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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, October 26, 2002

Warrior defensive backs sparked 4th-quarter rally

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Through three quarters, the University of Hawai'i football team's secondary was a primary concern.

In one third-quarter series, left cornerback Kelvin Millhouse was burned on a 39-yard pass and, three plays later, right cornerback Abraham Elimimian, angered after yielding a touchdown pass, uprooted a pylon and tossed it. The safeties also had difficulty covering the Fresno State tight ends.

But that all changed in the decisive fourth quarter, when strong safety Hyrum Peters made consecutive open-field tackles to force a punt, Elimimian helped slow the Bulldogs' perimeter running game and Millhouse intercepted two passes.

Millhouse's first interception set up the Warriors' go-ahead touchdown and his second ended the Bulldogs' final comeback hopes.

"I'm really proud of Kelvin," UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "He got beat (on the 39-yard pass), but he came right back. That shows his character."

Peters remembered telling Millhouse, "You're going to win this game for us."

"That meant a lot," Millhouse recalled. "My fellow defensive backs had confidence in me, and that gave me confidence."

Millhouse said defensive backs are taught to induce amnesia after making a bad play. "You have to forget about it," he said.

But when the Bulldogs tried to come back with a fade pass similar to the 39-yarder, Millhouse experienced total recall. "I couldn't believe they would throw the same route, but they did," he said. "The ball was up there and this time I made sure I got it."

Of his second interception, Millhouse said, "I had good position on the receiver. I turned back and looked for the ball and it was there, so I grabbed it."

Millhouse said playing cornerback is "more of a mental game than anything. You have to stay focused."

That wasn't the case with Elimimian, who had a rare outburst when the sideline referee ruled that Bulldog Marque Davis tightroped the back of the end zone.

"He was out of bounds," Elimimian said. "The back ref saw it, but the side guy didn't see it and gave (the touchdown) to him."

At that point, Elimimian grabbed the pylon.

"I'm going out there trying to be competitive," he said. "It hurts when I get cheated out of something that I know is wrong. I wanted the (national television) viewers to know it was out of bounds."

Television replays were inconclusive. Lempa said, "Abe has to control himself a little better. That's not good, because he could get thrown out of the game."

But when asked about Elimimian's throwing form, Lempa smiled, and said, "No comment."