As Hawaii prepares to face Army today at Michie Stadium, it’s a good time to take a look back at the Rainbow Warriors’ only trip to West Point to date.
That Sept. 11, 2010, meeting sure left some lasting memories.
In this week’s “Football Throwbacks,” UH’s 31-28 road win is remembered as one of UH’s most remarkable under coach Greg McMackin during a his most successful (10-4, 7-1 WAC) season. And it was by far the most closely contested of a young head-to-head series — the first meeting was at Aloha Stadium in 2003 — that UH leads 3-0.
Kicker Scott Enos won it with a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds left, as UH somehow escaped with a victory after Army had all the late-game momentum, at home, on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
With the Corps of Cadets keeping close watch, UH came out looking well in command, getting off to a 21-0 start behind the arm of Bryant Moniz, who threw three touchdowns and no interceptions. Royce Pollard, Rodney Bradley and Kealoha Pilares were his scoring targets.
Then Army called an audible and went away from its traditional triple-option offense — which UH had defended well — and got rolling with multiple and to-that-point unseen formations under coach Rich Ellerson, such as fly sweeps and play-action passes. The Black Knights scored 28 straight points, and after UH tied it up on Alex Green’s 3-yard TD late in the third quarter, the Knights had a couple chances to get the go-ahead score.
But freshman John Hardy-Tuliau blocked the first of many field goals in his UH career, a 37-yard attempt.
Then, on Army’s next and best chance, defensive Kamalu Umu forced Army backup quarterback Max Jenkins to fumble — Jenkins, who already had a TD rush, was in for injured starter Trent Steelman — and Mana Silva pounced on it at the UH 27 with 24 seconds left. It required a lengthy replay review before UH was awarded possession, but finally UH had a chance to steal the game.
“I held it like it was a newborn baby,” Silva told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai.
A couple of Moniz hitch-and-go passes to Pollard, for 13 and 31 yards, plus a 15-yard late-hit personal foul on the Knights, swiftly moved UH into field-goal range.
Enos, who’d missed a similar try in an agonizingly close loss to UNLV the season before, made good on this one.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Enos said. “Right when I hit it, I knew it was going through.”
Moniz threw for 343 yards — all but 10 of UH’s yards of total offense — while Army rolled to 250 on the ground and 58 in the air. The Knights dominated time of possession, at nearly 38 minutes to UH’s 22. In the fourth quarter, they held the ball for an eye-popping 13:13 of the clock compared to 1:47 for the Rainbow Warriors.
But UH made its time count.
UH improved to 1-1 on the season, though it would lose at Colorado the next week as part of the same lengthy road trip. Army dropped to 1-1, but would finish the 2010 season at 7-6 season under Ellerson, a former UH player and assistant coach. That included a 16-14 win over SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl, Army’s first bowl game win since 1985.
“Football never ceases to amaze you,” associate head coach Rich Miano said. “It was so exciting, it stops your heart. There were so many changes in emotion. We were up early, and then they got the momentum. And we finally make a play at the end and get the ball back. We worked for 59 minutes and didn’t get any turnovers. And we get our turnover in the 60th minute. That’s amazing.”