Prior to Hawaii’s game against the Washington Huskies in Seattle, optimism was reaching a high point for the program. Hawaii had one win against the Power 5 programs since 2012. They’ve doubled that total this season alone. The jokes were plenty, Hawaii having more wins against the Pac-12 in 2019 than any single Pac-12 team had. Head coach Nick Rolovich got in on the joke by posting a picture of the Rose Bowl’s famous logo on Twitter.
Could Hawaii do the unthinkable and defeat Washington in Seattle, going 3-0 in Pac-12 play? Needless to say, there would be no joking Saturday evening.
Washington would receive the ball first after Hawaii deferred to the second half, and quarterback Jacob Eason wasted no time finding tight end Hunter Bryant for a 47-yard touchdown. The Warrior offense would quickly sputter and punt away. Washington responded quickly with another touchdown, and with 11:36 left in the contest UH was down 0-14. A sizable hole before some drunk fans even got to their seats.
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald would throw an interception on the ensuing drive, and Washington did precisely what Chris Petersen teams do: pounce. A gorgeous throw from Eason found wide receiver Puka Nacua for a 28-yard touchdown and it was clear Hawaii was in for a long afternoon. After one quarter, Hawaii trailed 0-21.
The second quarter wouldn’t provide much relief for Hawaii. Head coach Nick Rolovich would briefly bench starting quarterback Cole McDonald for two drives, a growing trend when McDonald is rarely off. Backup quarterback Chevan Cordeiro has provided a spark several times before, but could not bring that spark in this scenario. Cordeiro’s two drives would fail, and Washington would turn those into touchdowns. On a night where some thought Hawaii might threaten to add another Power 5 feather to the Mountain West’s cap, the Warriors were down an enormous 0-35 with 7:45 remaining in the first half.
Washington would score two more touchdowns on their next drive, but thankfully for Hawaii were both called back by penalties. A field goal would extend the lead to 0-38 Huskies before McDonald would return and finally get Hawaii on the board, but the damage was done. 38-7 Huskies at halftime.
To Hawaii’s credit, this game would not entirely resemble the Norm Chow era maulings of the past. Cole McDonald would come out in the second half and do a better job of scanning the field and finding targets, leading a touchdown drive capped off by a Miles Reed 7-yard touchdown. Reed had a solid afternoon, amassing 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Washington’s offense would punt away after a quick series, and Hawaii would again kill the clock and score another touchdown. This time Cedric Byrd would score courtesy of Cole McDonald. The score 20-38, the Warriors dominated time of possession in the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter, Chris Petersen had seen enough. A Richard Newton touchdown with 12:02 remaining in the game would push the score to 45-20 Huskies. The game was officially out of reach at that point, and both teams would give ample playing time to the reserves. Washington would defeat Hawaii 52-20.
Hawaii’s offensive line was surprisingly good in this game, opening up the running game and giving Cole McDonald more time to throw than expected. These factors didn't matter on a day where the defense was thoroughly dominated. Washington head coach Chris Petersen had seen the run-and-shoot time and time again at Boise State and clearly had his Huskies prepared.
The Warriors will return home to play FCS Central Arkansas next week before beginning conference play.