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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 9:55 p.m., Friday, November 16, 2007

Kelly's 45-yard field goal lifts Warriors to 28-26 win

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

RENO, NEV. — Dan Kelly drained a 45-yard field goal with 11.7 seconds left to rally Hawai'i to a 28-26 victory over Nevada in a thrilling Western Athletic Conference football game tonight in Mackey Stadium.

The Wolf Pack desperately tried to ice Kelly, twice calling timeouts before he buried the winning kick.

The Warriors improved to 10-0, and clinched a share of their third Western Athletic Conference championship. UH plays Boise State next Friday at Aloha Stadium for the outright title.

They also kept alive their hopes for a BCS berth. The Warriors are ranked No. 16 in The BCS standings.

The Warriors won despite being without quarterback Colt Brennan for all but two plays. Brennan suffered a concussion last week.

The Wolf Pack went ahead 26-25 on Luke Lippincott's 5-yard run with 8:27 to play. The ensuing two-point pass was overthrown.

The touchdown was set up when 6-foot-4 Marko Mitchell pulled in a 45-yard pass over 5-9 cornerback Gerard Lewis.

The Warriors took a 25-20 lead on Graunke's 22-yard scoring pass to Ryan Grice-Mullins with 13:35 left in the fourth quarter.

The drive was kept alive by a controversial play. On third-and-6, Bess caught a pass in the right flat, ran upfield and appeared to fumble before being tackled at the end of a 20-yard gain. Because Bess was ruled to be down, Nevada could not appeal what was an obvious fumble.

The Wolf Pack closed to 19-13 on Brett Jaekle's second field of the game, from 42 yards, and went ahead, 20-19, on Colin Kaepernick's 3-yard bootleg for a touchdown. Kaepernick's touchdown capped a 17-play drive, the Wolf Pack's longest possession of the season.

UH started its final drive from is 11 with 2:16. Graunke completed passes of 14 yards to Ryan Grice-Mullins, 11 yards to Davone Bess, and 12 yards to Grice-Mullins on the drive.

The game started well for the Warriors.

UH, on its first drive, used three quarterbacks — starter Graunke, normal starter Brennan and third-teammer Inoke Funaki — and drove from the ball the UH 23 to Nevada's 27. Kelly capped the drive with a 45-yard field goal.

Graunke later threw a scoring pass to Jason Rivers and scored on a 6-yard keeper as UH took a 19-10 halftime lead.

Brennan, who suffered a concussion last Saturday in a 37-30 victory over Fresno State, was cleared to play before the game but did not start.

He got in on the second play and completed a 7-yard pass to Bess. After Graunke passed to Bess for a first down on the next play. Funaki entered and ran twice for 10 yards and a first down.

After UH recovered a fumble to stop Nevada's initial drive, the Warriors drove to near midfield before punting, with Tim Grasso's punt being downed at the Nevada 3.

On third down, David Veikune sacked quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the end zone for a safety and a 5-0 lead.

UH then took the free kick and drove 64 yards a score with Graunke passing 3 yards to Rivers for a score in the second quarter and a 12-0 lead.

Nevada drove back and on 3rd-and-6, Colin Kaepernick threw a screen to Luke Lippincott, who sprinted through the UH defense for a 22-yard touchdown reception to close it to 12-7.

UH then drove 80 yards for a score. Graunke's 53-yard pass to C.J. Hawthorne keyed the drive, which was capped on Graunke's 6-yard TD run and a 19-7 lead.

Nevada, behind Kaepernick and Lippincott, drove for a 41-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 19-10 with 53 seconds left in the half.

Nevada took the second-half kickoff and drove to the UH 25. Runs of 12 and 18 yards by Lippincott fueled the drive. Brett Jaekle kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 19-13.

Then came the Wolf Pack's 17-play, 90-yard drive to take a 20-19 lead.

Graunke then drove the Warriors back, capping the drive with a scoring pass to Grice-Mullins for a 25-20 lead. UH's two-point conversion attempt failed.

UH is 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the WAC. Nevada is 5-5 and 3-3.