By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The University of Hawaii football team used a balanced offensive attack and an opportunistic defense to outlast New Mexico State in Las Cruces, 41-21. With the victory, the Rainbow Warriors snapped a four-game road losing streak and, more importantly, picked up a much-needed “W” heading into next Saturday’s conference game against rival Fresno State.
Here are some quick observations from today’s game:
♦ FAST OUT OF THE GATE: In their three losses this season, Hawaii was outscored 45-10 in the first quarter. That wasn’t going to happen against NMSU. On Hawaii’s first offensive play, QB Chevan Cordeiro launched a beautiful 74–yard strike to WR Nick Mardner for a TD. On their next possession, UH drove the ball 54 yards into Aggie territory before settling for a 25-yard FG by Matthew Shipley. Then, early in the second quarter, Hawaii LB Quentin Frazier knocked down Aggie QB Jonah Johnson’s lateral pass, and DB Cameron Lockridge scooped up the fumble and returned it five yards for another score. Just like that, Hawaii led, 17-3.
♦ SIMPLY “AGGIE-VATING”: Give credit to NMSU. Although heavy underdogs, the pesky Aggies kept fighting back. They scored 10 straight points to make it 17-13 at the half. It could have been 17-16, but Aggie K Ethan Albertsons missed a 29-yard chip shot near the end of the second quarter.
♦ PROBLEM AREAS: Although Hawaii got the win, a few deficiencies still linger. RB Dae Dae Hunter’s second-quarter fumble led to an NMSU FG. Then, on Hawaii’s next possession, Calvin Turner let a Cordeiro pass bounce off his hands and into the arms of Aggie DB Syrus Dumas, killing a Rainbow Warrior drive deep in NMSU territory.
♦ TURNER-ROUND: Hawaii’s Turner made up for his mistake with another ESPN Sportscenter highlight. Early in the fourth quarter, the all-purpose back took a handoff on a jet sweep to the left side of the field, then pivoted and evaded a crowd of Aggie defenders to scamper toward the right sideline and into the end zone for a 14-yard TD. That gave Hawaii a 31-13 lead and effectively put the game out of reach.
♦ GROUND AND POUND: While UH’s passing game was largely effective – Cordeiro threw for 277 yards and a TD; Mardner had 4 receptions for 120 yards and a TD – it was Hawaii’s running game that put the game away in the fourth quarter. Running behind an inspired o-line, RB Dedrick Parson had his best game as a Rainbow Warrior, finishing with 89 yards and 1 TD. Parson averaged an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. In all, Hawaii totaled 215 rushing yards compared to NMSU’s 121.
♦ NEXT UP: Hawaii returns home to host MW division rival Fresno State this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Hawaii is now 2-3 on the season. The Bulldogs are 4-1.