POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 28, 2012
FORT COLLINS, Colo. » Forget Halloween, the University of Hawaii football team will be haunted for a while by what took place here Saturday.
In a game where their Colorado State opponents wore orange and much of the sparse Hughes Stadium crowd of 16,573 came similarly attired, the fright was all the Warriors' doing. Or, more exactly, undoing.
The Warriors scored but six second-half points on two field goals and, time and again, squandered scoring opportunities in the shadow of the goal posts to plummet to their fifth consecutive defeat, a bewildering 42-27 loss to the Rams.
It isn't just that the Warriors now stand at 1-6 — and 0-4 in the Mountain West Conference. Nor is it that UH has lost 10 of its last 11 games against NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision opposition. Though, certainly, those are spooky enough in a season gone sour.
It is that this game could — and should — have been their way out of some of the gloom. Victory, after such a prolonged period of frustration, was there before them. And, like the goal line in the second half, it eluded them. At times it practically taunted them.
Because it did, the Warriors are looking at the likelihood of finishing last in the standings in their inaugural MWC season, and it is anybody's guess if they will be able to avoid an ignominious 1-11 record when the campaign mercifully ends.
A Warriors defense that had not forced a turnover in three previous MWC games manufactured three — an interception and two fumbles — in CSU territory in a four-minute, 45-second span of the third quarter in a steadfast bid to forge a better ending.
And, yet, all the offense had to show for it was one field goal.
Even against Colorado State, a loser of six previous games, that wasn't going to get it done. And it didn't.
"It was awful. It was terrible," coach Norm Chow said. "That's what cost us the ball game. And the fact that we could have gone up 21-7, but we fumbled the ball in the first half. That was tough. Our defense really stood up and played and we didn't take advantage of it offensively."
But the third quarter told the tale, and not the one UH wanted. Trailing 28-21 at halftime, UH should have emerged with the lead thanks to the three turnovers.
Instead, one field-goal attempt, a 46-yarder, missed wide left. Another opportunity expired on an incomplete pass on fourth down at the 1-yard line. The one opportunity UH did convert was Tyler Hadden's 26-yard field goal.
Quarterback Sean Schroeder had his worst outing of a trying season. Two of the interceptions were run back for touchdowns and a third came in the end zone.
Chow didn't have his best game, either. Despite Schroeder's struggles — the result of trying too hard to do too much and taking a fierce beating in the process — nobody else warmed up to give him a break. Nobody else came on to throw a changeup at the Rams.
The stubbornness, at times, extended to play-calling, which Chow acknowledged.
"We should have been a little more creative down by the goal line, instead of just trying to pound it in there," Chow said. "We ran the ball pretty well the first half and thought we could continue to do so, but they toughened up and we lost a couple of yards."
Asked if this loss was tougher to swallow, Chow said, "They are all tough. Every loss is tough."
Especially the rare one that should have been a victory. Those are destined to haunt a lot longer.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820