Sunday, December 09, 2001

Hawaii 72, No. 9 BYU 45

So much for 13-0...

Associated Press Writer

Hawaii's Nick Rolovich threw eight touchdowns
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        HONOLULU — Nick Rolovich did his best to prove that bowl organizers made a mistake by passing up Hawaii.

        Rolovich threw eight touchdown passes and Chad Owens scored on kickoff and punt returns as Hawaii ended No. 9 BYU's bid for a perfect season with a 72-45 victory Saturday.

        “We can't do anything personally about bowls, except put on the show we did,” said Rolovich, who played his final game for Hawaii. “I think people want to see us in a bowl game, but what can we do?”

        BYU coach Gary Crowton agreed.

        “It's a travesty these guys aren't in a bowl game at 9-3 because they're a very good football team,” Crowton said.

        Hawaii ended BYU's winning streak at 14 with the highest point total ever against the Cougars (12-1), who will play Louisville in the Liberty Bowl.

        Rolovich, 8-1 since taking over as the starter, was 29-of-52 for 543 yards. He has passed for 20 TDs and 1,548 yards in the last three games. During that stretch, Hawaii has scored 176 points.

        Owens got the rout started with his returns.

        In topping the NCAA mark for combined return yards, the freshman returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and took a punt 74 yards for another.

        Owens, who came into the game ranked fourth in the nation in kick returns, finished with 342 yards — 249 on kickoffs and 93 on punt returns. The total bettered the mark of 284 set by Tutu Atwell of Minnesota in 1997.

        “I didn't have to do too much because of the blocking,” Owens said. “I just had to run. I guess you could say I was feeling it.”

        Warriors coach June Jones said the game was Hawaii's bowl game.

        “To win this one in this stadium means a lot to these guys,” Jones said. “They'll never forget it. I'm proud that the kids did what they did. They played their rear ends off.”

        Brigham Young, which entered the game averaging 537.1 yards in total offense and 46.9 points, played without Luke Staley, the star running back who broke his leg last week.

        “Anytime you lose one of your better players, it's tough,” Crowton said. “We didn't have him and we didn't have Brandon Doman for half the game. But you know what, I don't want to make any excuses.

        “I just want to give them a lot of credit and we need to learn from it and move forward and get ready for our bowl game.”

        BYU also was hampered by turnovers, with four of them leading to Hawaii touchdowns.

        The sellout crowd, which chanted “Overrated! Overrated!” to the Cougars throughout the game, had barely settled in when Owens took charge. He returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to the BYU 32 to set up Rolovich's 23-yard TD pass to Channon Harris.

        After BYU failed to move on its first possession, Owens made it 14-0, returning Aaron Edmonds' punt 74 yards for a TD.

        The Cougars made it 14-10 on Matt Payne's 44-yard field goal and Doman's 24-yard scoring pass to Spencer Nead, but Owens put the game out of reach with his 100-yard kickoff return.

        Hawaii made 31-10 at the half, with Justin Ayat kicking a 45-yard field goal and Rolovich hooking up with Ashley Lelie on a 15-yard scoring pass. Lelie, ranked third nationally with 131.9 yards per game, caught eight passes for 262 yards.

        The Rainbow Warriors scored 27 points in the third quarter, including Rolovich's 80-yard TD pass to Lelie. The Cougars scored 21 points in the quarter.

        Doman, who entered the game with 3,316 yards passing, finished with 226 yards on 17 completions and a pair of TDs. He left the game with an injury to his ribs.

        Charlie Peterson filled in for most of the second half and finished with 22 completions for 284 yards and two scores.

        Staley's absence forced the Cougars to run more plays to receiver Reno Mahe, who finished with 14 catches for 181 yards and two TDs. He also had 69 yards on eight carries.

        “They were the better team today. We just beat ourselves,” Mahe said. “I don't know how you win a game with eight turnovers, and then you can only try so much. But I'm glad our team just kept fighting.”


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