By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAILUKU, Maui The college football season did not come to a traditional conclusion in yesterdays Hula Bowl at War Memorial Stadium.
It ended with the winning kicker - Ohio States Dan Stultz - doing the Pee-Wee Herman dance during timeouts.
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 Oahu.
|Kai quarterback Drew Brees tries and fails to avoid a sack in the first quarter of yesterdays Hula Bowl on Maui.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
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 teams 31-23 all-star victory over the Aina team.
Montrell Coleys 1-yard run completed the Kais 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 States 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 Utahs Steve Smith and Marylands 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 Beasleys 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.
Kalapinskis 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, dont drop the ball, " Kalapinski recalled.
Said Beasley: "If he dropped it, we would have had some words. I didnt 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 isnt fun. We knew 16 points werent a lot to overcome."
The Kai game plan was to increase the defensive pressure. Prohibited from blitzing by a gentlemans agreement, the defensive ends instead created the chaos with power moves from the perimeters. When the pass pocket collapsed, the Ainas 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 Stultzs 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. "Thats 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 Youngs 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. "Im so honored to be asked to sign," he said. "Ill stay out here all night and sign if they want me to."
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