Typically this is the time fans state that this season blew by fast, but frankly Hawaii’s thrilling win over Arizona in Week 0 feels like half a year ago. Hawaii starts its football seasons a week earlier than most, and usually plays a 13th game. That’s a long regular season. Add in the travel issues the Warriors endure, but it’s nothing short of remarkable that head coach Nick Rolovich led the 2019 Warriors to a 9-4 record despite all the athletic department’s shortcomings.
Hawaii did not dishonor their accomplishments by easing through things on Senior Night against Army in an attempt to prep early for the Mountain West Championship. It was full speed ahead on a night where the Warriors won 52-31.
If you enjoy points, this was your football game. Hawaii struggled with the triple option offense back in October when Air Force came to town, and for the most part Hawaii struggled with it again, being outgained 538-492. A 69-yard pass from Kelvin Hopkins Jr. to Artice Hobbs IV set up a short touchdown run that allowed Army to lead 7-0 early. The next two drives produced a field goal for each team making it 10-3 Black Knights and it was clear early on that neither defense would be dominating this contest.
On Hawaii’s next drive, a long run from running back Miles Reed set up a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chevan Cordeiro to wide receiver Jason-Matthew Sharsh. Cordeiro received the start on the night in Hawaii’s never-ending quarterback controversy, but Cordeiro wouldn’t finish the game after leaving with an injury in the second quarter. He was cleared to return but quarterback Cole McDonald remained the starter.
As Army led 17-10, the game took a turn when Black Knights quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. threw an interception to linebacker Solomon Matautia that would set up another Hawaii touchdown. From there, the Warriors would dominate this game offensively. A few plays after Cordeiro left the game injured, McDonald found the recently-surging Jason-Matthew Sharsh for a 4-yard touchdown to lead 24-17 at half.
Second half: offense, offense, offense. The first FOUR possessions of the second half all resulted in touchdowns. Even Army, who’s offense tends to kill the clock, only needed 5:44 of clock to score their two touchdowns. Hawaii would lead 38-31. After several quarters of neck-breaking fast offense, the game reached a halt when both teams traded several punts.
Despite having absolutely no answer for the run-and-shoot offense whatsoever, Army was still in the game in the fourth quarter. A drive installed with the purpose of tying the game died for the Black Knight on 4th-and-5 from the Hawaii 30 as Army quarterback Christian Anderson, who replaced the injured Kelvin Hopkins Jr., couldn’t complete a pass on the final down. If there was one clear difference between Air Force’s triple option and Army’s edition, it’s that the Black Knights aren’t nearly as good at throwing the ball.
That 4th-down failure was essentially the final nail in the coffin. Hawaii scored once more on a 20-yard pass from Cole McDonald to Jared Smart. McDonald finished with 250 passing yards and 3 touchdowns coming off the bench. Army would march down all the way to the Hawaii 1 in effort to stay in the game, then madness broke out as Army quarterback Jemel Jones (yes, another backup) threw a 100-yard pick-six to Hawaii cornerback Rojo Farris. Hawaii beat Army 52-31 to finish the regular season 9-4 (5-3).
Next up: Hawaii travels to Boise State next Saturday to play for the Mountain West Championship game. The Broncos are 11-1 (8-0) on the season and ranked 20th in the College Football Playoff Poll as of today. Does Hawaii have another magical moment in them for fall 2019? The game starts at 2 p.m. MT and will air on ESPN.