POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 2:36 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2010
The Hawaii offense was sputtering. Quarterback Bryant Moniz wasn't his usual, reliable self at the controls.
So the Warriors defense assumed the role of the reliable battery, jump-starting its offensive counterparts by forcing three first-half turnovers en route to a 45-10 win over Idaho last night at Aloha Stadium.
The biggest jolt: a 57-yard fumble-return touchdown by junior safety Richard Torres, made possible by a hit from freshman nickel back John Hardy-Tuliau midway in the second quarter.
Two earlier interceptions of Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle — first by senior safety Mana Silva, then by junior linebacker Corey Paredes — set up the Warriors at midfield for their first two touchdowns of the game.
"We just knew we had to start making plays and just do what we do and open it up for them (the offense) to score," said Torres, who posted his first career touchdown. "As long as we do our job, we feel we can win any game."
The Warriors, in their prolific run-and-shoot attack, uncharacteristically went three and out on their opening drive and gave Idaho the ball back trailing 3-0. But as UH has done seemingly on command during its six-game winning streak, the Warriors conjured timely turnovers to get things rolling.
By the time Enderle hit Daniel Hardy in a crossing pattern, the Warriors defense — in their 45 formation of five defensive backs — was ready to pounce in the form of Hardy-Tuliau. Hawaii's Hardy proved the hardier, as the freshman ejected the ball from the receiver just after the reception.
Torres scooped it on the run and was off to paydirt.
"I knew he was gone," Hardy-Tuliau said. "We gotta all contribute to the win. Whatever we can do to put the offense in the game."
The freshman did that in the second half as well, making the Vandals pay for a muffed punt return by falling on the ball and setting up the offense for another score in Idaho territory.
"I give credit to the players. The players made plays when they needed to be made," UH defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. "They're very smart football players, they understand the game, the situation and I think they rise to the occasion."
Paredes, the reigning two-time WAC defensive player of the week, had a game-high 15 tackles.
UH has notched 22 takeaways over its winning streak. Silva's pick was his team-best fifth of the season.