By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The Nevada Wolf Pack snapped a two-game losing streak against Hawaii, beating the Rainbow Warriors, 34-17, tonight at Mackay Stadium in Reno. For Hawaii, the loss dropped the team to 3-4 on the season, and 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference. Nevada improved to 5-1 for the year, (2-0) in MW play.
♦ STAT OF THE GAME: Hawaii had to play a near-perfect game to beat the Wolf Pack – Nevada was a 14-point favorite coming into the contest – and fell considerably short. The key numbers here were 5 and 0: The Rainbow Warriors committed five turnovers (4 Brayden Schager INTs and a muffed punt by Hugh Nelson), while the Wolf Pack committed none.
♦ TURNING POINT: Trailing 20-17 at halftime, Hawaii had possession of the ball to start the third quarter. On 1st and 10 on their own 35, however, Schager threw an INT, and that led to a 28-yard TD pass from Carson Strong to Romeo Doubs to increase Nevada’s lead to 27-17. Undeterred, Schager led the Rainbow Warriors on a 13-play drive to the Wolf Pack 18. His next pass was picked off, and Hawaii never entered the red zone for the rest of the game.
♦ UH OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: RB Dae Dae Hunter rushed for 174 yards on just eight carries. He scored on a 75-yard TD run in the 1st quarter and an 81-yard TD in the 2nd quarter. Hunter would later suffer an apparent injury and did not play for the rest of the game.
♦ UH DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Safety Khoury Bethley didn’t have a “Defensive Player of the Week”-type performance like he did two weeks ago against Fresno State, but he still led UH in total tackles with 13 (11 solo, 2 assisted), just one short of his career high. He also had a pass breakup.
♦ UH SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Matthew Shipley connected on his only field goal attempt of the game – a 28-yarder near the end of the first half. Shipley is now 8 for 9 on the season. He also had three punts for a 43.3-yd. average, placing two inside the 20.
♦ GAME GRADE: C. Simply too many mistakes by the offense. Predictably, it just got worse as the Wolf Pack began pulling away. A true freshman, Schager should have a bright future at UH, but right now he’s just not ready for prime time. The play calling was also a little lacking, but the guess here is that the options were limited without the more dynamic and experienced Chevan Cordeiro in the lineup.
♦ WHAT’S NEXT: Hawaii hosts New Mexico State this Saturday (6:00 p.m.) at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex. The 1-6 Aggies had a bye this week. Of course, this game will be a rare in-season rematch for both teams. The Rainbow Warriors beat the Aggies, 41-21, in Las Cruces on Sept. 25.