HONOLULU — Cal State Fullerton's last act in Aloha Stadium was to trudge the length of the field, the players already showered and dressed, to the buses waiting at the opposite end.
It was a distance, from goal line to goal line, that equalled the Titans' entire offensive output in its 44-0 season-opening loss to Hawaii Saturday night.
Fullerton finished with just 111 yards passing and minus-11 yards rushing against the Rainbows. The Titans were tackled for losses seven times, totaling 40 yards. The quarterbacks were sacked three times, penalized for intentional grounding once and fortunate to get off an incomplete pass on several other occasions.
It was the Titans' worst loss since, well, last season's opener--a 49-3 defeat by Nevada Reno--and their third consecutive opening loss. They had not been shut out since 1983, when Nevada Las Vegas beat them, 13-0, in the last game of the regular season.
Against Hawaii, the offense never advanced farther than the Rainbows' 39-yard line and didn't cross the 50 in the second half.
Much of the blame went to the offensive line, a unit that had been thought to be the team's strength.
Greg Hammond, an offensive lineman who often found himself opposite Al Noga, Hawaii's first-team All-American, said Fullerton didn't react well to Hawaii's defensive shifts.
"We let them shift," Hammond said. "We didn't play our game."
Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy, though, called the trouble a matter of flat-out Hawaii superiority in personnel.
Carlos Siragusa, who started the second half at quarterback, replacing Ronnie Barber (7 of 17 passes, 60 yards), said Hawaii's switching defenses were a problem.
"We didn't adjust. We didn't do what we needed to," said Siragusa, who completed 4 of 9 passes for 15 yards. "We're big and fast, too. They're good, but we're far better than we looked."
The teams played fairly evenly through the first quarter, both struggling with opening-night miscues that led to four first-quarter fumbles and eight penalties for 81 yards between them.
But Hawaii scored on three of four possessions in the second quarter, going up, 21-0. Warren Jones, the Hawaii quarterback who was not named the starter until game day, ran for two of those and threw a 20-yard pass to Koldene Walsh for the other.
Billy Stephens scored two touchdowns on short runs as Hawaii put the game out of reach in the third quarter, taking a 34-0 lead.
"What ran up the score was our inadequacies," said Murphy, whose team plays sixth-ranked LSU at Baton Rouge, La., Saturday night. "I hope (the Rainbows) are as good as they looked to us tonight, because if not, we're really going to get beat up when we go down to Baton Rouge."
Running backs Tracey Pierce (arm) and Michael Moore (knee) both sustained minor injuries that should not affect their playing status. . . . Running back Eric Franklin did not make the trip because of a twisted ankle. . . . Hawaii Athletic Director Stan Sheriff must have had mixed emotions when a wild snap on a Fullerton punt from the Hawaii 39-yard line sent punter Jim Sirois scrambling back after the ball, with Hawaii recovering at the Fullerton 20.The snapper was Sheriff's son, Rich Sheriff, a reserve quarterback who doubles as long snapper. . . . Sirois had one of the better individual performances, 8 punts for 335 yards--a 41.9 average, with a long of 51. . . . Moore, a highly regarded community college transfer from Riverside City College, returned 3 kickoffs for 74 yards, with a long of 41. . .Hawaii's Al Noga had seven tackles, one for a four-yard loss, and a sack for a 16-yard loss. . . . A.J. Jenkins, a community college transfer from Merced who has practiced with the team for a week after clearing his academic eligibility, had 10 unassisted tackles.