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Hawaii defeats UNLV 59-21

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:56 p.m. HST, Dec 4, 2010

On a night where the seniors took a final bow, Bryant Moniz made sure they went out in style.

The University of Hawaii quarterback orchestrated the class of 2010's exit strategy as the Warriors blew out Nevada-Las Vegas 59-21 last night before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 34,746.

The nonconference victory gave Hawaii a 10-3 regular-season record as UNLV dropped to 2-11. It was the sixth time in school history that Hawaii won at least 10 games. Moniz still has another year left on his odometer, but he's going to miss slotbacks Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, and running back Alex Green.

The three departing seniors scored four touchdowns in this lopsided affair thanks to Moniz, who completed 29 of 43 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for two more to join in the fun and exact a measure of revenge on the Rebels of Las Vegas, who kept Hawaii out of the postseason last year with a close win in Sin City.

Pilares caught nine passes for 157 yards and one score. Salas grabbed five passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns, and Green rushed 15 times for 136 yards and a touchdown to give the seniors a night to remember.

After learning Tulsa would be their opponent in the Hawaii Bowl, the No. 25-ranked Hawaii Warriors made sure there wasn't a letdown right from the start.

The Warriors went 84 yards on 10 plays on their opening drive of the game. The final play covered 33 yards on a touchdown pass from UH Moniz to fellow junior Royce Pollard, who made a spectacular catch on the third-and-23 call.

With the slotbacks receiving double coverage, Moniz quickly realized Pollard had man coverage on the outside and threw the football to the far corner of the right end zone. Pollard adjusted to the ball by stretching out and snagging the pass before landing flat on his back with both feet down to make it 7-0 with 6:56 left in the first quarter as Scott Enos added his first PAT.

UNLV struck back quickly, going 74 yards on only three plays. The key one of the drive was a 60-yard touchdown pass from UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton to wide receiver Michael Johnson as Nolan Kohorst added the PAT to make it 7-7 with 5:22 left in the first.

Hawaii came right back on a short field to go 44 yards on five plays to regain the lead at 14-7 with 3:28 left in the wild opening quarter. Moniz scored from 4 yards out on a third-down scramble and Enos added the PAT to give Hawaii the early advantage.

Hawaii built on that lead on the ensuing offensive series as the Warriors drove 71 yards on 10 plays. Moniz scored again, this time on a fourth down quarterback sneak from 1 yard out to give UH a 21-7 lead with 12:08 left in the second quarter.

After holding UNLV on downs, Hawaii drove 48 yards on eight plays before the drive bogged down inside the UNLV 10. It led to a 25-yard field goal by Enos to give Hawaii a 24-7 lead with 6:45 left in the half.

It didn't take long for Hawaii to extend the lead to 24 points. UH safety Richard Torres intercepted a Clayton pass and returned it 45 yards, setting up a 1-yard scoring run by Green. Enos added the PAT to give Hawaii a comfortable 31-7 advantage with 6:14 left in the half.

Hawaii put the game out of reach on its second drive of the second half. Moniz completed a six-play, 51-yard scoring drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Salas, only his third catch of the game. Enos added the PAT to give Hawaii an insurmountable 38-7 lead with 9:32 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors scored again after senior Mana Silva intercepted a UNLV pass deep in its own territory and returned it to the UH 26-yard line. It was Silva's eighth interception of the season to tie him for the national lead and the 14th of his career, setting a UH record.

The Warriors drove 74 yards on seven plays with the last one a 3-yard touchdown pass to Pilares. It was his eighth catch for the night and gave Hawaii a 45-7 lead with 4:17 left in the third after Enos added his seventh PAT.

And Hawaii wasn't done yet. Moniz found Salas wide open on a play-action pass for 54 yards and another score to make it 52-7 Hawaii with 14:12 left in the game. It was the longest touchdown grab of the season for Salas.

UNLV finally got on the board late on a touchdown pass of 9 yards from Clayton to wideout Phillip Payne to make it 52-14 with 4:06 left in the game. It was Payne's touchdown grab on the last play of the game in 2009 that sealed UNLV's one-point victory that was the first of a six-game slide for teh Warriors.

But not to be outdone, Hawaii scored one last time on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior Jake Huen that culminated a five-play, 66-yard drive as Enos added the PAT to make it 59-14 with 1:29 left in the game.

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