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Unsportsmanlike conduct

Police break up postgame fight between Cincy, Hawaii

Posted: Sunday November 24, 2002 5:03 PM
Updated: Sunday November 24, 2002 8:55 PM
  Hawaii and Cincinnati players fight Hawaii and Cincinnati players scuffled for five minutes after Saturday night's game. AP

HONOLULU (AP) -- Punches and foul language replaced postgame handshakes for players from Cincinnati and Hawaii.

Players from both teams charged onto the field and had to be separated by police after scuffling for about five minutes following Hawaii's 20-19 come-from-behind victory over the Bearcats late Saturday night.

"We got a chance to get a lot of licks in," Hawaii offensive lineman Uriah Moenoa said. "They lost the game, and they lost the fight."

Cincinnati athletic director Bob Goin denounced Hawaii officials for creating what he described as an unsafe atmosphere during the game.

"In my 40-year career, it's the worst game management that I have ever seen," he said Sunday. "It was terrible, and the University of Hawaii needs to clean it up."

Tensions built throughout the game, and the Bearcats were whistled for several personal-foul penalties, including a late hit that knocked Hawaii's Timmy Chang out of the game with three minutes left.

Chang had thrown a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Cockheran with just over five minutes remaining to rally the Warriors (9-2).

"It was a cheap shot," Hawaii offensive lineman Vince Manuwai said.

Cincinnati was penalized 14 times for 117 yards, while the Warriors were called for two penalties for 15 yards.

Hawaii running back Thero Mitchell said a Cincinnati player threw a punch as the Warriors' quarterback took a knee to run out the clock.

"Everybody was in each others faces and they were jawing a lot, that was going the whole game," Mitchell said. "One person threw a punch from their team and that's all it took."

Fans threw water bottles and trash at Cincinnati players leaving the field. Police escorting the Bearcats to their locker room used pepper spray to disperse some rowdy fans. No arrests were made.

Hawaii coach June Jones downplayed the confrontation.

"It was unfortunate that it happened, but we scored one more point than they did, so that's all I care about at this point," Jones said. "They came a long way and they lost a tough game. So sometimes emotions get the better of you."

But Goin said Cincinnati fans, cheerleaders, coaches and players were harassed and threatened the entire game by Hawaii fans, in the stands and on the sideline.

"My wife was in the stands, and I feared for her," he said.

Goin said that even Hawaii's mascot, The Warrior, was "totally out of control" and assaulted Cincinnati's mascot.

"Who's in control?" Goin said. "It was sad and disappointing."

Hawaii's athletic department issued a statement responding to Goin's criticism.

"It's unfortunate that a good football game has to be tarnished by the events that occurred on the field after the game," spokeswoman Lois Manin said. "There are a lot of reasons that led up to it. I think the most important was that emotions were running high and that it was a close game and unfortunately those things happen when emotions run high."

If Cincinnati wins its final two games and becomes bowl eligible, there is a chance the Bearcats could face the Warriors in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Day.

"I would love that," Moenoa said. "We can just skip the game and go straight to the fight."

Cincinnati (5-6) limited Hawaii to its lowest point total of the season.

Before being taken from the field in a wheelchair, Chang completed 23-of-42 passes for 219 yards. An X-ray showed no fracture and an MRI exam was scheduled for Sunday.

Hawaii won its sixth straight game and ninth consecutive home game dating to last season.

 
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