LAS CRUCES, N.M. >> On a chilly afternoon, as time was expiring on Hawaii’s 59-24 football victory over New Mexico State, a couple of players poured iced water on head coach Greg McMackin’s haircut.
"That was freezing," McMackin said.
It also was a douse of reality. In what felt like a surreal 24 hours, McMackin was not dreaming.
The Warriors did, indeed, clinch an improbable share of the Western Athletic Conference’s regular-season title.
And in the Warriors’ final conference game of 2010, running back Alex Green rushed for a school-record 327 yards, an astonishing accomplishment in a misleadingly labeled offense where "run" and "shoot" are not equal partners.
"Amazing," quarterback Bryant Moniz said of Green’s performance.
Green’s scoring runs of 11, 33 and 45 yards were not his longest gains. His 62-yard run set up Chizzy Dimude’s 12-yard touchdown reception, and his 71-yard smash-and-dash led to left slotback Greg Salas’ 3-yard scoring catch.
"Usually when you get all of these rushing yards, it’s the offensive line that gets the credit," left tackle Austin Hansen said. "We played hard, and we blocked hard, but the film will show my man broke tackles at the line of scrimmage and in the secondary. Alex had an outstanding game."
Green broke the 60-year-old record of 270 yards set by Peter Wilson.
He also became the first Warrior to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since the four-wide passing attack was implemented in 1999. UH’s last 1,000-yard rusher was Travis Sims, in 1992.
Asked if he could have imagined this sort of day, Green said, "Not at all. When I got up, I thought it was going to be a work day."
The Warriors admittedly had little time to sleep. It was past curfew Friday night when Nevada upset previously unbeaten Boise State in a nationally televised Western Athletic Conference game. The outcome left UH, Nevada and Boise State with one WAC loss each. The WAC does not have a tie-breaking system, instead awarding trophies to each regular-season co-champion.
As Nevada finalized its victory, the Warriors, who had been watching the game in their second-floor rooms at the El Paso Marriott, raced into the hallway to celebrate.
"It was crazy," right slotback Kealoha Pilares said. "We were cheering and pounding on the walls. We came out and were running up and down the halls. The other hotel guests were getting mad."
A hotel security officer called McMackin.
|UP NEXT: UNLV
Saturday 5:30 p.m. Aloha Stadium
"He said there were all kinds of noise on the floor," McMackin recalled. "It was our guys coming out of the room and high-fiving everybody. I apologized, and said, ‘They just got some good news.’ I had our coaches make sure (the players) got back into their rooms. But, shoot, I had a hard time going to sleep, too."
To be sure, the scenario served as a wake-up call.
McMackin had told the players a small crowd was expected for yesterday’s game against New Mexico State. He illustrated the point, holding Friday’s walk-through in the empty Aggie Memorial Stadium.
"He told us we had to find our own motivation," defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said. "When we were celebrating (Nevada’s victory), we knew that meant we had to beat New Mexico State. We knew that would be our motivation."
The Warriors also were fueled by the criticism dating to the loss to Wisconsin in their final game of 2009, an outcome that gave them a losing record.
"Everybody doubted us," said defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu, who redshirted in 2009 after transferring from Arizona. "We wanted to prove some people wrong."
On the 45-minute bus ride to Las Cruces, N.M., the Warriors envisioned their defensive plan. NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley, a 2010 Leilehua High graduate making his third consecutive start, is a strong thrower. Aware of Manley’s lack of NCAA experience, the Warriors wanted to pressure him with blitzes and overloaded-to-one-side pass rushes.
"I knew they were coming after me," Manley said. "We prepared for it."
The counter-strategy was "stick routes" — patterns to the first-down markers on throws off quick three-step drops.
Manley showed promise, earning time with bootlegs, but he was intercepted twice — once when linebacker Aaron Brown tipped a pass that was caught by defensive end Kamalu Umu, and the second time when Brown made the grab and raced 33 yards for a touchdown, diving the final yard.
"I thought somebody was behind me," said Brown, offering his motive for the dive that earned an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. "(Teammates) will back me up on that."
Manley said: "It was a great job by their defense."
"It was teamwork," Brown said.
That also was the theme on offense. Last week’s return of Pilares, who missed a game because of a strained left hamstring, opened the passing game. Pilares and Salas often work in tandem. Pilares, for instance, will run a crossing route in which he will brush the defender covering Salas.
"Kealoha does a good job of getting a little rub," Salas said of his touchdown play. "It’s one of our bread-and-butter plays."
The Warriors’ success in the passing game was, in fact, a sting operation. The Aggies were forced to replace a linebacker with a fifth defensive back, leaving them often with a 4-2 front. They played man-to-man on each of the four receivers, and placed a sole safety in deep coverage.
"Usually when we play man(-to-man) teams, that opens up the run game for us," running backs coach Brian Smith said.
Rolovich said the receivers ran decoy routes, pulling the defenders away from the middle of the field.
"That’s the easiest block in football," Rolovich said, noting a receiver does not have to make contact to clear space. "The receivers were unselfish. Once (Green) broke through (the line of scrimmage), he had a lot of room."
Salas said: "We want to run hard when we’re trying to run off (defenders). I just want to take my guy to the sideline, and watch A.G. run past."
Green made the most of his three types of runs: draws, zone reads and belly rush (trap plays to the middle). On one run, Green juked a middle linebacker to the grass. On another, Green faced a dead end of three defenders, but broke free, creating his own path to the end zone.
"He’s been running so hard lately," Smith said. "He does a great job of breaking tackles or making people miss. When he gets into open space, we know we have a chance for a big play."
Green said he was not aware of the records.
"I just wanted to win," he said.
But the coaches knew he was close to the milestones.
"They wanted to feed him," Moniz said. "He deserves it. He blocks for us all year. He saves me a lot of times with his blocks. When he has this kind of a game, he deserves to get the ball. I wanted to give him the ball, stand back and enjoy the view."
Green said he had set a goal of a 1,000-yard season when he signed with UH in 2009 as a junior college transfer. He was a backup to Leon Wright-Jackson in 2009.
"I knew I made the right choice coming here," Green said. "I knew that in 2009."
Now Green — and his teammates — are running in first place.
"People didn’t know what was going on inside our close-knit team," Pilares said. "From day one, we believed in each other. We were out to prove people wrong. This proves if you work hard, all of the pieces will fall into place. That’s exactly what happened this season. We have a piece of the championship."
|NET YARDS RUSHING||291||79|
|Average per rush||12.7||1.9|
|Yards gained rushing||338||115|
|Yards lost rushing||47||36|
|NET YARDS PASSING||315||135|
|Average per attempt||10.2||3.9|
|Average per completion||15.0||6.8|
|TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS||606||214|
|Total offensive plays||54||77|
|Average gain per play||11.2||2.8|
|Average yards per punt||51.0||37.3|
|Net yards per punt||51.0||37.3|
|Average yards per kickoff||56.7||59.4|
|Net yards per kickoff||33.4||41.2|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Average per return||0||0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yards-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Average per return||00.0||00.0|
|Fumbles returns: Number-Yards-TD||0-00-0||0-00-0|
|Third-down conversions||4 of 7||4 of 17|
|Fourth-down conversions||0 of 1||4 of 4|
|Sacks by: Number-Yards||3-20||2-9|
NEW MEXICO STATE
TACKLES FOR LOSS-YARDS — Hawaii, Brown 2-13, Correa 1.5-7, Bryant 1-4, Satele 0.5-3, Meatoga 1-2. New Mexico State, A. Powell 1-36, Fils 2-9, Savage 1-1, Aoelua 0.5-1, Finau 0.5-0.
SACKS-YARDS — Hawaii, Brown 1-10, Correa 1.5-7, Satele 0.5-3. New Mexico State, Fils 1-8, Savage 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS — Hawaii, Brown 1-33, Umu 1-16. New Mexico State, House 1-48.
KICKS BLOCKED — Hawaii, none. New Mexico State, none.
QUARTERBACK HURRIES — Hawaii, Brown 2, Correa, Monico. New Mexico State, none.
INDIVIDUAL OFFENSIVE STATISTICS
NEW MEXICO STATE
HAWAII Alex Green 11-yard run (Scott Enos kick), 7:01
>> Drive: 7 plays, 72 yards, 2:26 elapsed time
» Key plays: Bryant Moniz completes two passes of 40 and 10 yards to Greg Salas.
» Score: Hawaii 7, New Mexico State 0
HAWAII Scott Enos 27-yard field goal, 3:10
» Drive: 7 plays, 50 yards, 2:08 elapsed time
» Key plays: Green 30-yard rush to the New Mexico State 15.
» Score: Hawaii 10, New Mexico State 0
New Mexico State Marcus Allen 5-yard run (Tyler Stampler kick), 12:32
» Drive: 13 plays, 57 yards, 5:38 elapsed time » Key plays: Andrew Manley completes three passes of 12, 8 and 7 yards to Todd Lee for two first downs. » Score: Hawaii 10, New Mexico State 7
HAWAII Chizzy Dimude 12-yard pass from Moniz (Enos kick), 10:18
» Drive: 5 plays, 91 yards, 2:14 elapsed time » Key plays: Green 62-yard rush to the New Mexico State 12. » Score: Hawaii 17, New Mexico State 7
NEW MEXICO STATE Stampler 37-yard field goal, 5:12
» Drive: 11 plays, 40 yards, 5:06 elapsed time » Key plays: Lee 6-yard pass from Manley on fourth and 1. » Score: Hawaii 17, New Mexico State 10
HAWAII Green 45-yard run (Enos kick), 4:17
» Drive: 2 plays, 54 yards, 0:55 elapsed time » Score: Hawaii 24, New Mexico State 10
HAWAII Kealoha Pilares 14-yard pass from Moniz (Enos kick), 1:10
» Drive: 4 plays, 72 yards, 1:26 elapsed time » Key plays: Moniz completes two passes of 37 and 6 yards to Salas, then a 15-yard pass to Pilares that set up the touchdown » Score: Hawaii 31, New Mexico State 10
HAWAII Salas 3-yard pass from Moniz (Enos kick), 13:25
» Drive: 3 plays, 78 yards, 1:35 elapsed time » Key plays: Green 71-yard rush to the New Mexico State 7 yard line. » Score: Hawaii 38, New Mexico State 10
NEW MEXICO STATE Davon House 48-yard interception return (Stampler kick), 8:41
» Score: Hawaii 38, New Mexico State 17
HAWAII Royce Pollard 33-yard pass from Moniz (Enos kick), 6:25
» Drive: 4 plays, 69 yards, 2:16 elapsed time » Key plays: Salas 31-yard reception from Moniz. » Score: Hawaii 45, New Mexico State 17
HAWAII Green 33-yard run (Enos kick), 7:52
» Drive: 3 plays, 74 yards, 1:10 » Key plays: Green’s TD run puts him over 1,000 yards for the season. » Score: Hawaii 52, New Mexico State 17
HAWAII Aaron Brown 33-yard interception return, 5:06
» Score: Hawaii 59, New Mexico State 17
NEW MEXICO STATE Seth Smith 1-yard run (Stampler kick), 0:41
» Drive: 11 plays, 41 yards, 4:25 » Key plays: Kyle Nelson 12-yard pass from Manley on fourth and 7 » Score: Hawaii 59, New Mexico State 24
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
|New Mexico State||1||7||125||335||2||10||188||474|
|San Jose State||0||7||137||269||1||11||186||425|
Hawaii 59, New Mexico State 24
Louisiana Tech 45, San Jose State 38
Fresno State 23, Idaho 20
Illinois at Fresno State
An asterisk denotes Western Athletic Conference game; All times listed are Hawaii
|Sept. 2||Southern California||Aloha Stadium||L, 49-36|
|Sept. 11||at Army||Michie Stadium, West Point, N.Y.||W, 31-28|
|Sept. 18||at Colorado||Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo.||L, 31-13|
|Sept. 25||Charleston Southern||Aloha Stadium||W, 66-7|
|Oct. 2||Louisiana Tech*||Aloha Stadium||W, 42-21|
|Oct. 9||at Fresno State*||Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, Calif.||W, 49-27|
|Oct. 16||Nevada*||Aloha Stadium||W, 27-21|
|Oct. 23||at Utah State*||Romney Stadium, Logan, Utah||W, 45-7|
|Oct. 30||Idaho* (Homecoming)||Aloha Stadium||W, 45-10|
|Nov. 6||at Boise State*||Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho||L, 42-7|
|Nov. 20||San Jose State*||Aloha Stadium||W, 41-7|
|Nov. 27||at New Mexico State*||Aggie Memorial, Las Cruces, N.M.||W, 59-24|
|Dec. 4||UNLV||Aloha Stadium||5:30 p.m.|