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Hawaii Rallies to a 55-54 Victory in Overtime over San Diego

May 9, 2004 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Hawaiian Islanders News Release

SAN DIEGO – Darnell Arceneaux’s only rush of the game was not an official stat but it proved to be the game-winner as he leaped into the end zone for a two-point conversion giving the Hawaiian Islanders heart pounding 55-54 overtime win before a stunned crowd of 3,743 at the San Diego Sports Arena. The win gave Hawaii (4-2) a half game lead over idle Bakersfield (3-2) in the af2 West Division. San Diego drops to 1-4.

Arceneaux, ranked third in af2 in rushing with 86 yards through five games, will officially have 0 rushes for 0 yards in the game, but it was his leadership that guided Hawaii through a very tough week for the team.

Hawaii top defensive player Eddie Klaneski and leading touchdown receiver Anthony Arceneaux did not make the trip due to injuries suffered last week at Bossier-Shreveport. To make the situation tougher, the coaching staff chose to bench their top two receivers in Mike Miller and Aaron Smith. Miller led the Islanders with 19 catches while Smith had 18.

It was also Hawaii’s first meeting between Hawaii head coach Cal Lee and his long-time friend in San Diego’s Mouse Davis, who virtually invented the run and shoot offense and also helped Lee through his first season.

But Lee had several secret weapons.

Joining the Islanders this week were former University of Hawaii standouts Nate Jackson, Craig Stutzmann and Joe Correia. Each had significant playing time and contributed to the win.

“I don’t care what anyone says about arena ball, this is the real deal,” said Stuzmann following the game. “It’s hard work and it’s real football.”

“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” Jackson said. “This is why I play this game.”

Jackson was Hawaii’s leading receiver with 6 catches for 86 yards and on defense had four assists. Stutzmann caught 2 passes for 19 yards while Correia provided some key pass rushes that led to incomplete passes.

Early in the game, it looked as if Hawaii and San Diego were trading touchdowns throughout the first half. Each team scored on their first four possessions with San Diego scoring their fifth touchdown right before the half to take a 34-27 lead.

Hawaii closed the margin to one point when Keiki Misipeka scored on a 2-yard run but Kimo Naehu’s extra point kept the Riptide ahead 34-33. Former University of Hawaii receiver Dwight Carter scored the second of his three touchdowns in the third quarter, an 8-yard pass giving San Diego a 41-33 lead. Nian Taylor, who caught 4 passes for 57 yards, caught his third touchdown pass of the game with 5-seconds left in the third quarter closing the gap to 41-40.

San Diego’s Matt Guardia scored on a 3-yard run but kicker Kevin Burton missed the extra point giving the Riptide a 47-40 lead. But Hawaii failed to score on their next possession and when they failed to get a first down, San Diego took over with the ball on the Hawaii 11. What could have been the deathblow to Hawaii turned into a golden opportunity as a short San Diego field goal bounced off the upright giving the Islanders another chance. On the next play, Channon Harris caught a 25-yard pass from Arceneaux and with the extra point, Hawaii tied the game 47-all with 4:02 left.

“I knew we needed to get in the end zone, but when I got caught up I was just going for the pass interference,” said Harris on that touchdown. “When I looked up I saw that I had a shot at it and I was able to get under the defender and grab the ball for the score. Honestly it happened so fast it surprised me when I ended up with it in the end zone.”

Both teams each had a final possession to win it in regulation. Hawaii had their last shot but Naehu’s 45-yard field goal was wide right.

Hawaii’s first overtime game in their history proved to be another nail-biter. The af2 overtime rules give both teams the opportunity to have one possession and the team with the most points wins.

San Diego took the offense first and scored on their second play in the OT when Carter caught a 20-yard pass from Klaunch. The extra point gave the Riptide a 54-47 lead.

Hawaii began their possession when Stutzmann took the kickoff to his own 12-yard line. A key third down play to Jackson continued the drive into San Diego territory. On Hawaii’s fifth play of the drive, Harris caught a 21-yard pass giving Hawaii the choice to go for the tie or the win.

“We figured we were here long enough so it was time to go for the win and go home," Lee said "Our defense came up with the big stop when they had to."

Arceneaux, who finished the game completing 21-of-38 for 282 yards and 6 touchdowns, dropped back to pass but found no receiver. He then dashed to his right and extended the football over the goal line for the win.

“This is how you win as a team,” Arceneaux said. “Everybody did their job and even though we couldn't get the pass off, everybody kept working their guys and it opened it up for me to take it in.”

“I knew that everybody had my back. That's why this was such a great team win. I may have had the ball in my hands the last play but it was a team effort to get it over the goal line."

“I always feel confident when Darnell has the ball in his hands,” said offensive coordinator Vince Passas. “He’s a gamer. We called a pass play, but Nian got caught up in the middle and so Darnell had to roll out. The good thing is that everybody kept working to get open and occupied their guys giving Darnell a shot at getting in for the conversion.”

Hawaii has a bye next week and will host Central Valley on Saturday, May 22 at the Blaisdell Arena.

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