Sunday, September 4, 2022 | By Tanner Haworth
Two words describe Western Kentucky’s 49-17 win over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors: deja vu.
A disappointing start to the Rainbow Warriors offense eventually led the ‘Bows to a 21-10 deficit by halftime, the same deficit from the game against Vanderbilt. And another loss to start off the 2022 campaign.
There weren’t over 400 yards on the ground given up like in the season opener, but Hawaii’s offense continued to raise more questions than answers, with three quarterbacks seeing the field and combining for five interceptions. Hawaii’s defense couldn’t apply any pressure on the Hilltopper offense, and QB Austin Reed did whatever he wanted to the exposed secondary.
The conglomerate leading the offense did not impress much, with Brayden Schager finishing 22-33 and 230 yards, Joey Yellen finishing 4-11 and 36 yards in the first quarter, and Cammon Cooper finished with two carries for two yards.
While many of Schager’s four interceptions were products of tipped catches, it’s clear the issue with the offense is a lack of a consistent leader at what is called the most important position on the field.
The day started off rough, Joey Yellen struggling to find anybody to throw the ball to due to the immense pressure from the Hilltoppers. Matthew Shipley boomed a punt 50 yards, and a muffed punt placed the ‘Bows on the three yard line. But after a stuff, a holding penalty and a sack, Shipley finished off the drive with a field goal.
The game stayed at 3-0 for the rest of the first quarter as the Rainbow Warrior defense bent but didn’t break in multiple drives. After a touchdown by the Hilltoppers, Brayden Schager subbed in for a struggling Joey Yellen.
Unfortunately, his first pass was a pick-six to extend the Western Kentucky lead to 14-3. Schager led a drive into redzone before Cammon Cooper, the third quarterback for the ‘Bows, took a speed option and pitched the ball to Dedrick Parson for the rushing touchdown.
That’s where the offense stalled out for the rest of the game, as the Rainbow Warriors could not find an answer to push the ball forward. Brayden Schager’s interception mark rose to four by the end of the game to add to the six total turnovers, with 20 points scored by the Hilltoppers off turnovers.
The defense didn’t fare much better despite Malik Haussman nabbing the only turnover for the game for the ‘Bows. Captain Penei Pavihi led the team with six total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss, but also found himself on the sidelines two different times due to small injuries to his knee and shoulder.
Another loss for the defense were two to the secondary, Leonard Lee and Ty Marsh. Lee finished the half leading the team with tackles, but didn’t finish the game due to an undisclosed injury. Marsh was having a solid game, but was called for a targeting penalty disqualifying him from the game.
Hawaii will go on their first road trip of the year, as they take on the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Michigan finished last season in the college football playoff and is coming off a blowout win of fellow Mountain West member Colorado State, 51-7.