Quick-strike Warriors cruise to victory
|UH vs. UNLV photo gallery|
|Video: June Jones' post-game press conference|
|||Ilaoa in rare 100-yard form|
|||Reserves get to play in blowout|
|||Defense steps up to make big plays against UNLV|
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
Dominating from the pregame haka to the singing of the alma mater, the University of Hawai'i football team rolled to a 42-13 rout of UNLV last night in Aloha Stadium.
Before 28,173 — the third-smallest UH home opener in three decades — the Warriors relied on inspiration and perspiration to improve to 1-1.
The Rebels, who have lost 11 consecutive road games, fell to 1-2.
"We did what we were supposed to do," said UH running back Nate Ilaoa, who rushed nine times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. "It was a lovely thing."
The Warriors threw multiple problems at the Rebels, who rarely guessed correctly.
In 2 1/2 quarters of work, Colt Brennan completed 24 of 35 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns.
Ilaoa, who is 5 feet 9 and 250 pounds, and 285-pound running back Reagan Mauia ran — hard — into the heart of the 3-3-5 defense until the Rebels were ready to tap out.
And the UH defense turned the Rebels' offense into a Rocky Horror Show. Quarterback Rocky Hinds, playing on a wounded knee, was held to 13-of-37 passing and 166 yards.
The Rebels' first touchdown came when the Warriors had only nine defenders on the field.
"The players did a great job," UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "They knew what to do. I promise you, by the time we got off the bus, our job as coaches was done. I just watched. It was fun to watch."
The program began during warmups, when the Warriors performed the haka, a Maori war dance, in the Halawa drizzle.
"It's a Polynesian tradition that people on our team take seriously," slotback Davone Bess said. "It's a chance to take all of the anger and excitement we have inside and get it out. It really gets us going."
And the Warriors wasted little time, using less than eight minutes to race to a 14-0 lead. Ryan Grice-Mullins caught a pass in the left flat, then zipped past safety Daryl Forte to complete a 7-yard scoring play on the Warriors' opening drive.
"We wanted to come out striking," Grice-Mullins said. "It felt good to score the early touchdown. Scoring early sets the tone, and it usually sets the tone to a good night."
On their next possession, the Warriors drove 68 yards in six plays, with Bess punctuating it with a leaping catch for a 7-yard score.
"I did my squats this summer," Bess said. "Actually, it's second nature. If you see the ball, you have to go get it."
The stunningly quick deficit forced the Rebels to abandon their original balanced plan of mixing option runs and passes. The health of Hinds also contributed to the modifications.
Last week against Iowa State, Hinds exited early in the second quarter after suffering a sprained right knee. He did not practice Monday and Tuesday, but resumed workouts on Wednesday.
Still, Hinds, who has run 100 meters in 10.4 seconds, admittedly was not at his best.
"I wasn't 100 percent, but I played as hard as I could," he said.
While Hinds, who is 6 feet 5 and 225 pounds, often was able to buy time with scrambles, he was inefficient on option plays. He never had a legitimate rushing attempt — his three credited rushes were on sacks — and the Warriors sniffed out the weakness.
UH often brought up the two outside linebackers, creating a five-man front, which was intended to bracket Hinds' play area.
"We knew he was a runner," defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis said. "We've been watching films on him for two weeks. All we had to do was keep him contained, keep him in the box. It wasn't easy. He's so fast he keeps you on your toes. He was running all over the place (on pass plays). I felt I was running a 40-yard dash on every play."
The Warriors also received a boost from inside linebacker Brad Kalilimoku, who started in place of injured Solomon Elimimian (sprained right knee). Kalilimoku, an inside linebacker last year who practiced at strong safety from spring practice until last week, doubles as the Warriors' nickelback. Kalilimoku was able to rotate between playing inside linebacker and defensive back without forcing the Warriors to substitute.
"It was fun," he said. "I could play a lot different places. I played where the coaches told me to play."
Kalilimoku, and his defensive teammates, also followed the lead of free safety Leonard Peters, who was playing despite a broken rib cartilage.
On UNLV's first possession, Peters leaped to break up a fourth-down pass.
"Trust me, I thought I had angels carrying me up because my ribs were hurting the whole game," said Peters, who also scored on a 33-yard interception return.
Inside linebacker Adam Leonard, who made UH's defensive calls, said: "Leonard Peters and the other seniors inspired us. We know the pain he's going through, and all of the things he's going through to be out there. For him to play through that, to play for us, he's a real hero. We fed off that."
And Ilaoa proved to be inspiration for the offense.
Ilaoa, who suffered a concussion in the season opener two weeks ago, this time left the Rebels dizzy. He caught three passes off slip screens — lobs over on-rushing defenders — and turned one running path into his personal contra-flow lane.
Most of his rushing yards came on Tampa Right, a stretch play in which left guard Hercules Satele pulls to the right as the lead blocker.
"It was an honor to block for him," Satele said.
Vegas vacationHAWAI'I 42
Smallest crowds for a UH football home opener at Aloha Stadium
22,708 TEXAS A&I 1976
26,532 NEW MEXICO 1977
28,173 UNLV 2006
31,510 MINNESOTA 1997
32,946 RICE 2001
33, 804 ARIZONA 1998
34,838 BOSTON COLLEGE 1996
35,624 FLORIDA ATLANTIC 2004
36,844 APPALACHIAN ST. 2003
37,986 EASTERN ILLINOIS 2002
Note: Turnstile counts
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.