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UCLA 44, Hawaii 10

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

Well, that sucked.

In their 2021 season opener, the University of Hawaii football team stumbled out of the gate and never recovered, falling to a much-improved UCLA Bruins team, 44-10, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The home team won every phase of the game, holding the Rainbow Warrior offense in check and running through the UH defense for 246 rushing yards.

Here are five “Quick Takes” from the game:

♦ The Bruins dominated the war in the trenches. Not only did UCLA put up a strong ground attack – Michigan transfer running back Zach Charbonnet led the way with 106 yards and 3 TDs on just 6 carries – the Bruins’ swarming defense also held Hawaii to 26 rushing yards on 21 carries. That’s just 1.2 yards per carry. (UCLA averaged 5.9 rushing yards on 42 carries.

♦ Hawaii received the ball to start the game, but the offense sputtered in its first possession. Then, on 4th-and-6, punter Matthew Shipley’s knee touched the turf as he fielded a low snap, turning the ball over on downs and giving the Bruins 1st-and-10 on the UH 16. The UH defense rose to the challenge here, holding UCLA to a field goal. Still, it was a poor start to the game and an omen of things to come.

♦ Early on, Hawaii seemed disorganized and tentative, burning all three of their first-half time outs in the first quarter. UCLA’s constant pressure on Chevan Cordeiro caused the fourth-year QB to hurry his passes. On the team’s third possession, the Bruins’ pass rush caused Cordeiro to throw an ill-advised pass that resulted in an interception, surrendering the ball to UCLA at the UH 9-yard-line. Bruin RB Brittain Brown would punch it in the end zone to give UCLA a 17-0 lead.

♦ Credit Cordeiro for fighting through adversity. Harassed throughout the game – he was sacked twice and was hit numerous times – he never stopped competing. Cordeiro finished the game with 220 passing yards (25 completions in 47 pass attempts) and a TD with 2 picks. True freshman QB Brayden Schager showed some promise in mop-up duty, going 3-for-6 for 23 yards.

♦ Overall, the outcome was more a result of UCLA’s outstanding play than it was about Hawaii’s failings. Give the Bruins their due. With 20 returning starters from last season, the Bruins finally seem poised for a run in the top half of the Pac-12 Conference. Hawaii head coach Todd Graham said before the game that UCLA would be the best team Hawaii would face all year, and he was right.

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