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Pollard's push for hitch-and-go cinches win

By Stephen Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 10:08 a.m. HST, Sep 12, 2010

WEST POINT, N.Y. » For the Hawaii football team, the path to victory was Royce Pollard's route.

Pollard, a junior right wideout, made two timely catches in fueling the Warriors' winning drive in yesterday's 31-28 victory over Army.

Throughout the game, Pollard suggested calling the hitch-and-go, a route in which he runs a few yards, stutter-steps to the outside, then sprints upfield.

"It's not something we really work on a lot," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said.

But when the Warriors gained possession at their 27, with 24 seconds remaining in a game tied at 28, Rolovich gave his blessing.

"Royce is such a bright player, and we needed a big play," Rolovich said. Army was "giving us a cushion (in the coverage). It was the right time to call it. That's what we talk about all of the time: Communication. Bring some information back."

The play relies on the defender over-playing the receiver. Rolovich knew the play needed a warm-up act. Rolovich called for a delayed hitch. Pollard ran a few yards, then cut to the outside.

"I knew I had to get out of bounds," Pollard said. "I didn't see anybody there, so I took a few steps up. When I stepped out of bounds, that's when (linebacker Steve Erzinger) hit me. I suckered him a little bit. Got a little personal foul called."

The 13-yard play was adjusted to an aggregate 28 yards because of the 15-yard penalty for the late hit.

"The next play, I set them up again," Pollard said. "The corner (Antuan Aaron) came down more, anticipating (the hitch). As soon as I saw him come closer, I knew it would work. I wanted to get him to bite down. When he bites down, I take it over the top."

Pollard raced along the right sideline.

Last season, quarterback Bryant Moniz struggled with his accuracy on fade passes, converting about 10 percent of them.

"We talked a lot about his eyes," Rolovich said. "We want (Moniz) to keep an eye on the receiver, not watching how pretty his pass is coming out of his hands."

Moniz and Pollard worked out extensively together this summer.

"That's where it paid off," Moniz said.

Moniz lofted a pass to Pollard for a 31-yard gain, setting up Scott Enos' winning field goal.

"I didn't want to hold onto the ball too long because of the pressure (the Black Knights) were giving," Moniz said. "I put a little more air on it, letting Royce make his move. It worked."

Rolovich said: "Great throw. I thought Bryant hung in there against some pressure. He kept it in bounds. That was the big thing."

After the game, Pollard smiled when recalling his playful nagging about the hitch-and-go.

"I called for it in the beginning of the game," Pollard said. "I called it before the game even started. The whole game, I was like, why aren't they running that play? I kept trying to put that in (Rolovich's) head."

Right slotback Kealoha Pilares said: "That was Royce's drive right there. He put everything together."

UH assistant coach Mouse Davis, the architect of the modern run-and-shoot offense, said the hitch-and-go has been part of the package for "a long time."

"How do I know it's a good play?" Davis said. "It just won us the game. That's how I know it's a good play."

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