The strength of schedule has been increasing for the Hawaii Warriors the last few weeks, and to this point, they haven’t handled it well. Coming off of a big loss in Provo the week prior, Hawaii was looking to bounce back against a Nevada team that derailed the Warriors 2017 season. Instead it was the Wolf Pack that played sound football on both sides of the ball, holding Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald to 259 passing yards and a 51% completion percentage, while also sporting a balanced attack on offense. The Wolf Pack would win 40-22, scoring the final 24 points of the game.
Hawaii has become known for their fast starts, and that stayed true to that on Saturday with an 8-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to wide receiver Cedric Byrd. The drive was seamless, and it appeared Hawaii was well on their way to a big day on offense. Nevada would respond by scoring the next 10 points, capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Gangi to wide receiver Elijah Cook. The touchdown seemed to come all too easily for the Wolf Pack offense, and it was foreshadowing of what was to come.
As the first quarter was set to expire, Cole McDonald hit wide receiver John Ursua in stride for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Ursua has 1013 receiving yards and 14 touchdown catches this season. He might be up for Mountain West and maybe even All-American honors. Hawaii would lead 14-10 after one quarter, but wouldn’t score another point until the fourth quarter. A Ramiz Ahmed field goal and Devonte Lee 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter would give the Wolf Pack the 20-14 lead at half.
Nevada wouldn’t look back. A 40-yard touchdown pass from Ty Gangi to Elijah Cook midway through the third quarter would push the score to 26-14 (Wolf Pack went for two and failed). Hawaii’s offense did move the ball into Nevada territory twice, but instead of kicking field goals, Hawaii went for it fourth down and failed twice. Curious decisions, considering that would have put the score at 26-20. Down 26-14 going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors conceded an easy touchdown drive capped by a 13-yard run by running back Toa Taua and it was all charades from there. Nevada would win 40-22, leaving Hawaii 6-3 (3-1) staring down a daunting next two weeks at Fresno State and home vs. Utah State.
It’s been noted plenty of times: Hawaii was a surprising 6-1 going into the BYU game, but S&P ratings suggested Hawaii had been coasting through an easy schedule. The Warriors haven’t done a good job of dispelling that notion the last two weeks. The old saying goes true: on any give Saturday, any team can win, but things are about to get really tough for Hawaii. Fresno State is the best team in the Mountain West and maybe one of the best in the nation, and Hawaii must travel there. The Warriors need to forget this ugly result quickly or next week’s result could give fans nightmares.
UP NEXT: AT the soon-to-be-ranked, unquestioned #1 Mountain West foe Fresno State