Vandals fall in finale at Hawaii

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com

Despite the team's admirable effort in Hawai'i Saturday night (including senior tightend <b>Willie Sipoloa</b> filling in at runningback in Idaho's injury decimated backfield), the Vandals came up short in Honolulu. Down 38-21 at the half, Idaho eventually fell to the Warriors 52-21 to end the season.

Using a couple of surprising plays the Idaho Vandals swapped leads with the Hawai'i Warriors in the early going Saturday night, but in the end the Warriors had too much team speed - and too much Timmy Chang - to overcome prevailing 52-21.

The Vandals finished the season at 3-9 while the tough-at-home Warriors balanced their record at 5-5 to keep their bowl hopes alive.

After yielding a field goal to the Warriors on their first possession, the Vandals drove to the Hawaii 20 where, faced with a fourth down situation, coach Nick Holt sent in kicker Mike Barrow who set up for an apparent 27-yard field goal attempt. However, holder Michael Harrington rolled out and hit Willie Sipoloa with an 11-yard pass for a first down to keep the drive alive. Harrington capped the drive by hitting Bobbie Bernal-Wood on an 8-yard TD pass. Barrow's kick made it 7-3 Vandals.

The lead didn't last long. Chang moved the Warriors 72 yard in only 3 plays taking only 50 seconds scoring on a 27-yard pass play to regain the lead.

The Vandals clawed back to recapture the lead moving 84 yards in 2 plays aided by a personal foul penalty when Brian Yarno was hit out of bounds. This time the Vandals pulled off a double pass with Harrington firing a lateral to true freshman receiver Desmond Belton who pulled up and lofted a perfect 26-yard scoring pass to fellow true freshman Christan Populis which, coupled with Barrow's kick, made it 14-10 Vandals with 5:08 remaining in the first period.

After trading turnovers with the Vandals, Hawaii again regained the lead seconds into the second period on 22-yard pass play and later increased their lead to 10 on a 16-yard Chang TD pass followed three minutes later by a 13-yard TD pass to lead 31-14.

Idaho answered back when the Vandals, sparked by Rollie Lumbala's 48 rushing yards on just 4 carries, moved 80 yards in 8 plays including a 14-yard TD pass from Harrington to Bernal-Woods to cut the deficit to 31-21, but that would the closest the Vandals would come as Chang continued to display his passing skills eventually completing 23 of 31 passes for 376 yards and 6 TD before exiting the game in the fourth quarter. The Vandals picked off two of his passes.

Vandal coach Nick Holt praised Chang. "He's a great player," Holt said. Holt said the Vandals' offensive game plan worked well but they couldn't sustain things in the second half. "In the first half," Holt said, "we moved the ball. We had a good plan. The second half we didn't get anything going. They started blitzing us and we didn't pick it up very well."

One highlight for Idaho was delivered by Bobby Bernal-Woods who caught 9 more passes for 139 yards and 2 TDs. This game gave Bobby 96 catches for the season, erasing a Vandal record that had stood for 35 years: 95 receptions by All-American Jerry Hendren (who went on to play 4 years for the Denver Broncos) in 1969. Harrington was also close to a UI single-season record finishing the season with a completion percentage of 65.8% second only to Rick Sloan's 68.1% in 1985. J.R. Ruffin likewise came close to eclipsing a Vandal record by returning 35 kickoffs good for second place on the all-time UI list behind Cedric Thompson who returned 36 in 2002.

Individual leaders for the Vandals included Lumbala who netted 90 yards in 12 carries in relief of Sipoloa who carried 12 times for 44 yards in addition to catching 5 passes for 47 yards and a TD. Defensively junior Cole Snyder turned in another tremendous effort at linebacker finishing with 9 solo tackles, 2 assists, and a sack.




LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Legendary play-by-play man Bob Curtis calls his last game for the Vandals in Hawai'i. After 59 years and 540 games, Mr. Curtis is calling it a career. He will be missed, but we're sure he will still be watching and listening!



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Congratulations to Peggy Jones, who won the highest bid to join Bob in the booth as his statistician for this game. Between them is Vandal Scholarship Fund Development Coordinator Mahmood Sheikh (center).



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Pre-game luau.



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Injured but still battling, true-freshman runningback Rolly Lumbala fights for yards. Rolly ended the night with 12 carries for 93 yards and a long of 30 yards.



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Quarterback Michael Harrington eludes a Warrior defender while connecting with sophomore tighend Luke Smith-Anderson.



RONEN ZILBERMAN / AP
Senior defensive end Curtis Bibolet works on one of his TWO sacks on the night.



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
True freshman safety Brandon Ogletree on kick return protection.



LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Senior starting cornerback and kick returner J.R. Ruffin.


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