RENO, Nev. (AP)—Turns out Colt Brennan isn’t the only one who can be a star for No. 13 Hawaii.
Tyler Graunke, playing in place of the injured quarterback, passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns and Dan Kelly kicked a 45-yard field goal with 11.7 seconds left to keep the Warriors undefeated with a 28-26 victory over Nevada Friday night.
“Everybody thought it’s just Colt Brennan. We have a lot of great players,” said Hawaii coach June Jones, whose team kept its Bowl Championship Series hopes alive with a record of 10-0, 7-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Kelly actually made the field goal twice, but Nevada coach Chris Ault had called a time out just before the first one wobbled over the crossbar. His second one sailed down the middle far above the goal posts to extend the NCAA’s longest winning streak to 11 when after Jacob Patek intercepted Colin Kaepernick’s desperation pass at the 5 as time expired.
“I knew he’d make it,” Jones said. “When the pressure is on, that’s when he kicks his best.”
Luke Lippincott ran for 140 yards and a touchdown for the Wolf Pack (5-5, 3-3), who had taken the lead 26-25 on his 5-yard TD run with 8:27 left in the game.
They appeared to be in control when Nevada defensive lineman Kevin Basped sacked Graunke, forced a fumble and fell on it at the Hawaii 47 with less than 8 minutes left.
But on the next play, Keala Watson stripped the ball from Nevada’s Arthur King and recovered it at the Hawaii 43.
Graunke moved the Warriors, completing a 13-yard pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen to the Nevada 32 with 1:10 left and then passing 5 yards to C.J Hawthorne on third-and-10 to get to the 28 with 48 seconds left to set up the winning field goal.
Jones said Graunke has been running Hawaii’s 2-minute offense in practice for four years so he “had a lot of confidence in him.”
“He put it in my hands,” Graunke said. “He trusted me. We work on our 2-minute offense at least once a week so I knew it was going to happen. I had to step up for my teammates. That’s what it’s all about.”
Brennan, who is tied with Brigham Young’s Ty Detmer with a record 121 touchdown passes, played just one play in the first quarter and one play in the second quarter after being knocked out in last week’s win over Fresno State. His streak of 34 consecutive games with a TD pass come to an end at 34, one short of Detmer’s record.
“Finally everybody can see how great of a team this really is,” said Brennan, who is expected to return to action next week at home against No. 17 Boise State.
“I know people have said all year, `Oh, they’ve got a great quarterback, that is why they win but they don’t really have a great team.’ But tonight, people saw how great of a complete team we are,” he said.
Hawaii’s Davone Bess caught 12 passes for 137 yards and Hawthorne had five receptions for 112 yards. Jason Rivers had a 3-yard TD catch to extend his nation-leading streak of consecutive games with a reception to 47.
Trailing 19-13 midway through the third quarter, Lippincott converted a pair of fourth-down runs during a 17-play, 90-yard drive capped by Kaepernick’s 3-yard TD run to give Nevada its first lead, 20-19 at 2:43.
But Hawaii answered on the next series with Graunke’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen to go ahead 25-20 with 11:34 left in the game when Wolf Pack linebacker Matt Hines knocked down Graunke’s attempted pass for a 2-point conversion.
“That was one heck of a ballgame,” Ault said. “Hats off to Hawaii. They played well both offensively and defensively.”
“Everybody is always talking about that offense, but they are a good solid defense,” he said. “We had our chances. Our offense just could not move the ball at the end when we needed it. They were able to move the ball and convert.”
After the two teams exchanged punts, Kaepernick threw a 45-yard pass to Marko Mitchell to set up Lippincott’s 5-yard touchdown to take the lead 26-25 at 8:27.
Graunke started the game with a 24-yard pass to Davone Bess and completed five of his first six attempts before he was sacked by Ezra Butler and Matt Hines for a 14-yard loss, forcing the Warriors to settle for Kelly’s 45-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Brett Jake’s 41-yard field goal pulled the Wolf Pack within 19-10 at halftime then added a 42-yarder on Nevada’s first series of the second half to make it 19-13.