Tuesday, October 13, 2015         


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Moniz ties a school record by throwing for six touchdowns in the first half

By Stephen Tsai


It took the first home game in 23 nights for the Hawaii football team to find the proverbial road to redemption.

But on a muggy evening, the refreshed Warriors dominated all phases — and answered self-criticism — with a statement-making 66-7 rout of Charleston Southern at Aloha Stadium.

Ineffective in red-zone situations in last week's road loss, the Warriors' offense was simply in a zone, with Bryant Moniz passing for six touchdowns — all in the first half — and running for another score.

And the UH defense, which entered with one sack and zero interceptions in the first three games, showed grit in forcing three turnovers and stifling the Buccaneers to 227 yards.

"We knew we were playing a very good football team, a team that I think is underestimated, a team that is very sound," CSU coach Jay Mills said. "They are very sound in all three phases of the game, and they proved it."

The only Warrior obstacles, it seemed, were self-constructed. The Warriors, who used six quarterbacks, were intercepted three times and lost possession when a CSU punt nicked the back of cornerback Kawika Ornellas' leg.

"A win is a win, but I have to work on my picks," Moniz said. "Putting up that many touchdowns is good, but my two interceptions overshadowed all of my touchdowns. I have to work on that this week."

Uh, really?

"You always want to shoot for perfection," Moniz said. "I know it's hard to do that. It's a goal of mine. It's something I have to work on."

The Warriors in general and Moniz in particularly appeared to do little wrong in storming to a 49-7 halftime lead.

The Warriors, who struggled with their third-down efficiency last week, only had three third-down plays in the first half. Their first third down came on their sixth possession, and it was parlayed into a 33-yard pass from Moniz to left slotback Greg Salas.

"I asked Mo, 'Did you even have an incompletion in the first half?' " Salas said. "Even his deflected passes were being caught."

Moniz, in fact, was 16-for-21 for 347 yards in the first half. He played two series after the intermission and finished 19-for-27 for 395 yards.

"He did a lot of good things," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said of Moniz. "He played well. They all played well. They wanted to have a great game, and they did."

CSU, an FCS program that offers 22 fewer scholarships than UH, did not have the depth to match up against the Warriors' four-wide passing attack. The Buccaneers were faced with two options: drop back in coverage or blitz.

Both strategies came with risks. When the Buccaneers went into a prevent — with the defensive backs in a three-deep zone — the tradeoff was a three-man rush. The upfront pressure was further dilated because the Buccaneers were able to place only two defenders within the parameters of UH's offensive line.

When the Buccaneers crammed the tackle box — the imaginary rectangle near the line of scrimmage — that left the Warriors receivers to face single coverage.

Moniz had his choice of weapons. He staked the Warriors to a 21-0 lead with two scoring passes to right slotback Kealoha Pilares — both on post routes — and another to right wideout Billy Ray Stutzmann on a hitch pattern.

After the Buccaneers scored their only touchdown, on an 11-yard pass to James Nunley, the Warriors went to their creative list.

"We have a bunch of plays we want to try out," Rolovich said. "We felt this was a good time to go to one."

The trick play required a setup, which came when UH running back Alex Green took a handoff on a dive play. On what appeared to be an encore play, Green took the handoff, ran a couple of steps, pirouetted, and tossed the ball back to Moniz.

Moniz then lofted a 40-yard pass to Salas, who had sneaked behind the stunned secondary, for a touchdown.

Moniz said Friday's walk-through was the only time the Warriors practiced the play they dubbed, "bum-bye."

"(Former UH safety) Nate Jackson taught me that word when I was a player," Rolovich said. "He used to always tell me: 'Haole, bum-bye you'll learn.' "

Moniz said: "Yeah, he's Hawaiian Rolovich. It's a good play."

The key was Green selling the run.

"I'm a good actor," Green said. "I took acting classes in middle school."

Green also is a good sprinter, turning a 3-yard shovel pass into a 66-yard dash for a touchdown.

"We always knew we had an explosive offense," Green said. "We finally put four quarters together. We played a full game. It gave us a little confidence. Now we know we have to bring it every time."

The Warriors' defense also was able to quell — for one night — concerns about its ability to slow the rush.

The Warriors, using run blitzes, held the Buccaneers to 52 yards on 41 carries.

With nowhere to run, and their deficit growing, the Buccaneers were forced to pass into the Warriors' active zone defense. Cornerback Jeramy Bryant made the Warriors' first interception of the season, in the first quarter, and linebacker Po'okela Ahmad added one in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors dropped four potential interceptions, including two by backup safety Jordan Gomes.

"It's going to haunt me for the next week," Gomes said.

Bryant said the UH defense was challenged by the coaches earlier in the week.

"We're tired of being embarrassed," Bryant said. "We're trying to get back to the old Hawaii, how things used to be around here."

In the locker room after the game, defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga slowly peeled off his uniform — and stripped away the burden placed on the defensive line.

"We got tired of being 'those guys,' " Meatoga said. "We're tired of being known as the weakness on the team. We were projected to be the strength. We had to step up. Against (Southern California) and Colorado, we kind of flopped here and there. We were sick of being 'those guys,' being picked on, being yelled at, being the liability. I think everybody took it upon themselves to get better and have a good game."

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