said Stultz, whose 32-yard field goal with 12:54 left decided the Kai team’s 31-23 all-star victory over the Aina team.

Montrell Coley’s 1-yard run completed the Kai’s rally from a 23-7 halftime deficit.

The game, which featured players from across the country, was played before what promoters announced as a capacity crowd. War Memorial Stadium seats between 16,000 (local reporters’ estimates) and 23,719 (promoters’ estimates).


"The greatest thing," said Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, who coached the Aina, "is how Maui supported it. They said they would be there and they were there."

The game could be subdivided into several parts. The Aina team, which included five University of Hawaii players, dominated the first half.

Kris Birkholz of Texas Tech kicked three field goals, from 33, 45 and 25 yards, and quarterback Jonathan Beasley of Kansas State teamed with Utah’s Steve Smith and Maryland’s Matt Kalapinski on breathtaking scoring passes to boost the üina.

Smith corkscrewed Oregon State cornerback Keith Heyward-Johnson with a juke-and-sprint move, then hauled in Beasley’s 40-yard pass. Smith raced into the end zone, discarding his helmet, before leaping into thestands. While sitting with fans, Smith watched the referees flag him for excessively celebrating the touchdown.

Kalapinski’s touchdown was equally spectacular. Beasley, barely escaping a manhunt, lofted a pass to a wide-open Kalapinski, who had curled around the defensive coverage.

"All I kept thinking was, Please, please, don’t drop the ball,’ " Kalapinski recalled.

Said Beasley: "If he dropped it, we would have had some words. I didn’t almost get killed to have him drop the ball."

On the sidelines, the Kai players and coaches were in a daze. In the locker room at halftime, they were in a rage.

"This is supposed to be a fun game," Purdue quarterback Drew Brees said. "But losing isn’t fun. We knew 16 points weren’t a lot to overcome."

The Kai game plan was to increase the defensive pressure. Prohibited from blitzing by a gentleman’s agreement, the defensive ends instead created the chaos with power moves from the perimeters. When the pass pocket collapsed, the Aina’s offense went flat. The üina turned the ball over four times in the second half.

The first turnover came when wide receiver Robert Kilow bobbled a pass as he fell to the ground. With Kilow flat on his back, Corey Nelson stole the ball — it was ruled an interception — and gingerly ran 40 yards before being tackled.

"I kept waiting for the whistle to blow," Nelson said. "That was the slowest run in the history of the Hula Bowl. I though the quarter would end before I stopped running."

Instead, the momentum turned. The Kai scored on its next two possessions, closing to 23-21, then went ahead for good on Stultz’s field goal. As the ball sailed between the uprights, Stultz began dancing and high-fiving his way to the sideline.

"I like having fun out there," he said. "That’s the way I keep loose. It was a great atmosphere. Sometimes emotions take over a little bit."

That was the case after the game, when üina coach LaVell Edwards, who announced his retirement as Brigham Young’s head coach, bid aloha. "This is a great place for it to end," Edwards said.

UH defensive tackle Doug Sims also got smoke in his eyes as he signed autographs. "I’m so honored to be asked to sign," he said. "I’ll stay out here all night and sign if they want me to."

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