The University of Hawaii football team blocked a field goal as time expired for a heart-stopping 14-13 victory over Fresno State today at Bulldog Stadium.
The 43-yard attempt by Kody Kroening was blocked by Viane Moala to keep the Rainbow Warriors’ postseason hopes alive entering next weekend’s game against the University of Massachusetts. With the win, Hawaii is 5-7 this season and 4-4 in Mountain West Conference play. The Bulldogs dropped to 1-10 overall and 0-8 in league play.
>> Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Fresno State
Down 1 with 59 seconds left, Fresno State began its final drive at its own 25 after the kickoff went into the end zone. Fresno State quarterback Zach Kline led Fresno State to a first down at its own 39, but used up 25 seconds of clock in the process.
Two big completions later by Kline set up third-and-4 at the UH 38, but only 18 seconds remaining. A missed tackle by Jalen Rogers led to a huge completion by Kline to set up the 43-yard field goal by Kroening with five seconds left.
After the block, UH coach Nick Rolovich tried to console Kroening, who was devastated by the block.
The improbable win began earlier with UH trailing 13-7 with 3:33 remaining. Hawaii needed a touchdown to keep its postseason hopes alive with an offense that had 194 yards at that point in the game.
Starting at the UH 24, quarterback Dru Brown tried to find some magic on a night where the offense struggled against Fresno State’s defense. Once again, penalties forced second-and-long thanks to offensive lineman Dejon Allen, who had two holding penalties and one personal foul, accounting for 35 yards by himself in the game.
Despite that fact, Brown converted a huge fourth-and-4 at the UH 47, hitting Makoa Camanse-Stevens for 14 yards to the Fresno State 39. From there, Brown got a hot hand, completing a 17-yard pass to Marcus Kemp to the Fresno State 22 and then another 5-yarder to Kemp to set up second-and-6 at the 18 with 1:22 left.
Brown threw it away on second down and then Kemp dropped the football in the end zone, but a roughing the passer penalty set up a first-and-goal at the 9. Brown found John Ursua for 7 to the 2 and then Steve Lakalaka went in for the score with 59 seconds left. Sanchez hit the PAT to make it 14-13 Hawaii.
Down 10-7 to start the final quarter, the Hawaii offense tried to shake the doldrums with running back Diocemy Saint Juste seeing playing time for the first time in three weeks because of shoulder problems.
His fresh legs appeared to lift the offense as the Rainbow Warriors moved into Fresno State territory before a holding penalty stalled the drive. It was the 10th flag of the game for the Warriors, and eventually led to Sanchez’s eighth punt as Fresno State started the drive at its own 12 with 9:39 left.
From there, the Red Wave went on a long march thanks to the power running of Josh Hoskit and Dontel James — nothing fancy, just good run-blocking in a critical juncture of the game. Kline also got in the mix as a pair of nice runs put the Bulldogs into Hawaii territory at the 46.
But a false start on second down led to a third-and-6 that the Bulldogs picked up on a nice 18-yard pass play to KeeSean Johnson that led to a 20-yard scamper by Kline on the next play to pick up a first down at the 12.
But the defense held, forcing a 27-yard field goal by Kroening to make it 13-7 Fresno State with 3:41 remaining. The drive was 78 yards and 14 plays, but Hawaii still had a chance.