By: Tanner Haworth
The Rainbow Warriors survived a scrappy Albany team for their first win of the season, 31-20. Whether it was struggling on special teams, leaving the door open for any defensive pressure on Brayden Schager, selfish penalties or injuries to key players, this is the best description of an ugly win anyone could possibly point out.
“It was a good win,” head coach Timmy Chang started to say. “I don’t know why I’m lying to you, it was ugly.”
If you looked at the box score, it looked like a dominant win for Hawaii with the ‘Bows out gaining the Great Danes 379 to 239. Schager more than doubled the passing efforts of Albany quarterbacks Reese Poffenbarger and Trey Lindsey, 266 to 115 yards. Schager finished the night with four touchdowns, but three interceptions as he was doing his best Timmy Chang impression on the field.
And while blame is easy to lay on the junior quarterback, the Great Dane defense finished with five sacks on the night and continually put pressure on Schager as the offensive line continued to struggle through the beginning of the season.
Kansas transfer Steven McBride continued his streak of games with at least one touchdown, hauling in four catches for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His breakout teammate, freshman Pofele Ashlock, finished with the team-lead in receiving yards (74) and four receptions to cool off his hot start to the season.
Schager gift-wrapped an easy touchdown to Jonah Panoke in his first game of the season for a four catch, 47 yard performance for the birthday boy. Sophomore Jalen Walthall pulled down the catch of the night on a 34-yard touchdown with a defender draped all over him.
For the first time this season, the ‘Bows eclipsed 100 yards rushing, finishing with 113 Saturday night. In their first appearances of the season, sophomore Jordan Johnson and senior Nasjzae Bryant-Lelei combined for 111 yards as the reserve backs found running room for the first time this season.
It was a strange night for defense, they impressed as much as they disappointed on multiple fronts. Hawaii finished the night with four sacks, two of which came from junior Ezra Evaimalo as he finished with the team-lead of three tackles for loss. True freshman Elijah Palmer continued his successful debut season as he came down with an interception, the first of the season, and two tackles.
While safety Peter Manuma finished with the team-lead in tackles (8), he also continued an unfortunate streak of untimely unsportsmanlike conduct penalties when the Hawaii defense looked to get off the field on a third down spot. Senior Logan Taylor had an impressive night with seven tackles and two TFL’s, but he was one of the many key defenders who went down with an injury. He, John Tuitupou, Fo’i Sila and Jojo Forest all went down with injuries before the night finished.
Hawaii looks to hopefully get healthy during the week as what stands in front of them is their biggest foe of the seasons in the #13 Oregon Ducks. As much as fans want a historic upset of one of the best teams in the nation, what Hawaii fans should hope for is to come back home as healthy as possible.