Notre Dame 23, Hawaii 22
November 29, 1997 – Aloha Stadium
by Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune
HONOLULU – While bowl talk swirled around Aloha Stadium like the tradewinds off the Pacific, Notre Dame still had to hold up its end of the bargain.
The Irish had to win a football game over Hawaii if they intended on extending their season. And it wasn’t as easy a proposition as most had thought.
Early in the fourth quarter the Irish fell behind 22-14 then pulled to within two at 22-20 with 11 minutes to go. Scott Cengia kicked a field goal with five seconds remaining for a 23-22 N.D. victory.
While making a rare national television appearance and gaining some significant notoriety in the college football world, the Rainbow Warriors made the most of the opportunity to strut their stuff. They battled the larger Irish ferociously.
The Irish improved to 7-5 and capped a comeback from a 1-4 start. A win figured to make Notre Dame an attractive option for some bowl that will probably extend bids next weekend.
Hawaii fell to 3-9 but took a major step up on the scale of respectability.
Notre Dame had its chance to control the tempo of the game from the opening play. On Hawaii’s first snap from scrimmage, Rainbow Warrior quarterback Josh Skinner tried to throw a pass to the wide side of the field. The soft toss was intercepted by Allen Rossum and returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
Besides giving Notre Dame a quick 7-0 lead, the score put Rossum into the NCAA record books. The fleet-footed senior from Dallas scored his ninth touchdown on a return (three kickoff, three punt and three interception), breaking the previous mark of eight by Erroll Tucker of Utah in 1984-85. He already returned one kickoff for a touchdown against Pittsburgh this season.
The worst thing that may have happened to the Irish defense was for Skinner to be injured on the third play of the game. He was hit by Lamont Bryant after releasing a pass and left with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Tim Carey, who has missed several games with a shoulder injury, but Carey was effective.
On Hawaii’s fourth possession of the game, Carey led the Rainbows 89 yards on 13 plays to make the score 7-6 early in the second quarter on freshman tailback Charles Tharp’s one-yard run. Eric Hannum missed the PAT kick.
The Irish lead went to 14-6 when Notre Dame traveled 80 yards in 12 plays in nearly six minutes. Autry Denson’s 12-yard run finished the march with just under eight minutes left in the half. A 15-yard late hit penalty after a short Denson run was the big break for the Irish.
Reminiscent of the last time Notre Dame visited the island, the Irish had trouble stopping the Hawaii offense. A late-hit call on Notre Dame rush linebacker Lamont Bryant and a screen pass between Carey and Gary Ellison that went for 22 yards were critical in setting up Hawaii for a 23-yard field goal by Hannum and a 14-9 Notre Dame lead that the Irish took into intermission.
The drive was halted by an impressive play in the end zone by Notre Dame cornerback Ivory Covington. The senior buried Hawaii receiver John Kirby just as the ball hit his hands and then fell incomplete.
The passing game was not a significant part of Notre Dame’s offense in the first half. While Denson rushed 13 times for 62 yards, quarterback Ron Powlus threw just three times and completed one for 10 yards. Jarious Jackson, in for just one complete series in the first half, missed on both his attempts.
Tharp was a big part of the Hawaii offense. He gained 60 first-half yards on 12 carries. Carey, a transfer from Stanford where Rainbow coach Fred vonAppen was an assistant, completed 10 of 15 passes for 106 yards in the first 30 minutes.
The Rainbow Warriors chipped away at the Irish lead on their first possession of the third quarter. After the Irish were forced to punt, Hawaii skillfully advanced the ball 60 yards on 13 plays to set up Hannum to connect on a career-long 45-yard field goal to cut the difference to 14-12.
The tide turned a bit after the field goal. The Irish offense was stopped on three consecutive running plays and then Daniel Ho-Ching blocked Hunter Smith’s punt attempt, giving the Rainbow Warriors the ball on the Irish 45.
Hawaii took over the dominant push at the line of scrimmage and moved the ball on the ground deep into Irish territory. Carey, though not especially quick, occasionally used the option as a weapon that worked. Nine plays later, Hannum connected on a 33-yard field goal to give Hawaii a 15-14 lead.
Hawaii’s pressure was relentless. After another defensive stop late in the third quarter, the Rainbow Warriors got a 36-yard punt return from Eddie Klaneski, giving them the ball near midfield. Though the Irish held, it forced Notre Dame to start the fourth quarter deep in its own territory, setting up a wild finish to the game.
The Irish were somewhat limited on their offensive attack by the absence of freshman tight end Jabari Holloway. Holloway, who had worked himself into being an effective blocker and pass catcher, missed the game because of a thigh bruise.
Rush end Lamont Bryant left the game in the first half with a knee injury and Rossum missed some time in the second half with an aggravation of a hamstring injury that forced Ty Goode into a prominent role at cornerback. Jason Ching, a Hawaii native, got in for limited duty in the second half.
Notre Dame 7 7 0 9 – 23Hawaii 0 9 6 7 – 22
ND: Allen ROSSUM 37 interception return (Scott CENGIA PAT), 14:42 left. Score: Notre Dame 7, Hawaii 0.
Second QuarterUH: Charles THARP 1 run (Eric HANNUM PAT failed), 13:49 left. Drive: 89 yards, 13 plays, 6:23 elapsed after ND punt. Key play: Tim Carey to Johnny Maconfor 15 on 3rd and 2 from the ND 19. Score: Notre Dame 7, Hawaii 6.
ND: Autry DENSON 12 run (CENGIA PAT), 7:54 left. Drive: 80 yards, 12 plays, 5:55 elapsed after Hawaii kickoff. Key play: Clement Stokes 8 run on 3rd and 1 from the ND 29. Score: Notre Dame 14, Hawaii 6.UH: HANNUM 23 FG, 4:05 left. Drive: 59 yards, 10 plays, 3:53 elapsed after ND kickoff. Key play: Tharp 8 run on 3rd and 7 from the Hawaii 38, followed by 15-yard late-hit penalty on ND. Score: Notre Dame 14, Hawaii 9.
UH: HANNUM 45 FG, 9:25 left. Drive: 60 yards, 13 plays, 4:11 elapsed after ND punt. Key play: Carey to Eleu Kane for 12 on 3rd and 3 from the ND 37. Score: Notre Dame 14, Hawaii 12.
UH: HANNUM 33 FG, 2:31 left. Drive: 30 yards, 9 plays, 4:41 elapsed after Hawaii blocked ND punt. Key play: Daniel Ho-Ching blocks Hunter Smith’s punt, which is recovered by Ron Wood at the ND 46. Score: Hawaii 15, Notre Dame 14.
UH: THARP 8 run (HANNUM PAT), 13:34 left. Drive: 8 yards, 1 play, 0:05 elapsed after Notre Dame punt. Key play: Eddie Klaneski 52 punt return to the ND 8. Score: Hawaii 22, Notre Dame 14.
ND: DENSON 4 run (Ron POWLUS pass failed), 11:36 left. Drive: 65 yards, 6 plays, 1:58 elapsed after Hawaii kickoff. Key play: Denson 43 run on 1st and 10 from the ND 48. Score: Hawaii 22, Notre Dame 20.
ND: CENGIA 20 FG, 0:05 left. Drive: 48 yards, 7 plays, 2:15 elapsed after Hawaii punt. Key play: Powlus to Raki Nelson for 47 on 3rd and 17 from the ND 44. Score: Notre Dame 23, Hawaii 22.
Attendance – 35,177
ND UHFirst Downs 12 17Rushing 7 7Passing 4 8Penalty 1 2Rushing Attempts 43 37Yards Rushing 207 156Yards Lost Rushing 11 2Net Yards Rushing 196 154Net Yards Passing 100 136Passes Attempted 20 32Passes Completed 7 16Had Intercepted 0 1Total Offensive Plays 63 69Total Net Yards 296 290Average Gain Per Play 4.7 4.2Fumbles: Number-Lost 0-0 1-0Penalties: Number-Yards 8-56 9-81Number of Punts-Yards 8-327 7-319Average Per Punt 40.9 45.6Punt Returns: Number-Yards 4-56 4-103Kickoff Returns: Number-Yards 4-82 2-16Interceptions: Number-Yards 1-37 0-0Third Down Conversions 6-16 7-17Fourth Down Conversions 0-1 0-0Possession Time 30:12 29:48Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-1 0-0
RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TD LGAutry Denson 28 149 6 143 2 43Clement Stokes 9 32 2 30 0 8Ken Barry 4 20 2 18 0 13Tony Driver 1 6 0 6 0 6Ron Powlus 1 0 1 -1 0 -1
PASSING ATT COM INT YDS TD LGRon Powlus 18 7 0 100 0 47Jarious Jackson 2 0 0 0 0 0
RECEIVING NO YDS TD LGMalcolm Johnson 2 29 0 19Bobby Brown 2 26 0 18Raki Nelson 1 47 0 47Ken Barry 1 6 0 6Autry Denson 1 -8 0 -8
PUNTING NUM YARDS AVG LGHunter Smith 7 310 44.3 57Team 1 17 17.0 17
RETURNS PR KO INTSAllen Rossum 2-39 3-54 1-37Autry Denson 2-17 – -Tony Driver – 1-28 –
RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TD LGCharles Tharp 26 114 0 114 2 15Tim Carey 7 22 1 21 0 7Eleu Kane 1 12 0 12 0 12Gary Ellison 1 5 0 5 0 5Avion Weaver 1 3 0 3 0 3Anthony Diieso 1 0 1 -1 0 -1
PASSING ATT COM INT YDS TD LGTim Carey 30 16 0 136 0 22Josh Skinner 2 0 1 0 0 0
RECEIVING RECPT YARDS TD LGCharles Tharp 5 40 0 14Gary Ellison 3 36 0 22Eleu Kane 3 7 0 11John Kirby 2 20 0 14Johnny Macon 1 15 0 15Calvin Mims 1 11 0 11Lonn Kalama 1 7 0 7
PUNTING NUM YARDS AVG LGChad Shrout 7 319 45.6 58
RETURNS PR KO INTSEddie Klaneski 3-103 – -Ron Wood 1-0 – -Robert Kemfort – 1-24 -Johnny Macon – 1-0 -Eleu Kane – 0-(-4) -Wesley Morris – 0-(-4) –