POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 5, 2010
One of Bryant Moniz's most meaningful handoffs came prior to the Hawaii football team's entrance into Aloha Stadium last night.
The Warriors junior quarterback had carried the Hawaiian flag out of the tunnel before each home game this season. But when offensive tackle Kainoa LaCount requested that honor for senior night, Moniz was quick to oblige.
"I wanted him to have that," Moniz said. "I had goose bumps standing behind him watching him."
Playing behind an all-senior line for the first time this season, he and fellow junior Royce Pollard accounted for the Warriors' first three touchdowns in a 59-21 rout of UNLV at Aloha Stadium.
But the postgame honorees got into the act before too long.
Running back Alex Green broke the century mark for the fourth time in his senior season with 136 rushing yards, and Moniz's final three touchdown passes of the regular season went to senior slotbacks Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas.
Jake Heun, who spent most of his career on defense, then capped UH's scoring deluge with a touchdown plunge as a running back late in the game.
Then there was the line, perhaps the Warriors' most scrutinized unit during the summer after the Warriors lost four starters off last year's starting five.
The offensive front held steady in the fall to allow Moniz to spend much of the season atop the national rankings in passing and total offense and opened the way for Green to become the program's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1992.
Last night, LaCount made his first start at left tackle — where junior Austin Hansen had started the first 12 games — to complete the senior-heavy line with right tackle Laupepa Letuli, guards Adrian Thomas and Brysen Ginlack and center Bronson Tiwanak.
"It was a great tribute to those five guys and what they've been through," said offensive line coach Gordy Shaw, wearing a lava lava given to him by LaCount's mother.
"It's just an interesting group of guys. They all had their stories."
Letuli wouldn't have been part of last night's festivities if not for a sixth-year exemption granted by the NCAA in the offseason. LaCount had to sit out a year after junior college before becoming eligible last year and had started two games at right tackle in place of Letuli earlier this season.
Ginlack came back from a redshirt year to start all 13 games this season. Tiwanak had to try out last season as a walk-on transfer. Thomas was recruited out of Australia and developed into a full-time starter in his fifth year.
"That was great, it meant a lot to us," LaCount said of putting five seniors across the front. "Except for me and Bronson, those guys were together for all five years and I'm honored to play with them and thank them for bringing me in with them."
Moniz was certainly thankful for their efforts as well after passing for 380 yards and four touchdowns before leaving the field along with the line early in the fourth quarter.
"They did an excellent job," Moniz said. "All of our success is because of them. And I appreciate them. I'm going to miss them."