Players of the game
Driphus Jackson: Rice quarterback passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 41 more yards.
Brian Nordstrom: Rice defensive end had six solo tackles, two QB hurries and blocked FG attempt.
Karl Mickelsen: Fresno State inside linebacker had 11 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and one sack.
Play of the game
Third quarter, 6:18 remaining: Fresno State was hanging in, thanks to a defense that righted itself after a shaky start. Rice had converted only two of its first nine third-down plays, but on a third-and-2 Driphus Jackson hit Dennis Parks outside and he was able to get a block on cornerback Malcolm Washington, break a tackle by outside linebacker Donavon Lewis and go 40 yards for a touchdown that put the Bulldogs in a 23-6 hole.
Number of the game
-5: That’s minus-5 yards, the Bulldogs’ worst opening drive by yards gained this season.
268: Total yards for Rice in the first quarter, a season high allowed by the Bulldogs.
4: Total yards for the Owls in the second quarter.
55.8: Season completion percentage for Brian Burrell, lowest by a Bulldogs QB since Tom Brandstater (54.5%) in 2006.
18: Interceptions thrown by Burrell, the most by a Bulldogs QB since Kevin Sweeney (19) in 1983.
1: Quarterback in the nation that has thrown more interceptions this season than Burrell.
12: Tackles for loss by Rice.
25: Receiving yards for Bulldogs wide out Josh Harper,
2.4: Yards per pass play for Fresno State, 93 yards on 38 pass plays.
12.5: Yards per pass play for Rice, 326 yards on 26 pass plays.
1: Trip into the red zone by Fresno State.
5: Explosive plays of 20 or more yards for Rice, four through the air.
6.9: Average yards to go on the Bulldogs’ 21 third-down plays.
-- Fresno State junior Claudell Louis made his first career start, filling in for Maurice Poyadue at defensive end.
Poyadue, a junior, was one of four Bulldogs suspended for the Hawaii Bowl for violating an athletic department policy. Sophomore receiver Myles Carr and reserve linebackers Michael Lazurus and Xavier Ulutu also were suspended.
-- When Rice made a 21-yard field goal on its first drive, it marked the third straight bowl that Fresno State’s opponent got on the scoreboard first.
-- Brandon Connette, a quarterback transfer from Duke, made a cameo appearance and entered for starting quarterback Brian Burrell. Fresno State went three-and-out with Connette under center after three straight runs — for 1 yard by Dillon Root and two 3-yarders by Marteze Waller.
-- Waller started at running back after missing most of the final two quarters of the Mountain West championship at Boise State on Dec. 6 with a shoulder injury. But Waller was shut down in the first half Wednesday, gaining 7 yards on six carries before landing on the bench in favor of senior Josh Quezada.
-- Though much of Aloha Stadium was empty — a normal sight when the hometown program Hawaii isn’t in the bowl — Fresno State native Ubaldo Herrera was escatic to attend the game. Herrera is in the Navy has been living in Oahu with wife Tanay while stationed on the island.
“As soon as we found out Fresno State was in the Hawaii Bowl, we went on the Internet and bought tickets,” Ubaldo said. “Love the ’Dogs.”
Despite the near-empty stadium, the Honolulu venue still managed to shake from the press box when fans stomped in the stands.
-- Fresno State failed to score a touchdown in the first half for the fourth time this season and trailed Rice 16-6 at the break. The Bulldogs lost all three of the three other games: They trailed 21-0 at Boise State in the Mountain West championship and eventually lost 28-14; they fell behind 17-0 at UNLV and lost 30-27 in overtime; and they were down 27-5 to Nebraska in an eventual 55-19 loss.
-- Fresno State five-year senior Josh Harper finished with four catches for 25 yards in his first and only bowl. Harper had been injured during the Bulldogs' bowl games his sophomore and junior years. He also finished six catches shy of setting Fresno State's career receptions record, which still belongs to Davante Adams (2012-13) at 233. Harper needed 10 receptions going into the Hawaii Bowl to set the record.
-- Rice had a big sack to end Fresno State's first drive of the second half. But the Bulldogs returned the favor when middle linebacker Karl Mickelsen blitzes and decleated quarterback Driphus Jackson for a punishing sack. Mickelsen finished tied with Ejiro Ederaine with 11 tackles. Ederaine, who is scheduled to have surgery on both of his shoulders during the offseason, left the game midway through the fourth quarter.
-- Safety Derron Smith, Fresno State's defensive captain and a three-year starter, made seven tackles in his final game and became the sixth player in Bulldogs history to amass 300-plus tackles.
-- The announced attendance was 25,365, with some issued tickets in the figure. But the 13,922 who came through the turnstiles represented the smallest crowd in Hawaii Bowl history. Game executive director Dave Matlin blamed the rainy weather. There was a downpour Monday on Oahu but there was no rain Tuesday or Wednesday.