Hawaii 28, Fresno St. 16
HONOLULU (AP) _ True freshman Charles Tharp rushed 29 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night as Hawaii played a ball-control game to post a 28-16 upset over heavily favored Fresno State.
In exceeding last season’s victory total, the Rainbows (3-3, 1-3 Western Athletic Conference) discovered their offense by effectively managing the clock. They held the ball for 36 minutes, 39 seconds to deny the high-scoring Bulldogs.
Hawaii picked up 181 yards on the ground and Josh Skinner, filling in for injured starter Tim Carey, completed 11 of 15 passes for 133 yards.
Entering the game, Hawaii averaged only 77 yards rushing and 189 passing.
Meanwhile, FSU quarterback Billy Volek, who started the game with a 134 rating, managed to complete 16 of 32 passes for 150 yards and Michael Pittman, who averaged 115 yards rushing, was held to 48 yards on 16 carries.
The Hawaii defense also turned in a sparkling performance, stopping the Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 in the WAC) on a first-and-goal situation at the one and the Rainbows holding a tenuous 14-10 lead in the third quarter.
The offense then took over and marched 99 yards with Tharp twisting into the end zone for the second of his one-yard scoring runs.
A fumble recovery by Olen Rosehill after a vicious hit on FSU’s Eric Mahanke by Donnell Williams led to an insurance TD for Hawaii _ a one-yard slant by Calvin Mims that made it 28-10.
The Rainbows, 11-point underdogs, took a 14-10 lead at the half with Tharp diving over on a fourth-and-one situation early in the second quarter and a 7-yard pass from Josh Skinner to Gary Ellison with 2:51 left in the half.
Tharp, who picked up for 115 yards in the first half, set up his own score with a 55-yard scamper and converting on a fourth-and-one midway through the 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Two more third down conversions helped Hawaii to the second score, another 10-play march. Skinner and Ellison provided the big play, a 24-yard pass.
The Rainbows missed an early scoring opportunity when Skinner fumbled at the 5 and Joe Barnes returned it to the FSU 45. The Bulldogs took advantage of the turnover with Jeff Hanna kicking a 28-yard field goal.
FSU’s second score, which gave it a 10-7 lead, came when Scott Thompson blocked Chad Shrout’s punt and Lawrence Deck picked it up and was escorted into the end zone from 16 yards out.
It was the third time in the last two games the opposition scored off the Hawaii punt unit. In last week’s 63-0 shellacking at Colorado State, two punts were returned for TDs.
A four-yard pass from Volek to Anthony Tucker gave Fresno State its final points.