By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Yes, Portland State can upset Hawaii. They’ve done it before.
The last time the Rainbow Warriors and Vikings met on the football field was Sept. 9, 2000. It was Hawaii’s season opener, and the program was coming off a storybook 1999 season in which the team went 9-4 and beat Oregon State in the Oahu Bowl. A sold-out crowd filled Aloha Stadium, expecting to see the home team easily dispatch the FCS school. The game was considered such a mismatch that it wasn’t even listed by the Las Vegas oddsmakers.
Final score: Portland State 45, Hawaii 20.
“This,” said UH defensive back Shawndel Tucker after the loss, “kind of sucked.”
The game started out well for Hawaii, as the Warriors raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. QB Nick Rolovich, making his UH debut, threw a 22-yard strike to receiver Ashley Leslie for the game’s first score, and placekicker Eric Hannum later followed up with a 24-yard field goal. But the contest took a sudden turn when Vikings safety Steve Morse stripped the ball from UH slotback Craig Stutzmann. Linebacker Tino Retamoza scooped up the fumble and ran 67 yards for the TD.
”I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s what turned the game,” PSU head coach Tim Walsh told the Honolulu Advertiser afterward.
The Vikings grabbed the momentum and never looked back, outscoring Hawaii 38-10 the rest of the way. They gained 217 rushing yards on 50 carries, adding another 235 yards through the air.
For Hawaii, Rolovich finished the game going 28 for 57 for 367 passing yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions.
It was Hawaii’s first loss to a non-Division IA school since 1976.
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