Defensive Tackle Viane Moala owed Head Coach Nick Rolovich for breaking his pinkie during warm ups at the Bulldog Stadium in Fresno. (Coach Rolo arrived at today’s final Coach’s Lunch at the Willows with his right hand bandaged.) It all happened when Rolovich and the cornerbacks were tossing balls at the crossbar and started heading into the locker room when Rolovich heard the boom of a high kick which he spotted and attempted an over the shoulder catch. Somehow the pinkie got in the way and snapped on impact. Coach then proclaimed “you owe me” to Moala. The debt was paid big time when Moala fought his way through the Bulldog field goal line and stretched his left branch (his nickname is “Tree”) into the sky to knock down the game winning field goal try!!
Rolovich also played a role in the failed field goal calling timeout when jumper Marcus Kemp, counting players, realized he was number 12 and started sprinting off the field. That timeout served to “ice” the kicker which was the topic of great debate between the staff. Twelve players on the field made the decision for them but Rolo said “we couldn’t take a chance on blocking the kick then getting a penalty.”
Before all of that, both offenses struggled mightily throughout the game. Hawai’i collected 11 penalties and had one turnover. The coaching staff tried to be detailed about the discipline needed to combat those penalties. A lunch attendee suggested pushups for the team for each personal foul…Rolo said that might start tomorrow.
Still Rolovich felt the offense played well when we needed it. The defense also played well overall but late in the game it could have gone either way. After Steven Lakalaka’s second touchdown run, the play was being reviewed and Defensive Coordinator Kevin Lempa lobbied for running time off the clock. Following the TD, a leaping penalty prompted a kick-off from the 50 yard line where Rolovich made the call to kick it into the end zone and let the defense play. In hindsight he would have considered a sky kick.
Fresno State had a gutsy rushing performance by a converted linebacker and called some gutsy plays like the lateral for the touchdown reception. The Hawai’i offensive linemen admired the play as much as Rolovich and asked if it could be placed in their play book!
Linebacker Jeremiah Pritchard can play the next game after being disqualified on a thrown punch. Rolovich ordered Pritchard escorted into the locker room before any announcement of the disqualification to get him through the tunnel before the “colorful” fans could gather.
Hawai’i football concludes the regular season with the University of Massachusetts. Be sure to get everyone out to the stadium and cheer for a possible Hawai’i Bowl berth and certainly for Senior Night. After seasons of struggle, the seniors deserve to be sent off on a high note.
Following Senior Night, the regular season wraps up with the Annual Alec Waterhouse Memorial Awards Banquet on Sunday at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery.
Written by Gareth Sakakida