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SJSU furthers their cause towards bowl eligibility with a win

Kenny Potter leads the Spartans to a 42-23 win over the Rainbow Warriors to keep their bowl hopes alive.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose State came into Honolulu looking to further their cause towards a bowl game. They sat at 4-6 and needed to win out to become bowl eligible. The Spartans took a good first step towards that goal with their 42-23 win over the University of Hawaii.

From kickoff SJSU looked other-worldly; although the way the Rainbow Warriors have been playing it is not hard to. With the opening drive spanning 75 yards on just 8 plays. The Spartan starting quarterback, Kenny Potter, put the team on his back and rushed for 58 rushing yards. That included a 9 nine yard scramble where he powered through two Hawaii defenders for the touchdown.

With the score now 7-0 in favor of the visitors, the Chris Naeole’s squad looked to respond immediately. However, this drive would prove to be fruitless despite Paul Harris’ valiant effort. Harris ran for 18 yards before being spelled by Ryan Tuaiasoa. Tuiasoa powered through Spartan defenders only to be stripped by Andre Chachere after gaining 8 yards.

Things were not looking good for the home team as the Spartans recovered the fumble and were on the attack once again. This time instead of Potter killing the Rainbow Warriors it was Tyler Ervin – 25 receiving yards and 9 total rushing yards. At the end of the 45 yard drive, Kenny Potter hit Tim Crawley for the touchdown and San Jose would now lead 14-0.

As you would expect Hawaii would come out firing, desperately wanting to respond. Ikaika Woolsey would one hop a short hitch route to Marcus Kemp and that would be a good indicator for the next few plays. The visitors would force a three and out.

The ‘Bows would nearly force a three and out of their own but a pass interference penalty would give the Spartans new life. They would not look back from there and ultimately traveled 78 yards for the score. Kenny Potter would give the Hawaii defense the run around and eventually hit Thomas Tucker on a 27 yard reception to convert a key third down. Potter would follow up that outstanding play with a touchdown pass to Hansell Wilson; SJSU now leads 21-0.

With the situation starting to get out of control, the Rainbow Warrior offense would start to go all out. They would go for it on fourth down and convert to extend their drive. Paul Harris would oblige the home town fans by running to gain the first. Then a 7 yard catch by Marcus Kemp and a 2 yard run would be followed by two incompletions to turn the ball over on downs. A questionable the play on fourth down, saw a deep pass over thrown when the team only needed 2 yards.

For San Jose State’s next drive, an offside penalty would cancel a pass breakup on third down. With the do-over Kenny Potter would hit Justin Holmes for the first; this would be the first of a string of clutch third down catches for Holmes. Throughout the whole drive Hawaii seem to find a way to put pressure on Potter at all. He would lead the Spartans down 38 more yards through the air, including a 32 yarder to Billy Freeman. Potter would walk into the end zone on a read option, with the defense over pursuing on Tyler Ervin; San Jose now killing Hawaii 28-0.

It would look like Hawaii was well on their way to finally get off the schneid and score. Paul Harris would lead his team out of their end with 23 yards on the ground. Ikaika Woolsey would later hit Makoa Camanse-Stevens for 10 yards, after taking a sack, to fall just short of a first down. Woolsey would convert on fourth down with a 5 yard run. Two plays later he would force a pass in the end zone, while under duress, that ended up intercepted by Andre Chachere.

With 3:40 left in the half San Jose State would look to knife the hearts of the home team and their fans with another score. Ervin would start the drive with 14 yards rushing and Potter would take over from there. He hit Tim Crawley for 23 yards and then a play later would complete 4 in a row including the touchdown pass. Crawley would account for 41 yards and Billy Freeman for 24 yards. Potter fooled everyone with a pass that looked like he over threw his receiver on the goal line but it actually ended right in the hands of Brad Kuh for six.

The half would end with the score 35-0 but the Rainbow Warriors would not go with a kneel. Where most teams would concede the last play, Chris Naeole’s team would not. The team ended the half on an incompletion but this call would really set the tone for the home team in the second half.

It seemed as though Head Coach Naeole’s half time speech took hold with the team as they came out running. Paul Harris would rush 4 times on the second half opening drive for 75 yards. He topped it all off with a 27 yard scamper for the touchdown and finally put the home team on the board.

Feeding off of the excitement from the run, the Rainbow Warriors decided to do an onside kick. You’d think that this was crazy but you’d be wrong as they recovered it! Rigoberto Sanchez would create a perfect bounce for Ryan Pasoquen, who was screaming down the sideline to make the catch. The momentum would be killed when the ‘Bows squander their chance with a horrible three and out.

Like every other drive ended for San Jose thus far, they scored on their drive following the three and out. Another incredible drive led by Kenny Potter, which featured an outstanding scramble play that ended up with a 15 yard Tyler Ervin catch to jump start the drive. All in all Potter had 57 yards through the air along with 13 yards on the ground. Justin Holmes helped twice with 2 third down converting receptions. Ervin would also contribute 29 yards on the ground including the 1 yard punch in for the score.

To this point it felt that UH’s defense would commit critical penalties on third down that made life much easier for the visitors to convert. The Hawaii defense did not force a punt and let San Jose State convert all 10 third downs.

The next drive for Hawaii ended up in a touchdown based on a very fortuitous bounce. A deflection on an Ikaika Woolsey pass fell right into Devon Stubblefield’s hands and he took it 77 yards for a score.

The quarter would end 42-14 in the middle of a SJSU drive, which would in fact end in a punt. This was their first of the game and was in fact the first drive that didn’t end in a touchdown for the Spartans. David Manoa made sure that drive ended with a sack on Potter.

Paul Harris would do his best to help the home team score but they ended up punting after he gained 29 yards. This punt wouldn’t be any ordinary punt as Rigoberto Sanchez would help pin San Jose State on their own 2 yard line.

The next two plays saw Hawaii come oh so close to getting a safety and would eventually be rewarded when Jahlani Tavai got a sack in the end zone. With the two points the ‘Bows still trailed 42-16 but getting the ball back on the ensuing free kick surely would help their comeback effort.

A nice return on the free kick by Nick Nelson set the offense up on the San Jose 48 yard line. However, the team would only go backwards and ended up with -6 yards on the drive. Sanchez would make another outstanding punt that ended up on the 8 yard line.

Tyler Ervin would do his best to help flip the field position on the Rainbow Warriors. While the Spartans didn’t score on this drive, Mich Carrizosa would place his second punt within the Hawaii 10 yard line.

This drive for UH would end in a punt like the last. This time their defense would help the offense get back on the field by forcing a three and out.

Ikaika Woolsey would lead one final scoring drive that spanned 67 yards. Paul Harris would contribute 22 yards and Makoa Camanse-Stevens would cap it off with a 5 yard catch for the touchdown. Woolsey who was hurt on the last touchdown drive, showed great courage to continue to play with an obviously sprained ankle.

With the score being 42-23 and little time left, Chris Naeole decided to stay the course and kick an onside kick. Sanchez would do an amazing trick back side soccer kick which ended up in Hawaii getting the ball back. This unfortunately was nullified by an offside on the opposite side of the play. UH would then get a redo and Sanchez would create another recovery! However, this again was cancelled by a penalty as the Rainbow Warriors would touch the ball prematurely. This resulted in San Jose State getting the ball and killing the game with the victory formation.

Kenny Potter should get the game ball for his 5 touchdown effort with 366 total yards. Tyler Ervin finished the day with 176 yards and a touchdown. His Rainbow Warrior counterpart, Paul Harris ended up with 197 yards and a touchdown. Julian Gener would lead the home team with 8 total tackles.

Being the slight homer that I am I will give the game ball to Rigoberto Sanchez. Despite Potter’s awe-inspiring performance, I have to say Sanchez’s was better. His punting directly led to a safety and he essentially created 3 onside kick recoveries. Game ball RIGO!

In the end, Hawaii got killed by their untimely penalties and their inability to make stops early in the game. Their slow starts have become a theme in the later part of the season and you can tell it’s something that Chris Naeole wants fixed. With one more game left, a home game, the Rainbow Warriors will look to send their seniors off with a win. This however will take a drastic change in their defensive efforts to start games. In what was their biggest strength early in the season, it has become their greatest weakness.

On San Jose State’s end they continue their pursuit towards a bowl game. They currently stand at 5-6 but will face a major obstacle in Boise State next week. While the Broncos have not had the season most anticipated, they still pose a viable threat to the Spartan’s bowl effort. Boise will no doubt look to right the ship after losing two in a row. In order for San Jose State to come out with a win they’ll need another All-American type effort from Tyler Ervin and Kenny Potter.