HONOLULU -- From the mood in the locker room, it was
difficult to tell whether Hawaii had won or lost Saturday night.
Perhaps it was both.
The Warriors were supposed to be celebrating after holding off
rival Fresno State 37-30 to remain undefeated and keep their BCS
hopes alive. The win was marred by the loss of quarterback Colt Brennan who suffered a concussion early in the fourth quarter.
Brennan tied the NCAA career mark for touchdown passes, throwing
his 121st, before he was knocked out by a jarring hit that
reverberated throughout Aloha Stadium.
"We're definitely happy to win. But around the locker room it
was kind of dead knowing that one of our leaders, our brothers,
went down," said Ryan Grice-Mullen, who broke the 1,000-yard
receiving mark with his nine catches for 128 yards.
Hawaii (9-0, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference), which moved up a
spot to No. 13 in the AP poll on Sunday, and Kansas (No. 4 AP) are the only remaining
unbeaten teams. The Warriors are off to their best start since
1925. They have won 10 straight, and 19 of their last 20 games.
But it was Brennan who was on the mind of everyone in the locker
room and the state.
"As soon as dude hit him and Colt went down, I knew it wasn't
good," Grice-Mullen said. "Just looking at one of your family
members go down like that, you forget about everything else."
Brennan was 28-of-39 for 396 yards and two touchdowns before he
left with 11 minutes left in the game. He was flattened by
linebacker Marcus Riley near the Bulldogs' sideline while
scrambling on third-and-7.
Brennan laid motionless, face down in the FieldTurf as trainers
from both teams came to his aid. The near-sellout crowd drew silent
and teammates prayed on one knee as the game was halted for about
five minutes. Brennan eventually stood up, wincing in pain and was
helped off the field into the locker room.
"He showed a lot of heart by getting to his feet because we all
knew he was out of it," Grice-Mullen said.
School officials believe Brennan suffered a mild concussion. He
wasn't available after the game, but said in a statement that he
was "looking forward to getting back on the field for next week's
Brennan was scheduled to be examined Sunday.
Hawaii will need Brennan as it closes out the regular season at
Nevada before returning home to face Boise State (No. 17 AP), which will
determine the WAC champion, and Washington.
Warriors coach June Jones was confident his strong-arm QB would
be back soon. He said Brennan was "fine."
"If you play football you're going to have concussions," he
said. "I just talked to him. He's ready to play right now."
After a post-game visit, Bulldogs coach Pat Hill also gave
Brennan a positive outlook. How did he know?
"Well, he recognized me," Hill said.
Brennan has thrown for 3,296 yards and 28 TDs this season.
"When you lose one guy, as big as Colt, that's a loss,"
Grice-Mullen said. "We're not going to lie and say, 'We're going
to be A-OK.' The starting quarterback, our leader, a Heisman
candidate -- that's a big loss."
The Warriors know what they need to do, with just three games
"It's NFL playoff time," Jones said. "You lose, you're out."
Brennan's 5-yard TD toss to Davone Bess gave Hawaii a 31-7 lead
and matched the mark set by Brigham Young's Ty Detmer in 1991. With
the score, Brennan also tied Detmer's record for most touchdowns
responsible for with 135.
The senior reached the milestone in his 34th game. It took
Detmer 46 games to set the record.
On the third play of the game, Brennan threw a long pass over
the middle to a wide-open Jason Rivers for a 67-yard score. Later
in the first quarter, Brennan scored on a 3-yard run as the
Warriors jumped to a 21-0 lead.
Brennan, who now owns or shares two dozen NCAA records, has
thrown a touchdown in 34 straight games, one shy of the mark also
held by Detmer.