UH Warriors' reserves relish time to shine
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By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
After a University of Hawai'i football player named Pau put an end to the scoring, and the na-na-na taunting chorus had dwindled to a generic taunt, and a crowd of a few hundred transformed into an autograph line, there was only one thing left to do to complete the Green team's 12-6 overtime victory in yesterday's Scout Bowl:
Douse Green head coach, Michael Lafaele.
When two players grabbed a full cooler of iced Gatorade, a trainer protested, yelling, "I just filled that!"
The players skipped to Plan D, emptying a cup of Gatorade on Lafaele.
Clearly, the intent of the game — which featured redshirts and developing players — was to have fun, not to pour it on.
"This was really a good time," gushed head coach June Jones, who served as commissioner.
In turn, quarterback Colt Brennan, co-coach of the White team, served as Jones.
Arriving during warmups in a golf cart, Brennan wore an "H" logo aloha shirt and lei, and carried a manila folder on which plays were scribbled.
"I was trying to be like coach Jones," Brennan said. "Then I realized we had to practice (before the game)."
He made a U-turn toward the locker room, where he changed into his uniform.
To simulate game conditions, defensive tackle Fale Laeli dressed as the Warrior mascot, complete with taped cardboard made to resemble a boar's bone.
"He's Fale the Warrior," said defensive tackle Keala Watson, who doubled as costume designer. "I don't look at the outside. I look at the inside. He's a warrior at heart."
Defensive backs Ryan Keomaka and Guyton Galdeira brought conch shells.
Linebacker Brashton Satele waved a Watson-designed banner.
"Keala was feeling creative," Laeli said. "He worked all day on these things."
The players started their two-sided chants of "Rain ... Bows!"
When the White made a big gain, players would yell out: "It's another White ... first down!"
The mood was considerably lighter than the previous 24 hours, when the teams failed to agree on a trade after the Green selected both eligible quarterbacks — Jake Santos and Shane Austin — in Wednesday's draft. Talks broke down Wednesday evening, resumed yesterday morning, and then broke down again.
But just before the game, White agreed to trade its No. 1 pick, linebacker Mana Lolotai, for Austin. It proved to be an inspirational addition for the Green. As every Warrior knows, it is important to enter battle with Mana on your side.
"Mana's a great player," Lafaele said.
He was much needed, too, because Green had only two linebackers.
"We had to make it fair," Brennan said. "It's a game for the guys. In the end, we said, 'Hey, we've got to make a trade.'"
The deal was finalized a minute before the game's start, further evidence that practice isn't always essential.
"We were drawing (plays) up on the spot," Austin said.
White opened with running back Mario Cox taking the snap, then throwing a pass to the flats. Twice, White threw passes after laterals — although Austin's lateral to slotback Jon Medeiros should have been ruled a forward pass, negating a 22-yard gain.
"We knew the defense didn't think we would run trick plays," Brennan said, "so we knew we'd have success if we did."
The White team was coached by the offensive seniors; the Green by the defensive seniors.
Jones' rules called for each team to have three possessions in regulation, with each drive starting on the defense's 40.
No field goals or punts were allowed.
White took a 6-0 lead on Eric Shaffer's 7-yard pass from Austin. When Green's first possession came up empty, White players began chanting, "O-ver-ra-ted! ... O-ver-ra-ted!"
White then drove to the 2. Running back Camron Carmona was hit by defensive lineman Elliott Purcell, losing his grip on the football. Green recovered.
White co-coach Hercules Satele looked to replay official Michael Brewster, who was on a tower overlooking the grass practice field.
"That was not a fumble," Satele argued. "His knee was down. I saw Brewster, and he was waving the red flag. I looked at the sideline judge (conditioning coach Mel deLaura), and he saw the knee go down."
Later Brewster, between bites of his post-game meal, said: "There wasn't enough evidence."
"That's just wrong," Satele said. "It's a conspiracy."
Austin said: "It wasn't a fumble. I don't know why they called it a fumble."
"Two words: forward pass," Green assistant coach Spencer Smith said, invoking the karma clause in referring to the earlier lateral.
"That fumble was more of a game-changer," Austin said.
White's final possession of regulation also ended in a fumble.
Then Green drove to the 2.
"We weren't running the ball great and we weren't passing the ball great," Green quarterback Jake Santos said. "We didn't know what to do next."
Lafaele called for a quarterback bootleg. Santos stepped to his left, turned and sprinted around the right side for the tying touchdown.
"I made (linebacker Kevin) Konrath miss," Santos said. "He got me good earlier in the game on a sack. He's one of my buddies. I had to make him miss on one of them."
In overtime, each possession started at the 10. Santos threw 2 yards to Daniel Libre. Santos then scrambled for 5 yards, advancing the ball to the 3.
Lafaele decided it was Pau hana time. Out of the I formation, Santos faked a handoff to Jason Laumoli and gave the ball to Pau, who hammered his way into the end zone, making it 12-6.
"He was our secret weapon," Lafaele said of his childhood friend.
Pau moved from Kalihi as a teen-ager. Pau attended McKinley High; Lafaele went to Farrington High.
"I followed his career," Lafaele said. "He's a hard worker."
Pau said: "I'm glad Mike gave me the chance."
White's overtime possession ended when safety Kenny Estes dropped a sure interception of Austin's fourth-down pass.
"I wasn't expecting the ball," said Estes, who was credited with a pass deflection.
The game might prove beneficial to some of the participants. Purcell, a second-year freshman who had two sacks and a forced fumble, could earn an expanded role.
"It's all fun and games," said Purcell, who is related to defensive left end Amani Purcell and former UH defensive lineman Melila Purcell.
"We knew he was good because he's a Purcell and he's a Saint Louis boy," said linebacker Timo Purcell, a Saint Louis alumnus who acted as the Green's player-personnel director. "We woke up a sleeping giants. That's what we did."
Purcell goes by two nicknames. When he plays well, he is "Melliott," a pass-rusher comparable to Melila Purcell, now with the Cleveland Browns.
"He's also 'Lazy-E,'" Paepule said. "We have to get rid of his laziness first, then we'll change the name. He still has to prove it. He'll get there. This was a start. He's going to be a great player."
Purcell said: "I always had it in me. I just have to show what I have. Hopefully, the coaches will look at the tape (of the game) and see some good things."
To the Green, meanwhile, belongs the bragging rights.
"Look at this guy," Lafaele said of the White's Satele. "He ought to bow down in front of us. We've got bragging rights until the end of time because this is my last year here. There won't be a rematch."
Visit Tsai's blog at www.HawaiiWarriorBeat.com.
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.