POSTED: 6:04 p.m. HST, Oct 16, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 1:24 a.m. HST, Oct 17, 2010
There's something about Hawaii that just doesn't sit well with Nevada.
In need of a big road win in the 50th state, the No. 19-ranked Wolf Pack came up just short in a dramatic Western Athletic Conference football game won by the Warriors 27-21 tonight before a boisterous Aloha Stadium crowd of 40,845.
Spotting Hawaii 17 unanswered points in the first half, Nevada got its pistol offense in working order long enough to get back in it late. After the Wolf Pack (6-1, 1-1) cut it to six and recovered an onside kick at their own 43 with 3 minutes left, it appeared Nevada had a chance to steal the game and give head coach Chris Ault his first win here over the Warriors in six tries.
But an interception by Hawaii safety Mana Silva off a tipped ball by Richard Torres, who intercepted a Kaepernick pass in the UH end zone late in the first half, ended that opportunity as the crowd went wild with the win.
The Warriors (5-2, 3-0) built an early lead in this game with two first-quarter touchdowns and then held on as Nevada finally found its rhythm.
After the Warrior defense forced a fumble on Nevada's second drive of the game, Hawaii needed only two plays to go 19 yards, the last a 6-yard touchdown pass from UH quarterback Bryant Moniz to favorite target Kealoha Pilares. Scott Enos, who missed a 40-yard field goal wide right on UH's opening drive, added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 9:55 left in the first.
UH held Nevada again on its ensuing series and marched steadily down the field after the punt, going 76 yards on eight plays to make it 14-0 with 4:59 left in the opening quarter. The last one was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Pilares, who managed several nice moves inside the 10, to give Hawaii a two-touchdown lead after Enos knocked through the PAT.
The Warriors added three more on a 24-yard field goal by Enos with 7:42 left in the second. The drive was set up by the defense again, which held Nevada on a fourth-down play at the UH 35. The Warriors had a third down at the Nevada 7, before the drive stalled.
The third quarter was an exercise in futility for Nevada, which saw an apparent touchdown by Kaepernick, ruled a fumble just before he went in, giving the ball to Hawaii on its own 20 after it rolled out of the end zone.
Once again, the Nevada defense held on the ensuing series and returned a punt deep in Hawaii territory. The Wolf Pack finally scored on a quarterback sneak by Kaepernick from 1 yard out on fourth down to make it 17-7 with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
Hawaii answered with a 31-yard field goal by Enos that made it 20-7 with 11:10 left in the game. The Warriors appeared headed toward a touchdown, but the Nevada defense held firm once Hawaii got inside the red zone.
Nevada cut the lead to 20-14 with 9:30 left in the game on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to running back Vai Taua on a perfectly executed screen pass as Nevada caught Hawaii in an all-out blitz.
Hawaii seemingly put the game out of reach with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Royce Pollard to complete a 57-yard drive. Enos added the PAT to stretch it to 27-14 with 5:27 left in the game.
But Nevada wouldn't quit. The Wolf Pack drove 68 yards on seven plays to score on another screen pass, this time from Kaepernick to Mike Ball from 10 yards out. The third PAT by Anthony Martinez cut Hawaii's lead to 27-21 with 3:06 remaining.
After Nevada executed a perfect onside kick and recovered it at its own 43, Kaepernick methodically drove Nevada to the UH 35 with less than 2 minutes remaining before his fourth turnover of the game sealed Nevada's fate. He completed 14 of 26 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, but his four turnovers proved costly.
Moniz hit 26 of 36 for 287 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception, but was sacked four times. Hawaii held Nevada to only 134 yards on the ground. UH linebacker Corey Paredes forced two Kaepernick fumbles. One led to UH's first score and the other on the UH 1-yard line kept Kaepernick from scoring midway through the third period.
Greg Salas led all receivers with 11 catches for 153 yards. Pilares hauled in eight for 67 yards and two early scores.