Hawaii keeps bowl hopes alive
By Fred Guzman
Believe it, or not, Hawaii’s bowl hopes are still alive.
Led by a bruised quarterback and an inspired defense, UH did what many – including me – didn’t think they could do on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii controlled the ball and clamped down on bowl-bound Navy’s feared ground game for a 24-17 victory.
As a result, UH extended its winning streak to four and is now within a victory of qualifying for a berth in the Hawaii Bowl against an SMU team led by its former coach, June Jones.
Now wouldn’t that be some kind of Christmas Eve football present for local fans?
But, first things first: Hawaii must get past Wisconsin, which brings an 8-3 record into this Saturday’s regular-season finale.
B r y a n t M o n i z , w h o s a t o u t l a s t w e e k b e c a u s e o f b r u i s e d r i b s , c o m p l e t e d 3 2 o f 4 4 p a s s e s f o r 3 6 6 y a r d s a n d t h r e e t o u c h d o w n s – including a decisive 14-yarder on a swing pass to Alex Green late in the third quarter and two earlier scoring tosses to Kealoha Pilares .
Then, after UH had gambled and lost on fourth down play in the final period while deep in Navy territory, it was the Hawaii defensive unit’s turn to come up big, and it did.
Linebackers Corey Paredes and Blaze Soares made back-to-back sacks on Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs, the last on four down with a second left on the clock to secure the victory.
D o b b s c o m p l e t e d 5 o f 9 f o r 8 8 yards while rushing 2 5 t i m e s f o r 1 2 7 y a r d s a n d one score f o r t h e M i d s h i p m e n , who closed out their regular-season ledger with an 8-4 mark. Navy had already secured a berth in the Texas Bowl.
I t w a s D o b b s ‘ 2 3 rd TD o f t h e s e a s o n , t y i n g H e i s m a n T r o p h y w i n n e r T i m T e b o w ‘ s N C A A s i n g l e – s e a s o n r e c o r d . I t a l s o w a s t h e l o n g e s t s c o r i n g r u n a l l o w e d b y Hawaii t h i s s e a s o n .
But when it mattered most, Hawaii spoiled the homecoming of Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, a former UH backup quarterback when the Bows ran their version of the triple-option.
UH RECAP: What do the Rainbow Wahine have to do in order to receive respect from the NCAA volleyball tournament’s selection committee?
Obviously, a No. 3 national ranking and a 28-2 record were not enough as Hawaii received the equivalent of a No. 12 seed. Again, UH was victimized by playing in a weak conference. In fact, WAC runnerup New Mexico State was snubbed in its bid for an NCAA berth.
The Rainbow Wahine were assigned to the Los Angeles regional, where they will open on Friday against New Mexico. The survivor of the match will face the winner between Oklahoma and host USC in Saturday’s regional final.
The UH men’s basketball team is in the midst of a three-game skid as it embarks on its first road game, facing UC Riverside on Wednesday.
Hawaii is coming off an 83-71 loss to New Mexico in which the Bows led by one at intermission only to watch the Lobos open the second half with a 14-0 run.
Jeremy Lay scored a career-high 26 for UH, which was without Dwain Williams, who missed the entire week of practice going into Friday’s game. Williams is serving a two-game suspension for violating unspecified team rules, according to head coach Bob Nash.
Things aren’t going well for the UH women’s basketball team, either. Hawaii fell to 1-4 after suffering back-to-back losses in the Rainbow Wahine Classic, including last night’s 94-84 setback in OT versus East Tennessee State after losing the tourney opener, 65-53, to No. 17 Arizona State.
To make matters worse, UH guard Shawna Kuehu went down with an injury early in the overtime period last night. Kuehu had 11 points and 9 rebounds before suffering the injury. She was a two-time state player of the year at Punahou, missing her junior year because of surgery to her left knee.
The Rainbow Wahine next play Thursday night, hosting USF.
PREP FINALS: The top two seeds in both the the Divison-I and D-II tournaments will meet, as projected, in Friday night’s championship games at Aloha Stadium.
Top-ranked Kahuku never reached the EZ vs. Farrington, but pulled out a 9-6 victory in OT thanks to a trio of FG by Cameron Mercado. No. 2 Kamehameha routed Leilehua 40-0, sacking all-state QB Andrew Manley seven times. The Mules reached the semis with a 48-12 road romp past Baldwin last week.
The D-I title game is set for a 7:30 kickoff on Friday. The D-II game is scheduled for a 4:30 game featuring top-ranked Iolani and second-seeded Kauai. Neither game will be telecast live, but will be available on PPV at a cost of $14.95 for NI subscribers.
Iolani beat Aiea 21-7, which advanced by defeating Lahainaluna in the quarterfinals. Kaua’i beat visiting Hawai’i Prep, 28-14, in the other semifinal.