POSTED: 04:52 p.m. HST, Aug 30, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 12:18 a.m. HST, Aug 31, 2014
The only people who believe in moral victories are the ones who sit in the stands.
Saturday night's 17-16 win by No. 25-ranked Washington over the University of Hawaii will sting for a while for the Warriors, who had their chances to win this season-opening football game for both teams.
An Aloha Stadium crowd of 32,197 saw a much-improved defense and an offense that pushed the Huskies around in the first half. It was almost good enough for a major upset of a Pac-12 team for UH. The key word being, almost.
"We had our chances, both offensively and defensively," UH head coach Norm Chow said. "We played with a lot of intensity, which I thought we would. We need to cut down on making mistakes. You can't make mistakes against a good football team like this."
When the Huskies needed it most, their defense held and their offense moved the football well enough to keep the Warriors from mounting one last charge in a nonconference football game that was a wild one in the first half, and equally sedate in the second.
Holding a 10-7 advantage, Hawaii was in position to score again when it all changed for good on back-to-back plays. The Warriors failed to convert a fourth-and-2 from the UW 9, opting to go for it, instead of settling for three with a chip-shot field goal.
Washington made Hawaii pay for it dearly on the next play, a 91-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist to speedy John Ross to complete a potential 14-point swing and take the lead for good with nearly 13 minutes left in the half.
The Warriors ran an amazing 54 plays before intermission, but didn't capitalize on their good fortune often enough, despite scoring the first 10 points of the game. Washington added a field goal to hold a 17-10 advantage. UH place-kicker Tyler Hadden tried to stop the bleeding just before the half, but his 40-yard attempt hit the left upright square and dropped harmlessly to the turf with 2 seconds left in the second quarter.
Hadden knocked two through in the second half as the Warriors drew to within 1 in the fourth, but could get no closer as the Huskies escaped town with the win.
After the wild first half, the second was a sleeper by comparison. Hawaii forced a three-and-out on defense that resulted in the Warriors getting the ball at UW's 41 on their second offensive series.
It led to a 38-yard field goal by Hadden, his second three-pointer of the game to cut Washington's lead to 17-13 with 9:45 left in the third quarter. Hawaii forced five three-and-outs on UW's first six possessions of the second half, but the Huskies were equally stingy. Hawaii couldn't put together a sustained drive, despite having better field position.
The Warriors cut the margin to 17-16 on a 27-yard field goal by Hadden with 12:42 left in the game. Once again, Hawaii got excellent field position, starting at the Huskies' 36, but like UH's defense, Washington refused to yield as the Huskies held on a third-down pass play.
It was a little more lively in the first half where Hawaii took the opening kickoff and marched 58 yards on 10 plays, the last one a 1-yard scoring run by Joey Iosefa as Hadden added the PAT to make it 7-0 Hawaii with 11:32 left in the first quarter.
The drive was set up on a nice 40-yard kickoff return by Diocemy Saint Juste. Hawaii starting quarterback Ikaika Woolsey completed several passes in the drive to set up the 1-yard plunge by Iosefa, who carried the ball 30 times for 143 yards.
The UH offense was crisp early on, marching methodically against a confused Huskies defense. Hawaii's second series began on its own 11 and appeared to have stalled on the Washington 28, but Woolsey converted a fourth-down play to Scott Harding for 7 yards to keep the drive alive.
From there, Hawaii moved to the Washington 18 on a tipped pass that was caught by Marcus Kemp for 13 yards that made it first and 10. The Huskies held at that point, forcing a 28-yard field-goal attempt by Harding that was good to make it 10-0 with 3:22 left in the first. The drive was 18 plays for 79 yards with an elapsed time of 6:19 off the clock.
Washington came right back and cut the lead to three, helped by a huge roughing-the-passer penalty by UH defensive back Ne'Quan Phillips that kept the drive alive after UH appeared to have held the Huskies. On the next play, Ross scored from 20 yards out on a nifty reverse as Cameron Van Winkle added the PAT to cut UH's margin to 10-7 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.
UH quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, who hit 23 of 47 passes for 207 yards, got Hawaii in scoring position again, only to fail to convert on the fourth-and-2 pass play off a reverse by wide receiver Kemp. Under heavy pressure, his pass fell harmlessly to the turf.
The 91-yard touchdown pass from Lindquist to Ross followed in what proved to be the difference in the game.
Washington extended the margin to 17-10 on a 36-yard field goal by Van WInkle that culminated a 16-play, 56-yard drive. The Huskies appeared to be headed to the end zone, but the UH defense held on a third-and-10 play at its own 20.
Lindquist hit 10 of 26 for 162 yards. Lavone Coleman rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries.
"Our guys played hard," UW coach Chris Petersen said. "I think there were some good individual plays. Certainly as a team we didn't play nearly like I think we can play. I think it's going to be a big wake-up call. It's just hard to win games against anybody."