for this game

Hawaii rallies, completes perfect regular season

Dec 2, 2007 - 9:41 AM HONOLULU (Ticker) -- Hawaii's offense appeared to feel the pressure of a nation watching it strive for perfection. As usual, Colt Brennan stepped up late to make sure his team did everything it could to secure a Bowl Championship Series berth.

Brennan threw for 442 yards and five touchdowns - orchestrating a comeback from a large first-half deficit - to lead 11th-ranked Hawaii to a 35-28 victory over Washington on Saturday.

With their win over the Huskies, the Warriors (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season in school history and made their claim for inclusion to a BCS bowl game as the owners of the lone perfect record in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"What a win! It hasn't soaked in yet," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "(The team) was committed to getting a win tonight. They played hard and I can't be more proud of them. It's unbelievable. The (regular season) could not have ended better."

Brennan completed a 21-point comeback when he hit Jason Rivers for a 40-yard TD strike to knot the score at 28-28. It was the tandem's fourth touchdown connection of the night.

Rivers finished with a season-high 14 receptions for 167 yards.

"I think (Washington) keyed on Davone (Bess) and Ryan (Grice-Mullen), which meant I was going to be the man open most of the night," Rivers said. "I got a lot of short routes and made the best of them. They just kept leaving me open. I'm just so happy."

Brennan then gave the Warriors their only lead of the game at 35-28, tossing his final TD pass of the contest to Ryan Grice-Mullen from five yards out with 44 seconds remaining.

"I had called a run play, but Colt said that he knew (Washington) would be in man and wanted to call a 'go' route, so we went with it," Jones said.

"Coach Jones trusted me on that last call," Brennan said. "I told coach 'we got 'em' so I changed it to a pass play because I knew they were going to be in man. I've got the most talented receiving corps in the nation. People can't play us man-to-man."

Despite having just 30 seconds to work with to send the game into overtime, Washington quarterback Jake Locker hit tight end Michael Gottlieb for 25 yards and Marcel Reece down the left sideline for 49 yards to move the ball to the Hawaii 6.

However, Locker was dropped for a two-yard loss on the next play and after a Huskies' timeout, the quarterback was intercepted by defensive back Ryan Mouton in the end zone to seal the win for the Warriors.

While Hawaii was able to win its NCAA-best 13th consecutive game, the Warriors' inability to hold onto the ball early made the going much tougher than most imagined as they fumbled on three of their first four possessions.

Despite turning just one of those three first-quarter turnovers into points, the Huskies held a commanding 21-0 advantage after the opening period because of a strong running game that compiled 131 yards and three TDs on 22 carries in the game's first 15 minutes.

Facing their largest deficit of the season, Hawaii chipped away at the Washington's 21-point lead with its first drive of the second quarter, as it completed a 10-play, 83-yard drive when receiver Jason Rivers caught Brennan's 127th career TD pass to cut the Huskies' lead to 21-7.

After a one-yard TD plunge from Washington fullback Paul Homer restored the three-score lead at 28-7 with 7:08 left in the second period, Brennan and Rivers connected two more times from three and 13 yards out before intermission - the last one with 21 seconds remaining in the half - to trim the Huskies' lead to 28-21.

"I think the turning point in the game was the third TD (to Jason Rivers)," Jones said. "That's when I knew we were going to win."

Early in the third period, Brennan - who finished 42-of-50 - set another school record when he completed his 20th consecutive pass to Rivers. Coincidentally, his first completion of that streak with less than a minute remaining in the first period was on the last of the Warriors' three first-quarter fumbles.

Louis Rankin rushed for 145 yards on 21 carries for the Huskies (4-9).

"We just didn't make one more play," Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said. "That's a very talented offense (we played)."