Hawaii got off to a slow start in their first bowl game since 2010 when Middle Tennessee State State jumped out to a 14-0 lead. I’Tavius Mathers scored on 20 yard touchdown run and Brent Stockstill found Richie James for a 51 yard touchdown.
The Warriors responded with some help from their defense after Ikem Okeke forced a fumble that was recovered by Jahlani Tavai and returned to MTSU 18 yardline. The next play Dru Brown found Metuisela ‘Unga in the endzone for an 18 yard touchdown.
The Hawaii defense came up big again when Jalen Rogers picked off Stockstill at the MTSU 45 yard line. The ‘Bows hit a deep pass to John Ursua for 44 yards that set up first and goal from the one yard line and Steve Lakalaka ran it in for the touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.
The Rainbow Warriors would take their first lead of the game after an 8 play, 80 yard drive that was capped off by a two yard Dru Brown touchdown run.
The ‘Bows made another big play when Trayvon Henderson intercepted Brent Stockstill and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown, putting Hawaii ahead 28-14.
After Hawaii put up 28 unanswered points the Blue Raiders responded with a touchdown when Ty Lee catch a screen pass and ran it from three yards out to make the score 28-21.
The Rainbow Warriors answered MTSU by scoring another touchdown, after a huge hit on Dru Brown and a couple of offsetting penalties including Ikaika Woolsey coming off the bench to hit someone. On 3rd and 13 Brown went deep to Marcus Kemp for a 39 yard touchdown with 22 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, Hawaii would go into Halftime leading the Blue Raiders 35-21.
The Blue Raiders were forced to punt after going three and out on their first drive of the second half. Dru Brown lead the Warriors on a 7 play, 54 yard drive that ended with Rigoberto Sanchez making a 23 yard field goal.
Middle Tennessee State was able to score to make it a 10 point game after Stockstill found Dennis Andrews for a 10 yard touchdown. The 7 play, 75 yard drive only took 1:55 off the clock.
The next drive for Hawaii included a crazy trick play on a fake punt where Makoa Camanse-Stevens completed a pass to Ammon Barker for 21 yards and a first down. The drive ended with Brown finding Metuisela ‘Unga for second time, this time from 12 yards to put the Warriors up 45-28.
After another Middle Tennessee State punt and a turnover on downs for Hawaii, the Blue Raiders were able to put together a drive. They went on a 55 yard drive that was aided by two big Hawaii penalties and was capped off by Richie James running for a 13 yard touchdown.
An impressive 11 play drive that went for 84 yards taking 6:38 off the clock and ended in a touchdown helped the Rainbow Warriors lock up the win. John Ursua was huge for Hawaii coming up big on two third down plays to keep the drive going. Brown found Dylan Collie on 3rd and goal for a 4 yard touchdown.
After a fourth and goal stop by the defense, Hawaii was able to end the game by taking a knee and pick up their first bowl win since 2006 beating MTSU 52-35.
Nick Rolovich goes 7-7 in first season as Hawaii head coach, turning around a team that finished 3-10 last season. Dru Brown was the star for the Rainbow Warriors in this game going 19 of 29 for 275 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added a rushing touchdown. Sainte Juste had 170 yards on 25 carries, John Ursua had a big day in the passing game catching six passes for 120 yards.
The bowl game victory is great way for Hawaii to end their season under a first year head coach who has a lot of work to do to rebuild the Rainbow Warriors.