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The ‘Iniki Game

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

September 12, 1992. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, the University of Hawaii football team had just carved out a hard-fought 6-3 victory over their WAC rival, the Air Force Academy. Instead of celebrating their big win, however – it was Hawaii’s first-ever road victory over the Falcons – the team’s thoughts were focused on what was happening some 3,340 miles away.

“This,” said senior defensive lineman Ma‘a Tanuvasa, “was for all the people back home, especially on the island of Kauai.”

In Hawaii, residents were still picking up the debris and assessing the damages caused by Hurricane ‘Iniki, which had struck the island chain the day before. The Category 4 hurricane, carrying winds of up to 145 mph, devastated the island of Kauai. The results were costly: six deaths and $3.1 billion in damages. To date, ‘Iniki remains the most powerful hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands.

Back in Colorado Springs, the UH coaches and players held a moment of silence before the game. Then head coach Bob Wagner encouraged his charges, saying simply, “Let’s go do something positive.”

The team had to take care of business. And they did.

Redshirt freshman Rodney Glover came off the bench for injured starting QB Michael Carter to direct the offense. Glover, who said before the season that his goal was simply to make the traveling squad, wasn’t spectacular, but he did enough – 11 of 22 passing attempts for 98 yards passing – to get the job done. Running back Travis Sims led the UH ground game with 113 rushing yards.

Hawaii’s only scores were a pair of short field goals by Jason Elam.

The UH defense, meanwhile, was stellar, holding the Falcons without a TD for the first time in nearly six years.

Two Rainbow Warriors – offensive lineman Kendall Goo and longsnapper Deacon Hansen – were from Kauai and had family members on the island.

“I have no idea if my family is all right or if I have a home when I go back,” Goo told the Honolulu Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis. “The hurricane has been on my mind a lot. It has been devastating. But the coaches and my teammates have been great, and this game was a way for me to take my mind off of it for a while.”

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