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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, September 6, 2004

UH defeat is one for the books

 •  Warriors' depth at slotback takes hit

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

The University of Hawai'i football team has suffered much more lopsided losses than Saturday night's stunning 35-28 overtime loss to upstart Florida Atlantic, but perhaps few more tormenting.

When it comes to painful losses, the memory of which can linger for years, this one was right up there on the list of frustrating setbacks in the Division I-A era.

1. BYU 13, UH 3. Nov. 14, 1981. For one glorious week UH was on the verge of so much. It was off to a 7-0 start, nationally ranked for the first time (17th), on the edge of its first NCAA bowl invitation, had an ABC national telecast and a Sports Illustrated team on hand to write its rags-to-riches story.

Then, it was unable to score a touchdown, lost to BYU and suffered a hangover loss to Pacific the next week. And SI spiked the story.

2. BYU 18, UH 13. Sept. 22, 1984. After five consecutive losses to the Cougars, victory was almost in hand — until Walter Murray, open in the end zone, was unable to hold onto a pass with 37 seconds left.

The game, as it turned out, was as close as anybody came to beating BYU in its 13-0 national championship season and cost UH a share of the WAC title.

3. BYU 41, UH 38. Sept. 11, 1993. Coming off the magic of its 11-2, Holiday Bowl, WAC co-title season of 1992, UH went into the Cougars' lair with an opportunity to supplant BYU's mastery of the conference.

Instead, a series of final-minute breakdowns, including a 21-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the left upright with 39 seconds remaining, gave BYU a chance to win it with a 40-yard field goal with 23 seconds left.

UH never recovered, losing five more games that season and spiraling to the first of six consecutive non-winning seasons.

4. Florida Atlantic 35, UH 28 (OT). Sept. 4, 2004. A I-AA team, 22-point underdog traveling 4,800 miles... Well, you know the story by now.

5. Portland State 45, UH 20. Sept. 9, 2000. Fresh from a triumphant 9-4 season in head coach June Jones' first season, the Warriors looked forward to more of the same in 2000 — until I-AA Portland State, one of Jones' alma maters, shattered all illusions and UH never recovered that season, going 3-9.

6. Texas-El Paso 17, UH 10. Oct. 4, 1980. Bottom Ten perennial UTEP came to town to win its only game in a 25-game spread over three years (1-11 that season).

7. Notre Dame 23, UH 22. Nov. 29, 1997. An opportunity to give a tough (3-9) season a feel-good ending vanished with 5 seconds left on the Fighting Irish's game-winning field goal.

8. Texas A&E 43, UH 9. Sept. 13, 1975. People wondered if the place was haunted when the NAIA Javelinas spoiled the grand opening of Aloha Stadium in a big way.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.