“We’re exhausted” came the first exclamation to Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich as the Na Koa meeting crowd greeted him.
Coach Rolo said the San Jose State game was the “toughest, most difficult game and against one of (my) best friends (Coach Brent Brennan).” There were a few times when Coach Rolo felt they could not lose, and times when the sentiment was teetering.
The team was counseled throughout practice that playing SJSU at home created strange mojo so the constant message was to stay together. “We knew it was a tough game, but we did not panic, and we stayed together.”
Early on there were miscommunications at the receiver positions. Two touchdown opportunities were lost because of using wrong angles, and not getting the message for a play. “We did not focus in” said Coach Rolo. Our depth on routes, and our releases still need work. Still, Wide out Jojo Ward had the best half (second half)of his career, and Slot Cedric Byrd is best at knowing what to do.
Quarterback Cole McDonald had problems of his own with an interception that slipped out of his hands, and missing a TD pass with a screwball (like in baseball) toss which happens when his hands are too low and a quick decision is made. Yet, what a gamer flipping shovel-like passes for a two point conversion and for a TD.
Must not forget the defense! They harassed Spartan Quarterback Josh Love all game taking him down for five sacks; one each by Jahlani Tavai, Kalen Hicks, and Kendall Hune, and two by Kaimana Padello. The 235 pound rush end took on a 300+ pound tackle with leverage and heart. Padello was also credited with 3.5 tackles for loss.
With such a great defensive effort, it was a good thing the O line tacked the SJSU player who scooped up McDonald’s fumble as time ran out in regulation.
Unfazed, JR Hensley, Noah Borden, Zeno Choi, and Jahlani Tavai were immediately ready to march to midfield for the OT coin toss. And the Warriors got down to business riding Dayton Furuta’s power runs into the endzone to take the lead. Unfamiliar with OT play, kicker Ryan Meskell had to be summoned onto the field for the PAT. An omen of things to come. Oh yes, he thought he had to kick off too.
After the Spartans tied it, the roller coaster ride ensued with both kickers missing field goals in the second and third OT periods, and both making their field goals in the fourth OT. The rest is a five OT win that goes into the history book.
Rolo marveled that a kicker who missed two field goals and a PAT is the Mountain West Conference’s Special Teams player of the week. Then again, no one will begrudge Meskell that after making his second and final field goal of the game!
The Warriors stormed the stands to their fans following the SJSU field goal miss!
Unable to acknowledge the Hawaii faithfuls who traveled to the Army game, Coach Rolo texted the team the night before the game and said “know how fans storm the field (after a great victory)? Well, after we win we are going to storm the stands after shaking hands.
At the suggestion of one in the crowd, Rolo will welcome Wyoming to ZERO ELEVATION!!!
Written by Gareth Sakakida