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Routed Rainbows: Warriors and the under lose big at Boise State

Points were in abundance, but the Broncos had the Warriors at arm’s length all night.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment Boise State walked onto their signature blue turf wearing white helmets and orange jerseys, it was clear this edition of Hawaii vs. Boise State would be unique. Hawaii hoped that new air would introduce a break in a series that has trended Boise State’s way ever since the turn of the century. That was not meant to be on an evening in which #14 Boise State controlled the contest from first to final whistle, albeit with a questionable moment or two.

What wasn’t unfamiliar was the quick start for the Broncos. An opening drive 5-yard touchdown run from wide receiver Khalil Shakir, which was born out of a long throw from Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier to wide receiver John Hightower, gave the Broncos an early 7-0. Hawaii’s offense typically starts strong, but on this night it sputtered early on. The Warriors would give the ball back to Boise State after a punt, who would cash in on a 3rd-down toss from Bachmeier to Hightower. With 8:20 remaining in the first quarter, it would be hard to blame Hawaii fans for thinking, “Oh no, here we go again.”

Hawaii and Cole McDonald would end the talk of another Broncos over Warriors massacre on the next drive. McDonald would find wide receiver Cedric Byrd on a busted coverage for a long gain that would put Hawaii in the red zone. On the very next play, McDonald would find wide receiver Lincoln Victor in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Broncos would lead 14-7 after one quarter, but Hawaii looked like it could play with the Broncos.

Boise State would tack on a field goal from kicker Eric Sachse to make the score 17-7. Hawaii’s offense would continue to sputter, but life was given to Hawaii’s upset bid when Boise State starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier left the game with an injury after the Warrior defense forced a fumble out of the freshman quarterback. Was this the window of opportunity the Warriors needed?

Hawaii’s offense would not capitalize on that gift from the defense. A controversial fumble from Cole McDonald, in which he was struck by Boise State defensive end Curtis Weaver, lodged the ball loose. However, McDonald’s arm appeared to be moving forward. The officials and the replay booth disagreed. From there, Boise State backup quarterback Chase Cord would take over the game. A 33-yard touchdown pass from Cord to Khalil Shakir would prove the Bronco backup was up for the task.

Down 7-31, Hawaii’s offense needed to respond. Instead, wide receiver Jared Smith would fumble the football on the first play of the ensuing drive. Six plays later, the Boise State offense would score on a Robert Mahone touchdown run and suddenly the Warriors were down 7-31 with 2:26 left in the first half as a familiar feeling was beginning to develop.

Once again, as soon a thorough beat down seemed imminent, Hawaii’s offense would awaken again. McDonald would march the Warriors down the field quickly and score a touchdown, this time Hawaii wide receiver Melquise Stovall would shine for the Warriors. Stovall would finish the night with 8 catches, 114 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Hawaii would plug the leaks in the sinking ship, closing the score to 31-14 Broncos at halftime, but it was clear which team was in control of this game. Passing offense, replays, penalties led to a 2+ hour first half of football.

The Broncos would get the ball begin the second half, and this time Chase Cord and the offense would put this contest out of reach. A gorgeous 42-yard bomb from Cord to, yup, you guessed it: John Hightower (who would scorch Hawaii for 141 yards and two scores on the night) would put Boise State up 38-14. Hawaii’s first drive of the second half would result in a three-and-out and a punt. Boise State would score again on the next drive to go up 45-14 and that was all she wrote.

To Hawaii’s credit, down 14-45 in the middle of the third quarter, with Boise State shuffling in reserves on offense and defense, the Warriors refused to oblige in taking their beating and going home. Cole McDonald would score on the next drive to close the large gap, and while even the Boise State backups would score on the smoked Warrior defense in the coming quarter, Hawaii would press on. Throwing over and over, two-point conversion after two-point conversion, on-side kicks, Hawaii would not concede quietly. The final score would show Boise State 59, Hawaii 37.

That score might flatter Hawaii some, Boise State was in kill-the-game mode, but Hawaii’s attempting to establish a culture that finishes, and while the Broncos were clearly the better team, the Warriors did not quit or accept their status of beaten. All the same, Hawaii drops to 4-2 (1-1) and has to be disappointed that on a night where many UH fans hoped for an upset, instead endured another lopsided loss in Boise.

Hawaii will host Air Force next Saturday at 5 p.m. HT at Aloha Stadium. The game will be aired on CBS Sports Network.

Highlights embedded courtesy of @FTBeard11