Hawaii and today’s opponent, Duquesne of the Football Championship Subdivision, have never encountered each other on a football field, so that makes going through the series history and picking a game to highlight a little challenging.
What we can look at in this week’s “Football Throwbacks” edition is Hawaii against the crop of FCS teams it has faced.
Hawaii has won its last 15 games against FCS opponents going back to 2001; in 2000, it lost to Portland State 45-20. Over the 15-game span, UH has outscored those foes 699-255, winning by 29.6 points per game.
Having an FCS team on an FBS team’s schedule has become more acceptable over time. It’s like getting used to seeing Hawaii Hilo on a basketball schedule every year.
Being that the 2018 class of the UH Sports Circle of Honor is being inducted this weekend — and the 2007 Sugar Bowl Warriors will be specially honored at the game — why not look at an FCS team that UH thumped that unbeaten regular season?
We have two choices, as UH, in a no-no-no-yes schedule crafted by athletic director Herman Frazier, played two FCS teams that season — Northern Colorado (63-6) in the opener and Charleston Southern (66-10) four games in.
Northern Colorado it is.
UH, coming off a very successful 2006 season (11-3, 7-1 WAC) and getting an emotional return by Colt Brennan for his senior year that offseason, looked to get the party started with a bang.
Wrote the Honolulu Star-Bulletin’s Dave Reardon, “This is what might happen if a 17-year-old kid plays a video game against his grandmother. Make that his great grandmother, who has no thumbs.”
Brennan threw for 416 yards and six touchdowns — in the first half. To the disbelief of many in the press box, he and a few teammates came out for the second half in street clothes, which became an indelible moment from that season.
The future Heisman Trophy finalist spread around the ball effectively, as Kealoha Pilares, Jason Rivers, C.J. Hawthorne, Davone Bess (two) and Ryan Grice-Mullen all benefited with receiving touchdowns. Grice-Mullen had game highs of nine catches and 130 yards.
“There were holes. There are always going to be holes. We were able to know where the holes were and capitalize,” Brennan told the Honolulu Advertiser.
Mike Washington and Malcolm Lane scored on punt (80 yards) and kickoff (94) returns for good measure, as the Warriors led the Big Sky Conference team 28-0 after a quarter and 42-0 at halftime.
Defensively, Brad Kalilimoku led the way for new defensive coordinator (well, returned from an eight-year hiatus) Greg McMackin’s blitzing 4-3 scheme with nine tackles and a forced fumble.
The Bears, who were a Division II team just a couple years before, were held to 182 yards, and 2.9 yards per play. They tried to go basic when their other schemes weren’t working under coach Scott Downing and quarterback Dominic Breazeale. The Bears would go on to be 1-11 that season, with their lone win over Montana State.
“They kept trying to run the ball down the middle,” defensive tackle Mike Lafaele said. “We weren’t having none of that. We played hard-nosed football.”
Said linebacker Adam Leonard, “We want to make our mark. We want to set the tone for the season.”
But maybe most of all, Brennan coming out for the second half in a cap, T-shirt and shorts had the place abuzz.
“I probably give more freedom to our guys to do that kind of stuff than most coaches,” June Jones said. “But if (Northern Colorado) made a run at us, he would’ve been back in there with his uniform on.”
Here’s PDFs of what appeared in the local newspapers the next day.
Advertiser Northern Colorado W1
Advertiser Northern Colorado W3
Advertiser Northern Colorado W4
Bulletin Northern Colorado B1
Bulletin Northern Colorado B2
Bulletin Northern Colorado B3