Hawaii wraps up 7-7 year with bowl win at home
honolulu» Hawaii’s football team improved a lot this season with the guidance of coach Nick Rolovich, and it snapped a decade-long skid Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
Dru Brown threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns as Mountain West member Hawaii overcame an early deficit and beat Middle Tennessee State 52-35 in the Hawaii Bowl.
The Rainbow Warriors, who finished 7-7, gained 500 total yards against the Blue Raiders, set a season high for points scored and ended the year on a threegame win streak. They posted their first bowl win since 2006, an unlikely end to a season that began with losses in three of the first four games under Rolovich.
“It’s been up and down all year and there were a lot of times these kids could have quit and they stuck together, not only for the seniors, but for the fans and the supporters of Warrior football,” Rolovich said. “I’m grateful for their effort. I thought they represented the university very well, and I’m happy for them to go out with a win.”
Brown completed 20-of30 passes and didn’t throw an interception. He contributed a 2-yard touchdown run, and was sacked only once by the Blue Raiders. In his last two games, Brown had nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
“The offensive line played a solid role in that,” Brown said. “They played really well the last two games and really all year. Most of the time when the offense isn’t working, it’s my fault. I still think I made some mistakes (Saturday), but they just weren’t magnified. The receivers played great and the coaches called great plays.”
Tight end Metuisela Unga caught two of Brown’s scoring strikes, an 18-yarder in the first quarter for Hawaii’s first score and a 12yarder late in the third quarter.
Hawaii’s Diocemy Saint Juste contributed 170 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Hawaii turned three turnovers by the Blue Raiders into 21 points. It fell behind 14-0 just over five minutes into the game, but scored the next 28 points and never relinquished the lead.
“I think that’s been kind of a trend this year where we start off slow, but after those two scores we all came together on the sideline and said, ‘Enough is enough, let’s go,’ ” said Hawaii defensive lineman Kory Rasmussen.
Brent Stockstill started at quarterback for the Blue Raiders (8-5) after missing three games because of a broken collarbone. He finished 30-of-51 passing for 432 yards and four touchdown passes — two to Richie James. But he was intercepted twice.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed — disappointed for our seniors,” Stockstill said. “I played terrible in the first half and put us in a deep hole. We tried to come out of it, but we just didn’t make enough plays.”