Hopes for winning season dim at Tulsa

Sunday, October 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ At the beginning of the season, hopes were high at Tulsa for the first winning season since 1991.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Tulsa's players and coaches are fighting the blues after a 36-15 loss Saturday to Hawaii jeopardized chances to win most games this season.

The loss was the fifth in a row. Tulsa (1-5, 0-4 Western Athletic Conference) must win the remaining five to reach its goal.

Up Nov. 3 is No. 2 Oklahoma.

``We'll have to hang in there and continue to compete and continue as a staff to find ways to give this football team a chance,'' coach Keith Burns said. ``And if we do, then the momentum will turn.''

Defensive end Drew McLaughlin added: ``We've got to make plays. If you do, you win. If you don't, you don't.''

Youth at two Tulsa defensive back positions aided a Hawaii offense that ranked second in passing nationally coming in. Nick Rolovich, subbing for the injured Timmy Chang for the third week in a row, threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

Hawaii (4-2, 3-2 Western Athletic Conference) got its third consecutive victory and its first string of three straight conference wins since 1992.

``I think this team is really coming together and starting to gel,'' coach June Jones said. ``The effort is there in all phases of the game.''

Hawaii led 26-7 at the half. Rolovich threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Lelie and the Warriors went up 33-7. Justin Ayat kicked a 55-yard field goal to put Hawaii up 36-7.

Backup quarterback James Kilian ran it from the 2 for Tulsa and Montiese Culton caught the 2-point conversion to finish scoring.

Rolovich had 212 yards at the break.

The Warriors scored first on a 38-yard Ayat kick.

Donald Shoals grabbed a Josh Blankenship pass for a 25-yard score and Tulsa led 7-3 at 7:39 in the first quarter.

Thero Mitchell ran in from the 5 for Hawaii and Abraham Elimimian tackled Tulsa's punter in the end zone for a safety, giving Hawaii a 12-7 lead.

Rolovich amassed 89 passing yards on the next second quarter drive, hitting Lelie from 12 yards out for a score. He later connected with Justin Colbert on a 14-yard pass play.

Blankenship finished 16-of-32 for 121 yards and a touchdown. Shoals caught seven passes for 79 yards. Tulsa only managed 161 yards on the ground, with Blankenship's 54 yards leading TU rushers.