Ferd Lewis: Rout in Reno raises Hawaii’s hopes for Boise trip
“On to Boise!” was a popular — and telling — refrain as the University of Hawaii football team triumphantly made its way out of Nevada’s frigid Mackay Stadium and into the warmth of the visitors locker room late Saturday night.
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RENO, Nev. >> “On to Boise!” was a popular — and telling — refrain as the University of Hawaii football team triumphantly made its way out of Nevada’s frigid Mackay Stadium and into the warmth of the visitors locker room late Saturday night.
Usually the Rainbow Warriors eagerly look forward to an open date on the schedule when one awaits them, not another trip into the chilly Mountain Time Zone.
But this was not business as usual for the Warriors. After laying waste to the Wolf Pack’s homecoming, 54-3, UH was already looking past this open week to the challenge that awaits Oct. 12 in Boise, Idaho.
Inspired by the triumph in Nevada, a place where their predecessors had gone 1-8, this team relished the opportunity to test itself against bigger game in Boise, where UH has not won at all in six appearances.
The 16th-ranked Broncos (4-0) and the formidable task of playing them on the smurf turf in Boise will be the next measuring stick for this 4-1 team. It is one, in the euphoria of the moment Saturday, the Warriors welcomed.
Head coach Nick Rolovich paid tribute to the focus and ferocity his team brought with it to Reno and hoped the success experienced would carry over in two weeks. “Hopefully, the mind-set for Boise is like (Nevada),” Rolovich said watching his players celebrate.
“We can enjoy this one but not too much because we have a big one ahead of us,” Rolovich said. “They (the Broncos) have a pretty good legend and, if we’re even a bit hesitant or unsure getting on the plane, then we’ll get run out of the stadium.”
Running back Fred Holly III, back again running with authority in a bruising 63-yard effort in which he averaged 5.7 yards per carry, said, “I don’t want to speak too early. But, I feel like if we keep taking care of the football and our defense keeps playing the way they do, there could be some special things in our future.”
By winning against Nevada, a team that had been picked to finish above it in a conference preseason poll, UH served notice in the MWC opener for both teams that the Warriors are contenders for their first West Division title in the conference.
UH has finished no higher than second in the six-team division in seven previous years of MWC membership. But, if UH can perform to a standard similar to what was exhibited Saturday, things have the potential to set up very well.
For one thing, the two teams that have won the division during UH’s tenure and constitute the two biggest roadblocks, Fresno State and San Diego State, come to Aloha Stadium this season.
If UH can take care of business with them and sidestep the trapdoor games, the Warriors could find themselves in Boise twice this season, once for the regular-season matchup and again Dec. 7 for the MWC championship game.
The title game will be played at the home stadium of the divisional champion with the highest win percentage in conference games, according to the MWC policy.
Holly said, “I feel like we love rising to the occasion of challenges. We love going somewhere when we’re against all the odds, the weather, the (elevation), just like this place (Nevada).”
FLIGHT CHANGE DELAYS TEAM’S RETURN
The University of Hawaii football team had to wait a few extra hours before celebrating Saturday’s win over Nevada with friends and family awaiting their return to Oahu.
According to the team’s official Twitter account, the airplane carrying the team from San Francisco to Honolulu was forced to turn around due to a “mechanical problem.”
The update added that the flight “returned safely” to San Francisco and the team was rebooked on another flight. The Warriors arrived in Honolulu at 4:48 p.m., about five hours later than originally scheduled.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 529-4820.