2002: UH gift-wraps Tulane's victory
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
For Christmas, the University of Hawai'i football team received a heartbreak that was gift-wrapped in eight sacks.
Advertiser library photo Dec. 25, 2002
Hawai'i quarterback Shawn Withy-Allen (7) scrambled for yardage after replacing injured starter Tim Chang in the Warriors' 2002 bowl game at Aloha Stadium.
Advertiser library photo Dec. 25, 2002
The Warriors greeted the Green Wave with an animated Tongan dance during pre-game introductions. But 4 hours and 10 minutes later, the last dance was saved for the Green Wave.
"It's like Mardi Gras," defensive tackle Marlon Tickles said of the Green Wave's on-field celebration. "We knew we had a long flight back (to New Orleans), and we didn't want to be all somber on the plane, talking about 'woulda, shoulda, coulda.' We wanted to come out here to prove a point. ... Hey, we're not Grinches. We're not trying to steal anybody's Christmas. If we stole Christmas, man, I'm very sorry for the land of Hawai'i. We just wanted to have a happy Christmas for ourselves."
Tulane (8-5), representing Conference USA, did so with a defense that produced eight sacks, forced five fumbles, intercepted a pass and iced the victory with a safety.
The Green Wave took advantage of UH quarterback Tim Chang's absence and the Warriors' patch-work offensive line, of which guards Shayne Kajioka and Vince Manuwai were the only starting blockers playing their usual positions.
Early in the second quarter, Chang aggravated a thumb injury on his throwing hand. Chang, trying to scramble away from a manhunt, banged his right hand on a Green Wave defender while releasing a pass.
"It was kind of a freak, stupid accident," said Chang, noting X-rays did not show any serious injury.
Chang said there was immediate swelling, and he could not grip a football the rest of the game. "We thought about alternatives, but the best one was to rest and sit out this one," he said.
Chang departed, for good, with the Warriors leading 14-3. It was 14-6 at the intermission, when Tulane coach Chris Scelfo implored each player to make a difference.
"Coach said we had to do something to get our team lifted," Elpheage said. "We kind of came out flat."
Elpheage seized control. He fielded Mat McBriar's bouncing 42-yard punt at the Tulane 40, raced along the right sideline and kept going, completing a 60-yard return for a touchdown with 10:44 left in the third quarter.
"That was one of the turning points of the game," he said.
The second came on UH's next punt, which Elpheage parlayed into a 56-yard return, giving the Tulane possession at the UH 17.
"The guys blocked and all I did was run for daylight," Elpheage said. "As I was running, (the Warriors) were dropping like flies. I thanked my team for getting me an open spot."
Six plays later, quarterback J.P. Losman scored on a 1-yard sneak with 6:17 left in the third quarter. His ensuing two-point conversion run gave Tulane a 20-14 lead it would not relinquish.
"It's been a long week, dealing with the papers and stuff," Losman said. "I kind of got labeled as a guy who talks. But, you know, it wasn't anything like that. Really, I've got nothing but respect for the Hawai'i team. Man, they played great. They were such good sportsmen. But our guys just wanted it, man. We didn't come all of this way to lose. We knew in our hearts we would win, and luckily enough, we did."
Most of the credit went to Tulane defensive coordinator Eric Schumann, who decided to attack UH's run-and-shoot offense at the source the quarterback. Schumann dropped as many as seven defenders in pass coverage, then turned "The Funk" Tulane's defensive line loose on Chang and then his replacement, Shawn Withy-Allen.
Schumann knew the Warriors had pieced together an offensive line in the last few days. Center Lui Fuata missed the last game because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and left tackle Wayne Hunter was unavailable because of back pain. Right tackle Uriah Moenoa moved to left tackle, third-year sophomore Ryan Santos made his first collegiate start at right tackle, and second-year freshman Derek Faavi started his third consecutive game.
"With Chang going out, that naturally hurt them," Schumann said. "And they had a couple of offensive linemen going out. ... We were able to get some pressure and some hits on the quarterback."
Defensive tackle Roxie Shelvin said Tulane's defensive strategy was to "play hard, play smart and play fast. We wanted to get to the quarterback as quick as possible and make him make bad throws."
Losman said he felt empathy for UH's quarterbacks.
"Oh, yeah, our defensive linemen disrupt me quite a few times in practice," said Losman, noting they often ignore the practice rule that prohibits hitting anyone wearing a red jersey. "They get me rattled up. They don't care if I've got the red jersey. They're right in my face, talking to me. They don't care."
|How they scored
HAWAI'I 7 7 0 14 28
TULANE 0 6 20 10 36
UHThero Mitchell 1 run (Justin Ayat kick)
UHJosh Galeai 2 run (Ayat kick)
TUFG Seth Marler 23
TUFG Marler 37
TULynaris Elpheage 60 punt return (pass failed)
TUJ.P. Losman 1 run (Losman run)
TUMewelde Moore 25 run (pass failed)
UHJustin Colbert 57 pass from Shawn Withy-Allen (Ayat kick)
TULosman 3 run (Damarcus Davis pass from Losman)
UHColbert 31 pass from Withy-Allen (Ayat kick)
Attendance35,513 (tickets distributed), 25,000 (estimate).