Tulsa Lights up the Scoreboard in Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Win
Dec. 24, 2010
Damaris Johnson ran sideways through defenders and down the sidelines past them. He didn't stop until he had an NCAA record and a big pineapple-shaped trophy.
Johnson broke loose for a career-high 326 all-purpose yards to break the NCAA career record and Tulsa took advantage of six first-half turnovers to beat No. 24 Hawai'i 62-35 in the Hawai'i Bowl on Friday night.
"Coming on this trip out to Hawai'i, we knew in the back of our minds that there were a lot of distractions, but we played good and came out with this win," Johnson said. "We have to get on this eight-hour plane ride back home now, so maybe I'll get some sleep on the plane and it'll hit me in the morning."
The Golden Hurricane (10-3) grounded the nation's No. 1 passing offense most of the night and broke it open with a 21-point third quarter for their seventh straight win and third consecutive bowl victory.
The short and speedy Johnson earned MVP honors, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown on five carries and catching four passes for 101 yards and another score. He had two big plays in the decisive third quarter - a 59-yard reception and a 67-yard TD run that put Tulsa up 41-28.
He also had five kickoff returns for 109 yards and an 18-yard punt return. Johnson hauled in Tulsa's final touchdown, a 9-yarder from G.J. Kinne with 1:16 left.
"He's a great player," Kinne said. "He breaks records every week it feels like. It's a privilege to play with him. We got one more year together."
Johnson raised his nation-leading all-purpose average from 191.8 to 202.2 yards.
Greg Salas also had a record night for Hawai'i (10-4). The senior had 13 receptions for career-high 214 yards and two touchdowns and set Hawai'i single-season records in receptions and receiving yards.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot. We had way too many turnovers, and it cost us," Salas said. "We turned the ball over in key situations. It just goes to show you that the team with the most yards doesn't always win."
Hawai'i, 3-3 in its hometown bowl, had 550 yards of offense to Tulsa's 531.
But it was Johnson who ran wild in paradise.
The junior has 7,796 all-purpose yards, breaking Western Michigan standout Brandon West's record of 7,764 set in 2006-09. Johnson broke the record on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter.
He entered the game fourth on the career list, 294 yards shy of tying the mark, and quickly passed up Memphis' DeAngelo Williams and Clemson's C.J. Spiller.
Kinne was 17 of 31 for 343 yards and three second-half touchdowns. He had just 107 yards passing in the first half.
Tulsa entered the game ranked 119th in the nation in pass defense, but used an aggressive pass rush up front and had its linebackers drop back into coverage on the Warriors, who shared the Western Athletic Conference title with Boise State and Nevada.
"We were very, very physical today, I thought that was the key. I thought we dominated both sides of the football," Tulsa coach Todd Graham said.
The Golden Hurricane forced a fumble and intercepted five passes in the first half, including two picks by Curnelius Arnick. Hawai'i's six first-half turnovers led to 24 Tulsa points and gave the Hurricane a 27-14 halftime lead.
"For us, it was just motivation. We always hear about our bad our defense is and it just motivates just to come back and play harder," Arnick said. "We were just disguising our coverages, moving around and confusing the quarterback."
On Arnick's second interception, he stepped in front of Bryant Moniz's errant throw and returned it 54 yards along the sideline, leaping for the score to put Tulsa up by 17. Arnick celebrated by flexing his bulging biceps in front of the booing Hawai'i fans.
Moniz broke the 5,000-yard passing mark for the season, throwing for 411 yards and three touchdowns. But he had a disastrous first half with four interceptions.
"They had good pressure and were jumping all our routes. They jumped a lot of the short stuff, and it gave them a lot of points," Moniz said.
His 33-yard pass to Royce Pollard cut it to 48-35 with 9:27 left, but the Warriors wouldn't get any closer as the Golden Hurricanes seemed to move the ball at will.
Hawai'i pulled to 27-21 on a 5-yard TD pass from Moniz to Salas to open the second half. But Tulsa answered with Kinne lobbing a short pass to the speedy Johnson, who cut right, across the field for a 59-yard gain. Kinne found Jameel Owens for a 15-yard score on the next play to push the lead back to 13.
Hawai'i's offense finally got going late in the first half. Salas caught an 18-yard TD pass from Moniz to cut Tulsa's lead to 10 with 2:20 left in the half. The score was set up by highlight-reel reception with Salas outjumping two defenders and hauling it in for 55 yards.
The reception was Salas' 109th of the season, breaking Davone Bess' single-season record of 108 set in 2007. Earlier in the game, Salas broke Ashley Lelie's mark of 1,713 yards receiving set in 2001.
However, the sure-handed Salas fumbled a punt return, leading to a Tulsa field goal just before halftime.
Salas finished his career at Hawai'i with 285 catches for 4,345 yards and 26 touchdowns.
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