SHERATON HAWAII BOWL: Johnson runs wild, Tulsa beats No. 24 Hawaii 62-35
AP Sports Writer
HONOLULU (AP) – Damaris Johnson broke loose for a career-high 326 all-purpose yards to set an NCAA career record and Tulsa took advantage of six first-half turnovers to beat No. 24 Hawaii 62-35 in the Hawaii Bowl on Friday night.
The Golden Hurricane (10-3) grounded the nation’s No. 1 passing offense most of the night and broke it open with a 21-point third quarter for their seventh straight win and third consecutive bowl victory.
The short and speedy Johnson earned MVP honors, rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown and catching four passes for 101 yards and another score. He had two big plays in the decisive third quarter – a 59-yard reception and a 67-yard TD run that put Tulsa up 41-28.
He also had 109 yards in kickoff returns and 18 yards on punt returns.
Greg Salas also had a record night for Hawaii (10-4). The senior had 13 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns and set Hawaii single-season records in receptions and receiving yards.
But it was Johnson who ran wild in paradise.
The junior has 7,796 all-purpose yards, breaking Western Michigan standout Brandon West’s record of 7,764 yards set in 2006-09. Johnson broke the record on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter.
He entered the game fourth on the career list, 294 yards shy of tying the mark, and quickly passed up DeAngelo Williams and C.J. Spiller.
G.J. Kinne was 17 of 31 for 343 yards and three second-half touchdowns. He had just 107 yards passing in the first half.
Tulsa entered the game ranked 119th in the nation in pass defense, but used an aggressive pass rush up front and had its linebackers drop back into coverage on the Warriors, who shared the Western Athletic Conference title with Boise State and Nevada.
The Golden Hurricane forced a fumble and intercepted five passes in the first half, including two picks by Curnelius Arnick. Hawaii’s six first-half turnovers led to 24 Tulsa points and gave the Hurricane a 27-14 halftime lead.
On Arnick’s second interception, he stepped in front of Bryant Moniz’s errant throw and returned it 54 yards along the sideline, leaping for the score to put Tulsa up by 17. Arnick celebrated by flexing his bulging biceps in front of the booing Hawaii fans.
Moniz broke the 5,000-yard passing mark for the season, throwing for 411 yards and three touchdowns. But he had a disastrous first half with four interceptions.
His 33-yard pass to Royce Pollard cut it to 48-35 with 9:27 left, but the Warriors wouldn’t get any closer as the Golden Hurricanes seemed to move the ball at will.
Hawaii pulled to 27-21 on a 5-yard TD pass from Moniz to Salas to open the second half. But Tulsa answered with Kinne lobbing a short pass to the speedy Johnson, who cut right, across the field for a 59-yard gain. Kinne found Jameel Owens for a 15-yard score on the next play to push the lead back to 13.
Hawaii’s offense finally got going late in the first half. Salas caught an 18-yard TD pass from Moniz to cut Tulsa’s lead to 10 with 2:20 left in the half. The score was set up by highlight-reel reception with Salas outjumping two defenders and hauling it in for 55 yards.
The reception was Salas’ 109th of the season, breaking Davone Bess’ single-season record of 108 set in 2007. Earlier in the game, Salas broke Ashley Lelie’s mark of 1,713 yards receiving set in 2001.
However, the sure-handed Salas fumbled a punt return, leading to a Tulsa field goal just before halftime.