POSTED: 6:12 p.m. HST, Nov 19, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 11:10 p.m. HST, Nov 19, 2011
If Hawaii had entertained any thoughts of playing on Christmas Eve, beating Fresno State in tonight's final Western Athletic Conference football game for the Warriors was a must.
But it was Fresno State that scored early and often en route to a 24-21 victory before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 24,367. The loss dropped Hawaii to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in league play. The Bulldogs are 4-7 for the season and 3-3 in the WAC.
More importantly for Hawaii, the Warriors must win their final two games to be eligible for the Hawaii Bowl. They play two nonconference games against Tulane on Saturday and Brigham Young on Dec. 3 to end the regular season.
Down 17-7 at intermission, the Warriors took the opening drive of the second half and marched 78 yards on nine plays to cut the Bulldogs' lead to three. The final play was a 24-yard touchdown pass from UH quarterback David Graves to wideout Royce Pollard as Kenton Chun added the PAT to make it 17-14 Fresno State with 11:54 left in the third.
After holding Fresno State on downs, Hawaii went 85 yards on only three plays, the last one a 69-yard bomb from Graves to Billy Ray Stutzmann. It was the longest pass play of the year for the Warriors as they took a 21-17 lead with 6:18 left in the third after Chun added the PAT.
Fresno State retook the lead on a four-play 85-yard drive that culminated with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr to wideout Josh Harper as Kevin Goessling added the PAT to make it 24-21 Fresno State with 14:23 left in the game.
Early on, it was all Bulldogs as they scored the first 17 points of the game. Fresno State took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards on only three plays, the last one a 44-yard touchdown pass from Carr to wide receiver Jalen Saunders. Goessling added the PAT to give the Bulldogs a seven-point lead with 13:44 left in the first quarter.
Fresno State added three more points on a 12-play 82-yard drive that culminated with a 32-yard field goal by Goessling to make it 10-0 Fresno State with 5:38 left in the first.
The Bulldogs extended their advantage to 17-0 with 12:26 left in the half on a 1-yard touchdown run by Robbie Rouse. Goessling added the PAT as the Bulldogs went 69 yards on 12 plays to take a commanding lead.
Hawaii cut Fresno State's lead to 10 with a touchdown run by Graves with 1 minute left in the half. Coming in for a struggling Shane Austin, Graves led Hawaii on a 10-play 67-yard drive that ended on a 6-yard scamper by Graves. Chun added the PAT to make it 17-7 Fresno.