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Dominance and Redemption: Ward, Meskell lead Hawaii to 31-28 victory over Oregon State

Hawaii collects their second straight victory over the Pac-12

Oregon State v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

To the average viewer, Hawaii vs. Oregon State doesn’t jump out on paper as a football game likely to feature tense emotions. The two programs from different conferences occasionally clash, someone wins and someone loses (it’s been mostly Oregon State winning since 2000). This meetup, however, was different.

Contention between the two programs was born in 2018, when Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich called out the Oregon State program for attempting to recruit active Hawaii Warriors players. The Beavers said it was an accident. Whatever the reality, tension was established.

Fast-forward to 2019, Hawaii hosted Oregon State to play at Aloha Stadium two weeks after Pac-12 foe Arizona came to town. Despite coming into the game as a stiff underdog, the Beavers delivered the punches in the first quarter. Running back Jermar Jefferson went off on the Warriors, starting off with a 4-yard touchdown run in the middle of the first quarter. Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald responded by doing what he does and retaliating immediately by finding JoJo Ward in the end zone for a 29-yard score.

Oregon State wouldn’t blink, scoring on a long run from running back Artavis Pierce to retake the lead 14-7. After the beginning of the second quarter, big-time Oregon State wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins would score on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Jake Luton, who otherwise had an inconsistent evening. At this point, Oregon State led 21-7 and was clearly not here for the blowout talks.

Cole McDonald would come right back and do what he does: find JoJo Ward. The seemingly weekly score-for-score back-and-forth would continue with an Oregon State score, making the score 28-14 Beavers until McDonald found Ward for a touchdown again! Ward would finish the contest with an insane 189 receiving yards on 10 catches and 4 touchdowns.

Ward would score that 4th touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28. Then something totally unexpected happened: a defensive struggle broke out. Oregon State would turn the ball over on downs twice, once on a poorly-executed fake punt in their own territory. Hawaii would not cash in the Beavers miscues, stalling several times. The usually reliable kicker Ryan Meskell missed three field goals on the night, and as a result this game was up for grabs in the late fourth quarter.

About that failed fake punt from Oregon State: it would set up Hawaii with a short field. McDonald found, guess who, Ward for a 12-yard gain that was then aided by a personal foul penalty. Hawaii could not score a touchdown, but gave Ryan Meskell a fourth opportunity for a field goal. This time, the Warriors kicker didn’t miss from 28-yards out to give the Warriors the 31-28 lead.

Oregon State would retaliate on the next drive by moving quickly down into Hawaii territory, but stalling at the 34-yard line. The Beavers would attempt a 52-yard field goal and would miss. From there, pushing and shoving occurred, but none of the on-field action resulted in the Beavers threatening. Hawaii defeats Oregon State 31-28 to move to 2-0 in the Pac-12 overall.

Needless to say, head coach Nick Rolovich and his team are feeling themselves.

Hawaii will play a THIRD consecutive Pac-12 opponent next week in the Washington Huskies, who dropped in the AP and coaches polls after losing to California in the early hours of Sunday.