“This is Special”

“This is Special”

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

The University of Hawaii football team is back on the road this week. They’ll take on Oregon State of the Pac-12 tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. HST. The Beavers lead the overall series against Hawaii, 7-4.

For Rainbow Warrior fans, of those four victories over OSU, one in particular stands out.

It was Christmas Day 1999, and the two schools squared off in the Jeep Oahu Bowl. The 7-4 Beavers, led by future NFL head coach Dennis Erickson, came into the contest as a slight favorite. Hawaii, meanwhile, was 9-3 and looking to cap their historic turnaround season – UH went 0-12 the previous season – with a bowl victory.

More than 40,000 fans filled Aloha Stadium, with most hoping to see the Warriors deliver a “Season’s Beatings” on OSU. Oregon State scored first, however, as RB Ken Simonton rumbled into the end zone from the UH 1. Hawaii finally got on the board early in the second quarter, after defensive lineman Tony Tuioti recovered a fumble deep in OSU territory. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Eric Hannum – the first of his three FGs in the game.

The Rainbow Warriors went ahead midway through the second, with QB Dan Robinson finding receiver Channon Harris for a 9-yard TD. A Beaver FG tied the game, 10-10, to end the half.

In the second half, UH scored 13 uninterrupted points to put the game away. Robinson, who was battling an injured shoulder, connected with Harris again, this time on a 30-yard scoring strike. Offensive lineman Manly Kanoa noted to Honolulu Advertiser writer Stephen Tsai after the game, “I didn’t think [Robinson] would make it through the game, but he stuck through like a champion.”

The Hawaii defense stifled OSU for most of the game, collecting 6 QB sacks. UH RB Avion Weaver was named the contest’s Most Outstanding Player after rushing for 84 yards and picking up another 65 in receptions.

Final score: Hawaii 23, Oregon State 17.

It was the perfect way to end the season for first-year head coach June Jones. “This team has been real resilient,” he told Tsai afterward. “They hung in there all year. We talked about going for broke, laying it on the line for each other. There has never been a season like this for me, and there will never be another one like this. This is special.”

#          #          #