The number "2" on San Jose State quarterback Jordan La Secla’s No. 12 jersey was replaced by a gaping hole.
The back of what had, originally, been a white jersey was tinged in green, the color of the paint on the Aloha Stadium turf, and red, possibly Type B.
"I was surprised he got up a couple times," said defensive end Paipai Falemalu with some amazement after three clavicle-rattling sacks.
"To tell you the truth, so was I," La Secla added.
On a night sponsored by Vacations Hawaii, playing against the University of Hawaii’s defensive line was definitely no vacation for the Spartans in a 41-7 loss to the Warriors.
"Those boys can really get after it," said La Secla, who was the one they mostly got after in recording a season-high eight sacks — seven by the defensive front — double the previous best and most since 2004. "It was rough."
The breakthrough pass rushing game we’ve been waiting to see from the Warriors materialized in a hurry last night with two sacks in the first three San Jose series and hardly let up as San Jose State was held to 164 yards total offense. It got to the point that there were aahs from the crowd when the Warriors didn’t get home to the quarterback.
And, in the end, there was polite, respectful applause for La Secla from the remnants of a crowd of 30,011, testament to his toughness and gameness in surviving the onslaught. Perhaps B.J. Penn’s sparring partners know the feeling.
Heaven — and the Spartans’ medical staff — knows San Jose State has endured a lot in this 1-10 (0-6 WAC) season. With stops at Alabama, Wisconsin, Nevada and Utah, Top 25 teams all, pain management has been part of the job.
But with only 18 previous sacks surrendered this season — and none in the last two games — this was different. With one sack every 16.2 pass attempts through the first 10 games, suddenly the Spartans were suffering them every 4.6 pass attempts. The Warriors packed more than a punch; they also brought a dogged perseverance and a to-the-whistle tenacity.
"To be honest, the way they came, I feel like we haven’t seen something like that this year," La Secla said. "They had a good scheme and everything, but I just feel like the way they rush is so different than any other we’ve seen. Just the way they get after it. They never give up. They just keep coming and (are) always moving. Usually when I break the pocket I can get upfield a little. (But) was I getting grabbed from behind, getting grabbed from the side. Those boys can move around."
It was in the 11th game of an 8-3 (6-1 WAC) season and after sorting through the running teams and finding themselves, the Warriors brought their "A" rush. If the Spartans’ offensive line was no match for them, well, the Warriors worked up a little competition of their own among themselves. After Falemalu got his first sack of the season, "the other guys wanted one, too," Falemalu said. Two other D-linemen, Elliot Purcell and Kamalu Umu, two each, also got them. "And, then, I wanted more, too," Falemalu said.
Assistant coach Tony Tuioti had been dreaming — and preaching — having a "breakout game like this. I felt it was something we were capable of. I wanted these guys to show what they could do and make all the hard work they do pay off," Tuioti said.
And La Secla’s jersey was, as much as the numbers on the scoreboard, Exhibit "A."
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.