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Saturday, December 25, 2010
Instant Analysis: Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35

By Andrea Adelson

Tulsa beat Hawaii 62-35 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Friday night. Here is a quick instant analysis:

How the game was won: As expected, there were plenty of points in this one, but it was not the offensive showcase Hawaii wanted. The Warriors were a turnover machine in the first half, with five interceptions and one fumble. Quarterback Bryant Moniz threw two interceptions on the first two drives, then injured his back on a sack. Backup Shane Austin came on and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Moniz came back in and also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. In all, Moniz had four interceptions -- two to linebackers that he simply never saw when he dropped back. He had never thrown more than two in a game. He also missed one of his top targets, Kealoha Pilares, who hurt his knee early in the game and never returned. Tulsa scored 24 of its 27 first-half points off the turnovers despite a sluggish offensive performance. Tulsa had more takeaways (6) than first downs (5). But the Golden Hurricane offense got going in a big way, racking up 437 second-half yards to win their seventh straight game. Ultimately, those first-half mistakes proved too costly for the Warriors to overcome.

Turning point: The third quarter proved to be the biggest turning point in the game. Twice, Hawaii cut the lead to six, but Tulsa had quick responses each time. In fact, Tulsa scored three touchdowns on six plays that covered 206 yards on its first three drives of the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

Player of the game: The Tulsa defense has to get the nod as the collective players of the game. Curnelius Arnick had two interceptions, including one that was returned for the touchdown. John Flanders also had an interception return for a touchdown. Hawaii put up its fair share of yards and points, but those takeaways proved to be the difference. Tulsa all-purpose player Damaris Johnson gets a nod, too. See below.

Second-guessing: Hawaii receiver Royce Pollard caught a 33-yard touchdown pass with 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter, which cut the lead to 48-35. Rather than try for an onside kick, the Warriors kicked the ball deep, hoping for a stop. Tulsa ended up scoring a touchdown five plays later to go ahead by 20 points.

What it means: Tulsa finished the season on an incredible streak and should be ranked at the end of the season as a 10-win team. With G.J. Kinne, Damaris Johnson and 15 other starters returning, the Golden Hurricane should be the favorites to win Conference USA going into 2011. As for Hawaii, the Warriors return Moniz, who ended up throwing for more than 5,000 yards this season. But many of their top playmakers are gone, including Greg Salas, Pilares and Alex Green. Still, with Boise State moving on to the Mountain West and Nevada also losing its three best players in Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Dontay Moch, Hawaii should be in the hunt for another WAC title.

Record performance: Damaris Johnson added yet another NCAA record to his collection, becoming the career leader for all-purpose yards. Johnson, who already owns the NCAA record for kickoff return yards, broke the career all-purpose record of 7,764 yards set by Western Michigan's Brandon West (2006-09). Johnson had 329 all-purpose yards against Hawaii and three touchdowns. ... One other player to note: Salas had 12 catches and two touchdowns in his final game, the first 200-yard receiving game of his career.