By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Web Editor.
This Saturday, the University of Hawaii football team takes on the Nevada Wolf Pack, a conference rival led by NFL QB prospect Carson Strong. Eleven years ago, the Rainbow Warriors faced a Wolf Pack team that also featured a future NFL QB in Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, a two-time WAC Offensive Player of the Year, would lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994 and set several league records as a dual-threat QB.
On that warm autumn night 11 years ago, however, the game belonged to Bryant Moniz.
Oct. 16, 2010: In front of 42,000 fans at Aloha Stadium, Hawaii held off 19th-ranked Nevada, 27-21, thanks to Moniz’s 3 TD passes, including a fourth-quarter 11-yard strike to Royce Pollard to help seal the victory. On the night, the former Leilehua star connected on 26 for 36 pass attempts for 287 yards and no interceptions. Kaepernick was 14 for 26 for 159 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
Hawaii’s ground attack was led by Alex Green, who rushed for 72 yards on 13 carries. Greg Salas led the receiving corps with 11 catches for 153 yards. Kealoha Pilates contributed 8 receptions for 67 yards and 2 TDs.
Kaepernick almost led the Wolf Pack to a come-from-behind. After he fired a 10-yard TD pass with just over three minutes remaining in the game, Nevada pulled to within six points. Then the Wolf Pack recovered the ensuing onside kick. With the game clock winding down, Kaepernick skillfully maneuvered his team to the UH 35. His next pass, however, a deep post route to All-WAC receiver Brandon Wimberly, was deflected by Hawaii safety Richard Torres. The ball fell directly into the waiting arms of another UH safety, Mana Silva.
After the game, UH defensive lineman Kaniala Tuipulotu told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai: “This was for all the doubters. We can play some damn good football. Nevada came in ranked 19th, but we played as one. That’s the most important number.”
The victory gave the Rainbow Warriors their fourth straight W and put them atop the WAC with a 3-0 conference record. They would finish the 2010 campaign with a 10-4 record and a share of the WAC title. Hawaii would fall to Tulsa (coached by current UH head coach Todd Graham) in the Hawaii Bowl.