LIVE FROM ALOHA: Hawaii stormed ahead 22-3 early in the second quarter, but San Diego State rallied behind a no-huddle attack with 23 unanswered points. Hawaii still pulled out a remarkable 41-40 victory.
Hawaii 41, SDSU 40 FINAL Warriors' 19-point lead disappears, but Hawaii rallies for lead
By Paul Honda Senior Writer Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002,
HALAWA—Big plays by San DiegoState silenced Hawaii fans tonight.
Resilience by Hawaii brought the Warriors back into the lead. Hawaii blew a 19-point first-half lead, and then rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull out a 41-40 win over SDSU.
San Diego drove to the Hawaii 37-yard line, but Travis LaBoy sacked quarterback Lon Sheriff on fourth-and-7 to end the Aztec series. Hawaii took over at its own 45 with remaining. Chang completed a 21-yard pass to Nate Ilaoa, who scored the go-ahead touchdown one series earlier, and the shifty freshman stayed inbounds to help Hawaii pull out the win.
San DiegoState, out of time outs, was out of luck.
San DiegoState (4-9, 4-3Mountain West Conference) is a former member of the Western Athletic Conference. Hawaii finished the regular season 10-3 (7-1 WAC) and already has a berth secured in the Hawaii Bowl.
One of several big offensive plays by the Aztec offense came on the heels of what could have been a go-ahead scoring drive by Hawaii. J.R. Tolver pulled in a rainbow lob from Lon Sheriff and raced 60 yards to set up a 6-yard scoring pass from Sheriff to Kassim Osgood. That gave San DiegoState a 40-29 lead over Hawaii with to play.
The drive came after Neal Gossett caught a Tim Chang pass at the SDSU 4 and fumbled. Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Trailing 33-29 at the time, Hawaii had driven 63 yards preceding the fumble.
In spite of the miscue, Hawaii rallied. A Chang interception gave the ball back to SDSU, but the Aztecs stalled and punted back to Hawaii. The Warriors drove 48 yards in five plays with the help of a late hit penalty and a pass interference call in the end zone. Thero Mitchell zipped up the middle for a 2-yard scoring run to bring Hawaii within 40-35 with left.
Chang's pass to Komine on the 2-point PAT was incomplete, despite Komine's complaint to the back judge about contact before the pass.
The UH defense came up with key stops, including a sack by Pisa Tinoisamoa of Sheriff for an 8-yard loss. A 56-yard punt by Jermaine Moore whistled and twisted in the gusts, and Chad Owens muffed the ball. UH recovered the ball at its own 8-yard line, eluding disaster. Chang led the Warriors on an eight-play, 92-yard drive. Nate Ilaoa's 42-yard run around left end stunned the Aztecs and set up his 2-yard touchdown run to give Hawaii a 41-40 lead with 4:45 remaining.
After an illegal procedure call on the PAT, John West's run up the middle was stopped inside the 1-yard line.
Third Quarter Update
Backup running back Michael Franklin bolted 55 yards to set up a 36-yard field goal by Tommy Kirovski to give the Aztecs the lead over Hawaii early in the third quarter. Just two minutes later, Kirovski's fourth field goal gave San DiegoState a 26-22 lead.
In all, San DiegoState scored 23 unanswered points in a battle of shotgun attacks.
Hawaii's dormant offense finally woke up, however, midway through the third quarter. Tim Chang guided the Warriors 79 yards in 14 plays, finishing the march with a 3-yard pass to Britton Komine for a touchdown. The Warriors, who eschewed the ground game for most of the middle two quarters of the game, returned to it with success. They ran five times for 37 yards to keep SDSU off-balance. With a 29-26 lead and to play in the third, Warrior fans finally had plenty to cheer about.
That excitement lasted for just three plays. Lon Sheriff hoisted a 69-yard bomb down the right sideline to J.R. Tolver, and the visiting Aztecs regained the lead, 33-29, with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.
The electric third stanza kept Warrior fans on pins and needles. Franklin's third field goal came with to play in the third. The Aztecs were at the Hawaii 4-yard line after Franklin's run, but James Truvillion was stopped for a 5-yard loss, and on the play, tight end Raleigh Fletcher was whistled for a personal foul and ejected from the game. That pushed SDSU back to the Hawaii 24-yard line.
Moments later, Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang rolled right under pressure, fired a low pass and was intercepted by cornerback LaVance Ray atr the Warrior 32-yard line. The Aztecs drove deep into Warrior territory, but stalled at the 4. Kirovski's fourth field goal gave SDSU a 26-22 cushion with to play in the third quarter. Halftime Update
Special teams are making a special difference for the University of Hawaii tonight.
They're making a rather significant difference for San DiegoState, as well, but not in the way the Aztecs like. Hawaii led San DiegoState 22-20 midway in the second quarter with the help of two SDSU punting miscues and a fumble.
Punter Brian Simnjanovski shanked one punt and another of his attempts was blocked by Keani Alapa, leading to a pair of Hawaii touchdowns late in the first quarter.
SDSU, however, took advantage of mismatches and rolled through the UH defense in the second quarter with a strictly-no-huddle attack. Quarterback Lon Sheriff, who began the season as a backup, completed 15 passes in a row during the second quarter to rally the Aztecs. Sheriff completed 19 of 26 attempts for 199 yards with no interceptions in the first half. J.R. Tolver caught nine passes for 97 yards and Kassim Osgood has 101 yards on three catches, including an 87-yard play. San DiegoState rolled up 341 total yards to Hawaii's 258.
Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang started hot, but cooled off as the Aztecs rallied in the second quarter. Chang completed 14 of 24 attempts for 219 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. One of the picks came when a well-thrown pass to Jeremiah Cockheran went off his hands and into those arms of San DiegoState linebacker Beau Trickey late in the first half.
With the score tied at 3, Simnjanovski shanked an 11-yard punt, giving Hawaii first down at the Aztec 39-yard line. Five plays later, with the help of a 14-yard pass from Tim Chang to Chad Owens, Hawaii broke into the end zone. Shawn Withy-Allen's keeper to the left from three yards out gave the Warriors a 9-3 lead with to play in the first stanza.
SDSU's next series stalled out at the Aztec 34, but Alapa surged up the middle and got most of the ball. The punt scooted up the right sideline at knee level for 14 yards, and Hawaii took over at the Aztec 48. On the next play, Chang fired a bomb to wide receiver Jeremiah Cockheran, who beat his defender by three yards and hauled in the spiral for the touchdown. The holder on the PAT, Withy-Allen, dropped the snap, and placekicker Justin Ayat was tackled by three defenders on his run to the pylon. Hawaii led 15-3 with 44 seconds to play in the first.
On San DiegoState's first play in the ensuing series. Tolver caught a pass over the middle and rambled for a first down, but fumbled when David Gilmore delivered a hit. Leonard Peters recovered for the Warriors at the SDSU 39. Hawaii drove to paydirt in five plays, capping the march on a fourth-and-1 touchdown pass from Chang to Britton Komine from the 19. Ayat's PAT kick gave Hawaii a 22-3 lead with remaining in the half.
By this point, the home crowd at Aloha Stadium was alive.
SDSU responded, however, with back-to-back touchdowns. The Aztecs marched 80 yards in just 10 plays behind a no-huddle attack. Sheriff completed 7 of 7 pass attempts in the series, including a 3-yard fade to the left corner, where Tolver reached above Abraham Eliminian for the ball. Kirovski's extra-point kick pulled the Aztecs within 22-10 with left in the half.
Hawaii's ensuing possession was troubled. Defensive end Brook Miller sacked Chang for a 2-yard loss, and Chang followed with a lofty pass down field that was intercepted by safety Marviel Underwood, who hustled over to make the play on the sky-high pass.
The Aztecs took over at their own 49 and drove to the end zone once again, this time in just seven plays. Operating out of a no-huddle, shotgun formation as usual, Sheriff hit four passes in four attempts as the Aztecs ate up chunks of yardage. Even running back Ronnie Davenport got his share, gaining 19 yards in three carries, including a 2-yard burst up the gut for a SDSU touchdown. Kirovski's PAT kick pulled the Aztecs within 22-17 with to play in the second quarter.
Hawaii, which ran the ball seven times in the opening quarter (not including a sack of Chang), lost its momentum and went three-and-out. San DiegoState got the ball back on its 44-yard line after a 31-yard punt by Mat McBriar. SDSU drove deep into Hawaii territory again, but Travis LaBoy's sack of Sheriff stalled the march. Kirovski's 33-yard field goal brought SDSU within 22-20.
Kirovski missed a 53-yard field goal try on the final play of the first half.
Early on, however, a strangely docile audience saw the Aztecs jolt Hawaii with an 87-yard screen pass from J.R. Tolver to Kassim Osgood. The play started at the SDSU 1, and Tolver is listed as a starting flanker. Nevertheless, that play gave SDSU first down at the Hawaii 12-yard line. The Warrior defense stiffened thanks to a drop in the end zone by Osgood, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior, and a deflection by Abraham Eliminian.
The Aztecs settled for Tommy Kirovski's 23-yard field goal with to play in the first quarter.
Hawaii responded with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with Justin Ayat's 32-yard field goal. That tied the game at 3 with to go in the opening quarter.
@ Aloha Stadium
San Diego St.
SDSU -- Tommy Kirovski FG 23, SDSU 3-0, .
HAWAII -- Justin Ayat FG 32, TIE 3-3, .
HAWAII -- Shawn Withy-Allen 3 run (Ayat run failed), UH 9-3, .
HAWAII -- Jeremiah Cockheran 48 pass from Tim Chang (pass failed), UH 9-3, :44.
HAWAII -- Britton Komine 19 pass from Chang (Ayat kick), UH 22-3, .