By: Tanner Haworth
The University of Hawaii loses against the Stanford Cardinal in their home debut, 37-24. After raising expectations for the level of play in 2023 in a hard-fought game against Vanderbilt last week, the Rainbow Warriors could not stop shooting themselves in the foot, finishing with ten penalties for 107 yards.
Even though the box score shows a 350-yard performance for the offense, any semblance of a rushing attack would actually boost the yards, as Hawaii finished with negative five yards rushing due to the number of sacks Brayden Schager took and the lack of holes opened up for running back Tylan Hines (five carries for five yards). Schager finished the game with 355 yards and three touchdowns while completing 57% of his passes. After finishing with a completion percentage in the 70’s last Saturday, it’s clear to anyone watching that the offensive line this game was clearly out-matched, especially in the first half.
Despite the shaky offensive line, Schager still managed to complete a couple of “Schager-bombs,” including one to the rising star out of the slot, Pofele Ashlock. The redshirt freshman finished with eight catches, 114 yards and two touchdowns to improve on his already impressive debut. His co-star, Kansas transfer Steven McBride, only finished with three catches for 40 yards but had an athletic catch in the corner of the endzone for a toe-tapping touchdown. Junior WR Koali Nishigaya finished with six catches and 52 yards, as he converted a couple of first downs out of the slot as well.
Mentioned above about the penalties, it was those penalties that wiped multiple third-down stops when Hawaii needed them most, and Hawaii will be down two players because of those penalties as well. Junior Meki Pei and senior linebacker Isaiah Tufaga were both disqualified due to targeting penalties on crucial stops, on top of that Pei will only be available to return to play in the second half of next week’s game and Tufaga will have to sit out the entirety of the matchup.
After a combined three straight three-and-outs from both teams, it was Stanford that struck first in a drive finished by E.J. Smith IV, the son of legendary running back Emmitt Smith. After two more three-and-outs, Hawaii finally answered back when Schager found Ashlock wide-open in the corner of the endzone.
There, a typical enemy of past Hawaii defense turned its head: a really good tight end. Ben Yurosek, who will find his way to the NFL by the time he’s done in college, finished with nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown on the following drive in a flea-flicker pass.
After another touchdown from the Cardinal, Hawaii was desperate for points going into the half. In the final seconds of the half, Lahaina native Karsyn Pupunu got a lucky bounce off the hands of a Stanford defensive back and caught a 33-yard pass to set up a Matthew Shipley field goal to go into the half.
In the second half, Stanford poured it on scoring on all of its possessions other than the one that finished the game. Hawaii will have a longer week to recover, and they’ll sure need it. Because if the loss wasn’t enough, there’s fear of the health of cornerback Cam Stone, who is considered Hawaii’s best player on defense. Stone went down with an injury to his left leg after returning a kickoff, and while he was helped off the field with the help of his teammates he did need to be carted off the field eventually.
Coming up? Something easier, we hope. FCS Albany comes into town after taking down Radford, not the high school, and will have a long trip all the way from New York.