Posted at 11:10 p.m., Saturday, December 1, 2007
Seattle Times: UH-Washington game story
By Bob Condotta
The 49,666 fans packed into Aloha Stadium waiting to see the biggest victory in Hawaii history.
The doubts about whether Washington could pull off the upset after a devastating loss in the Apple Cup a week ago, especially after a brutal travel day Friday when the Huskies' flight left Seattle about seven hours later than scheduled.
And maybe most notably, the rising chorus wondering if the Huskies might not be better off with some new coaches, maybe even a new head coach.
Instead, the Huskies (4-9) blew a 21-0 first-quarter lead late Saturday night it was 28-7 in the second quarter to suffer one of their most heart-wrenching defeats of the season, 35-28, one that could call into question the future of the coaching staff, possibly including head coach Tyrone Willingham.
After Hawaii scored to go ahead with 44 seconds left, Washington drove to Hawaii's 4-yard line with 20 seconds left on a 49-yard pass from Jake Locker to Marcel Reece. But on second-and-goal at the 6, Reece bobbled a pass from Locker in the end zone and Hawaii's Ryan Mouton picked it out of the air to clinch the win.
"This was a real disappointment because our young men played a heck of a football game," Willingham said. "Just one more play would have won the football game. We just didn't make one more play." Washington president Mark Emmert was in attendance, getting one last look at the team before he makes a postseason evaluation most close to the program figure he will give a public assessment of the program's future in the next few days. He said at halftime he needed to see the season play out.
Hawaii scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Colt Brennan to Ryan Grice-Mullen with 44 seconds left to conclude a 76-yard drive that began with 4:15 left. Brennan threw five TD passes, four to Jason Rivers, and was 42 of 50 for 442 yards.
With the win, Hawaii finishes 12-0 and almost certainly qualifies for the first BCS bowl in its history, likely the Sugar Bowl.
It was the fourth time this year UW had blown a halftime lead, and the second week in a row it blew a fourth-quarter lead.
After falling behind 21-0 less than 10 minutes into the game, the Warriors fought back and finally tied it with 8:01 left when Brennan hit Rivers on a 40-yard TD.
The drive was aided by a roughing-the-quarterback penalty on UW's Mason Foster that negated an incompletion that would have set up third-and-long.
Washington then drove to Hawaii's 41-yard line. But the drive stalled there in controversial fashion. On a third-and-15 play, Locker scrambled and appeared to hit Quintin Daniels for a first down. But officials ruled that Locker had passed the line of scrimmage. A TV replay was inconclusive, showing Locker's shoe barely touching the blue line ESPN uses to designate the line of scrimmage.
"I didn't see it, but it was fitting for all the calls we had all night," Willingham said.
Hawaii took over at its 24 with 4:15 left and drove for the winning score.
The Huskies benefited greatly from Hawaii mistakes. The hosts committed a key early penalty that kept alive a UW scoring drive, lost three fumbles and missed two field goals.
The loss came on a night when the Huskies were also assured a last-place finish in the Pac-10 by virtue of Stanford's victory over Cal.
The Huskies came out on fire in the first 10 minutes and seemed ready to turn the game into a surprising rout The Huskies got a big gift early when they lined up to punt, going three-and-out on their first possession with the crowd at a fever pitch.
But Hawaii was called for too many men on the field.
The Huskies moved easily on the ground from there, with Locker getting the touchdown on a 7-yard run up the middle.
Washington forced its next break, with safety Nate Williams breaking in and sacking Brennan on a blitz and forcing a fumble that was recovered by E.J. Savannah at the 21.
Anthony Russo ran for 20 yards on a reverse on the next play. UW needed four plays to get it in from there, but Luke Kravitz ran it in cleanly on fourth down to put UW ahead 14-0 with 8:30 to go.
Hawaii again went three-and-out on its next series with Brennan getting sacked.
That led to another UW touchdown, this one a 2-yard run by Kravitz.
The Warriors then fumbled on their next two drives, each time after finally moving the ball a bit. But the Huskies couldn't convert after either turnover.
Brennan completed all 16 of his passes in the second quarter as the Warriors began to rally. Brennan threw three touchdowns in the second quarter, all to Rivers, and had 224 yards passing in the first half.
In his halftime radio comments, Willingham voiced his displeasure with the officiating, which was done by a crew from the Western Athletic Conference.
"My biggest complaint is that they are screwing it up," he said. "This is a hell of a football game and it is not being done the way it needs to be done."