Brown, Kemp lead Hawaii to 34-27 win over AFA in 2 OTs
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Dru Brown to Marcus Kemp pulled Hawaii into a tie in overtime. Take II pushed them over the top as the dynamic duo came through in a big way.
Given a reprieve at the end of regulation by a missed field goal, the Rainbow Warriors took full advantage with back-to-back TD strikes as they beat Air Force 34-27 in double overtime on Saturday to end the Falcons’ 15-game home winning streak.
Brown threw a 25-yard TD pass to Kemp on the first play of the second overtime to give Hawaii (4-4, 3-1 Mountain West) the lead. Jalen Rogers intercepted a Nate Romine pass on fourth down to seal it and the Rainbow Warriors rushed the field in exuberance.
“When the ball went in the air, I just knew it was over,” Rogers said. “I knew I was either going to break it up or pick it.”
Brown and Kemp also connected on a 13-yard score in the first OT after Romine summersaulted into the end zone for a 5-yard score on Air Force’s possession.
Luke Strebel, who had made a Mountain West record 22 straight field goals, had a chance to win it on the final play of regulation, but his 32-yard attempt went wide right.
“They put me in a great spot to make a big play. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t go your way,” Strebel said. “You look back on it and you think, ‘I make that 99 times out of 100. It’s easy.’ It’s a shame that that had to be the one.”
Brown finished with a career-high 312 yards passing for Hawaii, including a 40-yard TD strike to John Ursua to tie it at 20 with 11:51 remaining. He also threw two interceptions after entering with a streak of 112 passes without a pick.
Ursua had seven catches for 108 yards and Kemp six grabs for 151.
“To be a receiver you have to be confident. To be a big-time player you need to be confident in yourself, so I believe I can beat almost anybody,” said Kemp, who burned Air Force senior DB Roland Ladipo for both OT scores.
The Falcons (4-3, 1-3) lost at Falcon Stadium for the first time since Nov. 21, 2013, against UNLV. They’ve now dropped three in a row after a 4-0 start.
There was a scary moment early in the third quarter when Air Force defensive back Jesse Washington was strapped to a stretcher and taken off the field after being tackled during an interception return. The senior was on the ground for several minutes and tended to by team medical personnel. He gave two thumbs up as he was taken off the field.
Washington was traveling up the right sideline on his 27-yard interception return when Hawaii tailback Diocemy Saint Juste tackled him. Washington’s head appeared to snap back.
“That’s our brother and you see him lying there with his eyes closed,” said defensive back Brodie Hicks, who had the interception that ended Brown’s string. “I’ve never been more scared in my life.”
Washington had full movement in his extremities and was taken to a hospital as a precaution, the team announced.
HAWAII: Trailed three times and rallied back. The Rainbow Warriors were routed 58-7 last season by Air Force and a day later, head coach Norm Chow was fired.
“I was just so happy my team came away with the win because of last year and the score last year and the things that we went through,” said Rogers, whose team captured the Kuter Trophy that’s given to the winner of this rivalry. “But things are changing.”
AIR FORCE: The Falcons couldn’t get any sort of passing game going against the Rainbow Warriors. Romine finished 1 for 10 for 20 yards.
GAME BALL TO MOM
Rogers rushed over to the stands and threw the ball he intercepted to his mom.
“Hopefully she got away with it and I don’t have to pay for it,” Rogers said with a smile.
NO BLAME GAME
Air Force got the ball with 8:18 remaining in regulation and methodically worked it down the field, only to have Strebel’s kick sail wide. He connected from 47 and 42 yards in the third quarter.
His teammates had his back.
“Sometimes, you just miss,” Hicks said. “I’m not mad at him at all. The team isn’t.”
HAWAII: Hosts New Mexico next Saturday. The Lobos have won the last six over the Rainbow Warriors.
AIR FORCE: Travels to Fresno State on Friday.
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