The history was well-noted prior to the game: Hawaii football has had very little success in Reno, Nevada over the years. Despite the calendar still showing September, it snowed throughout the Saturday afternoon up until kickoff, where the snow turned into sleet. Cold and miserable, it would be easy for Hawaii to fold in these circumstances. After all, that’s how history had played out.
The 2019 Rainbow Warriors had other ideas.
Despite the nasty conditions, Hawaii got off to a hot start on offense and shockingly defense. The Warriors punted on their first drive after reaching midfield, but held Nevada to three-and-out on the Wolf Pack’s first drive, allowing zero yards on the drive.
Then the domination started. Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald found slotback Cedric Byrd on a 36-yard deep ball, catching the Nevada defense too close up to the line of scrimmage. Up 7-0, the Hawaii defense would give up a few long runs to Nevada running back Toa Taua, but a penalty helped the Warrior defense keep the Wolf Pack off the scoreboard.
Early in the second quarter, McDonald would find Byrd again, this time for a 2-yard touchdown. Up for 14-0, Hawaii’s defense would stymie the Nevada offense again, forcing them three-and-out. On the punt, a high snap allowed Hawaii’s Andrew Choi to block the punt and Justice Augafa would scoop and score, giving the Warriors a stunning 21-0 lead.
From there, Nevada would panic. The Wolf Pack would move the ball to midfield, but once again fail on 3rd-down and this time would elect to go for it on 4th-down. Hawaii’s much-improved defense would stop Nevada quarterback Carson Strong’s pass attempt to Kaleb Fossum, forcing the turnover on downs.
Hawaii was not in a merciful mood and immediately pushed the ball down the field, eventually scoring again, this time on a 9-yard run from running back Miles Reed. Hawaii, a 2.5-point underdog, would lead 28-0 with 5:33 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
Nevada would make a quarterback change, bringing in dual-threat option Cristian Solano. Solano would lead the Wolf Pack into the red zone, but Hawaii’s defense would force a field goal. Nevada would covert, down 3-28.
Surely Hawaii would rest on their laurels and take it to halftime, right? That appeared to be the plan. Cole McDonald nearly threw an interception, and Rolovich was seen on television mouthing the words “take a knee.”
Nope. Hawaii would run the
Annexation of Puerto Rico fake the kneel down, slotback Cedric Byrd surprising the Nevada defense for a 29-yard gain. Hawaii would rub salt in the wound with a late field goal, entering the locker room up an astounding 31-3.
Fumbleroosk!? Hawaii pulling out the tricks pic.twitter.com/AgzWiwMJyF— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 29, 2019
The early second half would be more of the same, although with the earlier attending Nevada fans having elected to go home during halftime. Nevada would stick with Solano at quarterback, with similar results. After punting, Cole McDonald would continue to pick apart the Nevada secondary, ultimately leading to another touchdown and giving Hawaii a 38-3 lead.
Nevada, like on several other occasions on the night, would make some progress down the field that would eventually lead to nothing, this time an interception from Hawaii safety Kalen Hicks ending the drive.
Again, Hawaii was not in a merciful mood. Hawaii would score another touchdown in the late 3rd quarter to take a 45-3 lead. I’ll repeat it again: Hawaii was an underdog.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors would
finally take it easy intercept Carson Strong, who returned to the game on that unsuccessful drive. After safety Ikem Okeke’s interception, the Warriors would finally listen to the Wolf Pack screaming, “Uncle!” and put in the second-stringers. Nevada would emphasize their struggles by snapping the ball into the end zone for a safety. Hawaii would blast the Nevada Wolf Pack, winning by a final score of 54-3.
While Nevada is no world-beater, this victory was a resounding statement by Hawaii. Nevada’s defense had shown it was prone to conceding points, but Hawaii’s defense completely dominating a Nevada offense with a few really good skill position players was unexpected. This Hawaii team is more well-rounded than expected and is clearly a threat to contend for the West Division title.
Hawaii reaches the bye week with an overall record of 4-1. Their next game is October 12th at Boise State.