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Another Setback: Hawaii Warriors blown away by backup quarterback-led Air Force Falcons

Hawaii knocked out Air Force starting quarterback Donald Hammond III, and it did not matter at all

Air Force v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Hawaii returned to Aloha Stadium after a road loss to Boise State to take on the Air Force Falcons. The night started off in exciting fashion with a rare C-17 flyover Aloha Stadium. The C-17 was piloted by Maj. Britton Komine, a former Hawaii football player, and Capt. Nate Dreslinski. A very cool beginning to the night for players and fans.

That flyover, however, was the end of the fun on the night. At least for Hawaii fans, anyway.

Hawaii received the football to start the night, and it appeared to be business as usual with Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald methodically moving the ball down the field to his wide receivers. The Warriors would make it first-and-goal, but a penalty and sack had the Warriors facing third-and-goal from the 30-yard line. Not good! The Warriors would settle for a field goal. It would be the only lead the Warriors would have all night.

On the next drive, Air Force would have two chunk plays quickly find the Falcons deep into Hawaii territory, but it came with a price. Quarterback Donald Hammond III would rush 9-yards for a first-down, but would be injured on the play and had to leave the game. The Falcons would score on a 2-yard run from Kaden Remsberg to put the Falcons up 7-3.

In comes Mike Schmidt. No, not the former Philadelphia Phillies superstar, but backup Air Force quarterback Mike Schmidt. Schmidt was forced into action with Hammond and backup quarterback Isaiah Sanders injured, but Schmidt would not allow any skepticism of the Falcons offense. After the Falcons led 7-3 after one quarter, Schmidt scores from 1-yard out to provide a 14-3 lead for the Falcons early in the second quarter.

Credit Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald. The Warriors defense was absolutely obliterated on the evening, but #13 did everything he could to keep the Warriors alive despite playing catchup. Down 14-3, McDonald found emerging star slotback Melquise Stovall for a 59-yard touchdown to cut the deficit.

It was all for naught. I kid you not, Air Force scored 11 seconds of game clock later. Not-baseball-star Mike Schmidt would find Geraud Sanders for a 75-yard touchdown on the very first play from scrimmage of the next drive. That score put Hawaii down 21-10, and it was becoming clear that Hawaii defensive coordinator Corey Batoon did not have any answers for the Air Force triple option, and possibly miscalculated on the Falcons ability to pass the ball. Mike Schmidt would pass for 147 yards on only five completions, good for 24.5 yards per complete pass. That’s a lot!

Hawaii would respond with a field goal, but Air Force would cash in with another touchdown on the next drive. Four of the Falcons’ five first half possessions resulted in touchdowns. The score 28-13 Falcons, McDonald rallied the Warriors again for a late score before the half, finding Stovall again for a 5-yard touchdown. The Warriors were only down 28-20 at half despite the defense being completely destroyed.

That hope wouldn’t last all night. The third quarter started with Air Force sidelining their big-play offense for an old-fashioned 14-play, clock-killing drive that would result in a touchdown. Hawaii retaliated in the early fourth quarter with a touchdown to JoJo Ward, pulling Hawaii within 9 points after a failed two-point conversion.

That was that, though. At 35-26, the floodgates opened after Hawaii’s final score of the game. The Mike Schmidt show would continue, and Air Force would also score via one of the most insane interception returns you’ll see all season. Multiple deflections, Cole McDonald in an all-out sprint. Wild!

That’s not the way Hawaii wanted to end up on Sports Center. The Warriors knew possessions would be limited for the offense, but nobody expected the defense to completely cave to the Falcons offense. The Warriors were completely dominated Saturday evening, putting their championship game pursuit in danger. Air Force, on the other hand, is still very much in the Mountain West race.

Hawaii moves to 4-3 (1-2) on the season and will travel to Albuquerque next weekend to face the New Mexico Lobos.