The old saying is true: last year is last year.
Hawaii has wiped away the heartache of a disappointing 3-9 2017 season by improbably advancing to 2-0 with victories over Colorado State in Week 0 and now Navy in the home opener, this time by the score of 59-41. Hawaii was once again a double-digit underdog despite their success vs. Colorado State, and once again the Warriors made the Vegas betting line gurus look silly.
Hawaii started off this game in an even more torrid fashion than last week. A 7-yard opening drive touchdown pass from quarterback Cole McDonald to wide receiver Cedric Byrd opened the scoring, and running back Fred Holly III added another touchdown to close the first quarter with Hawaii leading 14-0. A 34-yard long bomb to JoJo Ward made the score 21-0, and another failed Navy drive led to a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Maxwell Hendrie. Hawaii was beating Navy by an astounding 28 points in the early second quarter.
Navy’s offense came to life with two touchdowns before halftime, one a 75-yard sprint by quarterback Malcolm Perry, but it was of little consequence with Hawaii stretching the lead to 38-14 after a long pass to John Ursua for a touchdown and a field goal closed the half.
The contest appeared out of reach, but for back-to-back weeks, Hawaii let their bloodied opponent back into the match. Navy’s Zach Abey scored the only two touchdowns of the third quarter, the second coming after Cole McDonald fumbled inside his own 20 yard line. Just like that, it was 38-28.
The two high-powered offenses traded touchdowns in the early fourth quarter, making the score 45-35 and the shootout that many suspected might happen was on.
Hawaii had more ammunition. A glorious 75-yard touchdown pass from Cole McDonald to JoJo Ward iced the game for the Warriors as they treated the home fans to a 59-41 victory over the Navy Midshipmen.
Hawaii’s 2-0 start to the season has put the West Division of the Mountain West Conference on notice. Surprise contenders emerged in the Mountain West the last two seasons with Josh Allen and Wyoming stunning the Mountain Division in 2016, and Jeff Tedford’s Fresno State Bulldogs improbably winning 10 games and playing in the conference championship game in 2017. It’s premature to suggest Hawaii will be like those teams, but the media and fans were clearly off-base in their expectations for the Warriors.
NEXT UP: The Rice Owls make the long trip to Honolulu for new head coach Mike Bloomgren’s first road game.