HONOLULU — It's still a painful memory for BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.
He was the Cougars' quarterback 10 years ago, the last time BYU played at Hawaii. Besides the fact he suffered broken ribs that day, he also suffered his first loss as a starting QB after 14 consecutive wins.
The Cougars entered that game in 2001 at Aloha Stadium undefeated and ranked in the top 10. But the Warriors earned a dominating 72-45 victory.
"I remember everything about that game," Doman recalled this week. "We stayed out on the far side of the island (on the North Shore). Our buses arrived late to the game. We didn't have (running back) Luke Staley in that game because he was out with an injury. It was just a tough game from the start, and they were good. It was 21-0 before we could even think straight. I remember that being quite a unique challenge. I broke my ribs in the first quarter of the game. The whole sequence of events that led to that first quarter, nothing seemed to go our way. It was hard. And they just didn't stop. They kept scoring and scoring. We started scoring, but we couldn't catch up. We couldn't stop them."
The Cougars had nine fumbles — they lost six of them — and surrendered seven turnovers.
That disappointing experience makes Doman the resident expert on the rivalry between the two schools as BYU visits Hawaii Saturday (5:30 p.m., MT, ESPN2).
"There are some deep-rooted traditions that go back for years. There have been some pretty heated games that have happened between BYU and Hawaii," Doman said. "You could feel when you got in that stadium that there was a pretty good dislike for BYU. That kind of makes the environment fun. I would suspect that after a long period of time since we last played them, they will be pretty excited for us to come back to that stadium and play them again."
Doman has warned his players about the type of environment they might encounter in Honolulu.
"We've talked about it. None of them have played Hawaii. I don't know how to entirely prepare them for this," he said. "It's like playing Utah or Utah State, a little bit. There are a lot of members of the (LDS) church out there in Hawaii, and that brings some emotion into the game and into the stadium. And then there's the Polynesian culture. We have a lot of Polynesians kids on our team with family out on the Islands. So you draw that emotion into it as well. It makes for a unique football game."
In 2001, Hawaii's Chad Owens electrified the Aloha Stadium crowd by returning the opening kickoff 64 yards, and the Warriors scored two plays later on a touchdown pass, just 23 seconds into the game. Owens struck again later in the first quarter with a 74-yard punt return for a TD. The 5-foot-8 freshman also added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, breaking an NCAA record for most combined kickoff and punt return yards in game — 342.
The 72 points were the most ever scored by Hawaii, and the most ever given up by BYU.
The way Doman sees it, since the Cougars couldn't play archrival Utah at the end of the season, playing Hawaii is the next best opponent.
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"How can it get any better than going to Hawaii for the last game of the season?" he said. "They're fighting to be bowl-eligible. For us, we're trying like crazy to finish the season strong. It will be a good football game. For this year, I think it's the perfect end to the season."
Of course, for Doman, the only thing that would make it truly perfect for BYU would be avenging that ignominious loss to Hawaii a decade ago.
COUGARS ON THE AIR
BYU (8-3) at Hawaii (6-6)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MT
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
TV: ESPN2 Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM