Hawaii wraps up 7-7 year with bowl win at home

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kalani Takase

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.”

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