The Warriors are back in black. With the Hawaiian islands featured on the brand new black helmets, quarterback Cole McDonald dazzled in front of a national audience as Hawaii held on to beat Colorado State 43-34 despite nearly blowing a 30-point lead.
McDonald threw for 418 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, while also leading the team in rushing with 96 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Hawaii opened the game with a delay of game penalty. That was the end of Hawaii’s plight on offense. An opening drive touchdown, something Hawaii failed to do the entire 2017 season, finished with a 4-yard touchdown for wide receiver John Ursua. Rams quarterback and Washington Huskies graduate transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels responded with a 14-play drive to tie the game.
Hawaii would tack on a field goal to close the first quarter, and two rushing touchdowns for Cole McDonald had Hawaii leading 23-7 at halftime.
Two more touchdowns highlighted by a gorgeous long bomb from Cole McDonald to Cedric Byrd for a 55-yard touchdown had the Warriors winning by a stunning 37-7 margin. The game appeared to be over.
The Rams then managed to score two quick touchdowns to close the quarter, and scored another after Carta-Samuels linked with wide receiver Preston Williams for a 26-yard touchdown with 8:15 left in the 4th quarter. The comeback was on as all of a sudden Hawaii only led by 10.
Hawaii retaliated with a Ryan Meskell field goal, but Colorado State swiftly responded with another touchdown to make it 40-34. Cole McDonald led a decisive drive that ended in another field goal that cemented the victory for the Warriors.
The run-and-shoot is alive and well. The game lasted nearly 4 hours. Hawaii was as fun and unpredictable as ever. It wasn’t perfect, the defense has some work to do, but considering star linebacker Jahlani Tavai missed the game for breaking team rules, the defense performed admirably at times.
Hawaii was a 17-point underdog. This win for Nick Rolovich and his team is a resounding success and exactly what this program needed to turn around a sad state after a disappointing 2017 campaign.
NEXT UP: Hawaii returns home to face former Hawaii Rainbow Ken Niumatalolo and the Navy Midshipmen.