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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dickerson's TD run sets tone

 •  Warrior wipeout

By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's Ross Dickerson had just one chance to return a kickoff last night and he made the best of it.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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In his previous two games wins at Fresno State and New Mexico State Ross Dickerson caught 16 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

But that wasn't good enough to unseat Ryan Grice-Mullins at right slotback.

The senior earned the starting nod at right wideout out of training camp but was moved to the slot when Grice-Mullins, a 1,000-yard receiver last season, went down with an ankle injury.

In his four starts at the "Y," he accounted for 362 yards on 28 grabs and five scores.

Last night, Dickerson returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the second of his career. Kicker Tino Amacio's other two kickoffs were away from Dickerson, both returned by reserve linebacker Victor Fergerstrom.

"Special teams was on it," said Dickerson. "We practice hard every week; that's what coach preaches in the locker room ... out-hit your opponent, and that's what we did tonight."

On the return, Dickerson, who took the ball from the goal line, cut to the left, found a lane between his blockers and went untouched the rest of the way.

"We only have three returns: left, right and middle," said Dennis McKnight, who coordinates the kickoff returns. "Ross Dickerson's the No. 1 guy in the WAC and the kids take pride in that. They made a commitment tonight to 'let's get one to the house' and they gave Ross a chance, and he did his job."

Dickerson had a good feeling about it all along.

"We watched a lot of film on them and we saw they weren't disciplined on the left side," he said. "Coach told us that we'd have a chance to return it, so that was the game plan and it came out perfect."

His only regret was not getting another chance. "I was feeling it," he said. "If they had kicked it to me, the way my team was blocking for me, we would have had another one."

He admitted the unit may have fed off the pre-game introductions. "It made the team recognize that the kickoffs and kick return and everything on special teams is important," he said. UH usually introduces either the starting offense or defense.

McKnight recognized the importance of the return as well. "There's an invisible guy out there on the field: Mr. Momentum, and it's up to special teams to get him on the sideline, then the offense and defense to keep him there," he said.

Dickerson also returned a 100-yard kickoff against Appalachian State in the season-opener in 2003.

"He's just a great player; I'm happy for him," said McKnight. "Everything he's had to do move inside, play outside, return the ball he's just a great kid. I love him."

As for coming off the bench on offense, he didn't mind. "It doesn't matter. (Grice-Mullins) is just another weapon, an addition to our team and me coming off the bench makes no matter at all because we're still contributing. We're still one offense and we're still one team trying to get out there and win the WAC championship."

Dickerson caught two passes for 57 yards, including a 50-yarder.