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RAINBOWS PROVE NO MATCH FOR SHOTGUN-TOTING COUGARS

SHARE RAINBOWS PROVE NO MATCH FOR SHOTGUN-TOTING COUGARS

BYU dusted off an old weapon - the shotgun - and used it to blast Hawaii 35-18 Saturday at Cougar Stadium.

The victory put an end to the Rainbow Warriors' two-year domination of the Cougars, although some BYU players weren't entirely satisfied."I just wish we could have scored a little more," said fullback Peter Tuipulotu.

It was enough to keep BYU atop the Western Athletic Conference with a 3-0 record (4-3 overall), while snuffing any lingering hopes Hawaii (3-4, 2-3 WAC) may have had of a conference title.

BYU dominated this game from the beginning, despite the Bows' 413-403 advantage in total yards. The Cougs got off to their best offensive start this season, jumping out to a 14-0 lead. They led at halftime 21-10 and put the game away with two third-quarter TDs.

"We were emotional coming out to play, so we were in the game right from the start," said BYU quarterback Ty Detmer.

BYU coach LaVell Edwards had downplayed the revenge motive as his team prepared for this game, but that didn't keep the players from remembering the past two Warrior Whippings. Tuipulotu said that whenever anyone slacked off in practice this past week, he was reminded of last year's debacle. "We've always had that in the back of our minds," he said.

But just in case emotion wasn't enough to carry the Cougars, the coaching staff prepared a little surprise for the 'Bows - the shotgun formation. Once a staple of the BYU passing scheme, the shotgun was shelved a couple years ago because Detmer didn't like it. So it caused a stir when, five plays into BYU's first possession, Detmer dropped back several yards to take the snap. It worked in its debut, as Detmer had plenty of time and tossed a 15-yard pass to tight end Byron Rex. Suddenly, Detmer found himself appreciating this new weapon.

"I kind of liked it back there once I got there," Detmer said. "You can get rid of the ball a little quicker."

BYU decided to go with the shotgun after the UTEP game last week, when the Cougar backs had a hard time picking up Miner blitzes. From the shotgun, said Detmer, it's easier for the more-experienced backs to point out to the less-experienced backs which guy they are supposed to block. The result Saturday was that Detmer wasn't sacked until the fourth quarter, when the game was over.

"Everybody was picking up everybody from the start," Detmer said. "I had all day to throw."

Even with the shotgun, BYU didn't score on that first drive and was forced to punt. The Cougar defense also forced Hawaii to punt, after three plays, and Rainbow punter Winston Haynes dropped a perfect snap, giving the ball to BYU at the Bows' 16-yard line. Two plays later Detmer hit Nati Valdez on a 21-yard scoring pass. Hawaii next drove 78 yards to the BYU two-yard line, but on third and goal at the two, quarterback Michael Carter fumbled and nose guard Lenny Gomes recovered. BYU then put together a 16-play drive that covered 98 yards and ended with Detmer finding tight end Matt Zundel all alone in the end zone to make it 14-0 and put the Bows' in a hole from which they never could escape.

Detmer finished the game with 14 completions in 20 attempts (70 percent) for 225 yards and three TDs, with no interceptions. It wasn't one of his gaudier passing days, but it didn't have to be because BYU was running so well against the smaller Rainbows. "Hawaii doesn't have the biggest guys up front," Detmer said. "We felt we could establish the running game."That they did, led by Tuipulotu and freshman halfback Jamal Willis. Tuipulotu, despite a painful leg bruise that caused him to miss practice all week, gained 79 yards on 10 carries, and Willis contributed 82 yards on 10 carries, with two TDs.

"It's discouraging to let BYU run the ball the way they did today." said Hawaii coach Bob Wagner.

The Cougars might disagree with the suggestion that Hawaii "let" them run, but sometimes it did look that way. BYU's final scoring drive, in the third quarter, was indicative of how well the Cougs ran. With the ball at the BYU 31, Detmer lined up in the shotgun but handed off to Tuipulotu, as he'd done often - and effectively - all game long. Tuipulotu appeared stopped after a short gain, broke loose, appeared stopped again, but shed multiple tacklers once more in turning the carry into a 20-yard gain. Not to be outdone, Willis took the ball two plays later and rambled 44 yards for a touchdown.

Willis, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, said he knew he could score once he got into the Hawaii secondary. "Their cornerbacks were kind of little, so I was just going to run over them," he said. Instead he outran them, although he needed oxygen back at the BYU bench afterward.

"I haven't broken a long one like that since high school (a whole year ago)," Willis said. "But I've got a lot more of those in me."

While the offense put points on the board, the BYU defense gave up lots of yards but few points. The Rainbows moved the ball inside the Cougar 30-yard line six times but scored on only three of those drives. Two were turned away by interceptions, one by a fumble. For the game, BYU had three interceptions - two by safety Derwin Gray, one by cornerback Ervin Lee - and two fumbles recovered - by linebacker Shad Hansen and Gomes. Hansen was unofficially credited with 18 tackles, while linebackers Rocky Biegel and Jared Leavitt added 10 each.

In all fairness, though, it must be said that this isn't the same Hawaii team that walloped BYU last year. The 'Bows have had a multitude of injuries, and especially miss graduated quarterback Garrett Gabriel, who has been replaced by the combination of Carter and Ivin Jasper. As a passing tandem, that pair completed just 10 of 28 passes (36 percent). As running threats, they weren't. Carter, who was averaging 98 yards a game, was held to seven net yards in 21 rushing attempts - one foot per carry - and both quarterbacks were guilty of making sloppy or ill-timed pitches on the option.

"We figured we had to stop Carter, and we shut him right down," Edwards said.

BYU next plays on the road Saturday at New Mexico.

GAME NOTES: Tuipulotu rode an exercise bike on the sidelines in between offensive series, to keep his leg from tightening up . . . BYU is the WAC's top passing team, yet was outpassed by Hawaii (sort of), 248 yards to 225; Hawaii was the seventh-best rushing team in the nation, but got outrushed by BYU, 178 yards to 165.