Bryant Moniz was uncharacteristically wild early on.
Greg Salas saw a sure touchdown reception fall off his normally reliable hands.
A trick play didn’t quite materialize and a first and goal at the 2 resulted in an interception.
In the past two seasons, such missed opportunities might have sidetracked the Hawaii offense.
Last night, the Warriors made sure the ragged moments didn’t matter much at all at the finish.
"Now we know what we can do," Salas said after UH’s bowl-clinching 45-10 win over Idaho last night at Aloha Stadium. "We have a real close chemistry and bond with each other, so we don’t get frustrated thinking, ‘We’re not scoring.’ We know when we get back on the field we’re going to get the opportunity and make the most of it."
Moniz shook off a relatively slow start by his now-elevated standards — completing five of his first 13 attempts — to pass for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 13 of 14 passes in the second half and scored UH’s last touchdown on a 3-yard run.
The rare drop aside, Salas continued his ascent up UH’s receiving charts with 11 catches for 168 yards.
Salas moved into second place on UH’s career receiving list with 3,692 yards, passing Davone Bess along the way. He’s now just 227 yards away from Jason Rivers’ school record of 3,919. It’s certainly within reach considering he’s averaging more than 152 yards per game during UH’s six-game winning streak with four regular-season games left on a schedule now capped by the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
"That’s kind of what you expect from him," UH offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "He’s a special player in the history of UH football."
"I’m not paying attention to that at all," Salas said. "I’ll look back at the end of my career and see where I fall. But we don’t go into a game thinking about what we have (statistically), we go into the game thinking, ‘we need to win this.’ "
Salas said the drop early in the second quarter provided extra motivation to latch onto everything thrown his way thereafter.
"I don’t know what happened to me right there, I just got too excited," he said. "But after that I definitely focused up and it made me a little mad and I think it makes me play a little better when I play angry."
Perhaps underscoring the offense’s development, the Warriors shook off the drop to eventually score on that very drive, converting on fourth and goal with Moniz hitting Kealoha Pilares for a 4-yard touchdown to give UH a 17-3 lead.
"Just the guys we have, it gets into trust, it gets into love, it gets into having each other’s back," Rolovich said. "It’s not Xs and Os any more. It’s just a special time for UH football and I hope everyone’s enjoying it."