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January 2, 2008

Brennan bruised, battered as career comes to end

NEW ORLEANS -- In his three years at Hawaii, Colt Brennan set 31 NCAA records. Chances are, the one people will remember most will be his 131 career touchdowns passing.

In his final and most defining game, however, Brennan was shut out and unable to throw a single touchdown pass.

Instead, he was intercepted three times, fumbled twice and was sacked eight times by No. 4 Georgia in the Bulldogs' 41-10 victory over the 10th-ranked Warriors in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

Underneath his helmet, tears flowed and Brennan shrugged his shoulders with his palms upward as he walked off the field at the Louisiana Superdome, telling fans that he tried his best.

``Going into the game, this is the most calm, the most confident I've ever been,'' he said. ``Knowing it was my last game, I was so excited to get out there, and everything went south.''

After a three-year storybook run at Hawaii, where he had fully taken advantage of his second chance at football and life, Brennan's record-breaking career came to a merciful and tearful ending.

``For me, it's a gigantic disappointment,'' he said. ``I'm sure now it's going to leave me up for all the analysts and everybody to take their shots on me, and that's life. Luckily, I've been through a lot tougher things in life.''

Throughout the game, Brennan shook his head, threw his arms up in despair and pointed to his receivers where he thought they should be.

Hawaii's high-flying offense, which averaged 529.2 yards and a nation-leading 46.2 points, had been grounded by the blitzing Bulldogs.

``You know what? I took one right in the mouth today,'' Brennan said. ``Luckily, there's always tomorrow and in the days to come, to get some more redemption.''

Brennan was blanked for the first time in his career in a game he played for more than a couple of snaps. He even had a touchdown pass in his first college game against two-time defending champion Southern California led by Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

On the biggest stage on his career, Brennan knew this was his chance to prove he can play with the best.

Instead, all he ended up hearing was the echoing chant of ``overrated'' from Georgia fans.

It wasn't all his fault. His usually sure-handed receivers dropped a few passes and his offensive line was dominated. Brennan was battered and dazed.

``It was the fastest team I've probably ever seen,'' he said. ``We just couldn't get into our groove and do what we wanted to do.''

A Heisman Trophy finalist, Brennan was 22-of-38 for 169 yards and lost two fumbles. The 169 yards was also the lowest total in a game he took most of the snaps.

His career, nonetheless, is still one of the best in college football history.

Brennan has completed an NCAA-record 70.4 percent of his passes for 14,193 yards and was responsible for 146 total touchdowns.

Warriors coach June Jones has repeatedly said Brennan is the best player in college football. On this night, Brennan wasn't even the best inside the Superdome.

Officially, his career came to an end with 14:32 left when he was sacked for the eighth time. Despite telling trainers he was fine, he was led off the field and replaced by backup Tyler Graunke.

As he was walked into the locker room, the first person that greeted him was Jones, who made Brennan an island icon.

``I'm proud of him and the career he had,'' Jones said. ``I wish he could have finished, obviously, better than he did tonight. But I think that had a lot to do with Georgia and not so much him.''



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