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|Tech falls to Hawaii, 41-21|
HONOLULU - Bryant Moniz passed for 532 yards and four scores to lead Hawaii to a 41-21 win over Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Aloha Stadium late Saturday night.
With the loss, Tech fell to 1-4 on the season and has now lost nine straight road games dating back to a victory at New Mexico State in 2008. Hawaii, who entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country in passing, improved to 3-2 on the year.
The Warriors used a prolific passing attack and a stellar defensive effort over the first quarter and a half to jump out to a 24-0 lead before Bulldog head coach Sonny Dykes went to the bench to senior signal caller Ross Jenkins, who sparked the LA Tech offense.
Jenkins, who hadn't taken a snap from center since the third quarter of the season opening win over Grambling State, promptly led the Bulldogs on a 10-play, 80-yard drive which was capped by a 32-yard scoring strike to Richie Casey as the deficit was cut to 24-7 with 2:49 to play in the second quarter.
After the Bulldogs defense recovered a fumble with less than a minute to play, Jenkins almost led Tech to its second score of the half thanks to some creative play calling late.
With only three seconds to play in the half and the football on the Tech 42-yard line, Jenkins completed a short pass to Taulib Ikharo who pitched the football to Phillip Livas, who then shoveled it to Lennon Creer who scampered down the sideline before being pushed out at the UH 20 by the final Warriors defender in the vicinity.
Although Tech trailed 24-7, the Bulldogs had some momentum and confidence heading into the locker room.
Jenkins and Co. then picked up where it left off in the third quarter as the Bulldogs drove 75 yards on 11 plays on its opening possession to cut the lead to 24-13 on Ray Holley's one-yard plunge with 11:59 to play. Matt Nelson's extra point made the score 24-14.
The touchdown marked the first time Tech had scored on the opening possession of the second half this season.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of coming back and giving ourselves a chance in the second half," Dyke said. "We got down so fast and played so poorly early in the ball game. Our kids really played hard and had a chance to get back in the game.
"We just couldn't quite make a play or two--couldn't convert a fourth down when we had a chance, got a turnover and couldn't do much with it. That's just a sign of our inconsistencies that's kind of been plaguing us all year. But I thought our kids really played hard, especially in the second half. It's been a long trip, and I thought they gave great effort across the board tonight."
However, Tech's momentum was short-lived as Moniz orchestrated a 5-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 19-yard touchdown pass to Greg Salas as UH upped the lead back to 31-14. Tech would get no closer than 34-21 on a Jenkins eight-yard toss to Tim Molten late in the third quarter.
Moniz capped the scoring with a 29-yard scoring toss to Salas, who broke two tackles around the 20-yard line and then raced untouched into the end zone.
UH receiver Kealoha Pilares set a program record with 18 catches on the night for 204 yards and two scores while Salas added 10 receptions for 197 yards and two scores.
"I think (Hawai`i's) receivers are outstanding," Dykes said. "That's as good a group of receivers as I've seen. They're fun players to watch, their quarterback's really good. When they're operating at this level like they were tonight, they're going to be a very difficult team to beat, especially over here. They play well at home. If they can continue to execute at this level, they'll give people headaches."
Jenkins finished the night completing 19-of-26 passes for 215 yards, two scores and one interception. Casey led Tech's receiving corps with a career-high eight receptions for 98 yards and one score.
Myke Compton rushed eight times for 58 yards while Creer added 12 carries for 57 yards in the game.
"I talked with Sonny Dykes and I thought their guys played really hard," said UH head coach Greg MacMackin. "Most teams come in here and they get tired by the fourth quarter, but they got stronger in the fourth."
Chad Boyd and Jay Dudley led the Tech defense with seven tackles each followed by Tank Calais and Olajuwon Paige with six stops each. Adrien Cole and Matt Broha each registered one sack while Broha added a fumble recovery.
Tech returns to action next weekend when it hosts Utah State at 3 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium.
(Report courtesy latechsports.com)