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Hawaii comes back to Earth in 31-7 loss to Wyoming

Warrior offense sputters as Hawaii splits back-to-back road games to open the 2020 season

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

College football is often a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you’re riding high, the next reality is harsh. Hawaii traveled to Laramie, Wyoming in good heart after defeating Fresno State comfortably on the road last week. Splitting the road trip was the realistic goal, and with that achieved Hawaii was dreaming of a surprise 2-0 start. Wyoming had other ideas.

Much like last week’s game, Hawaii started poorly. Wyoming opened the game with a 5-play, 62-yard scoring drive that immediately displayed the 50-something lbs advantage the Cowboy offensive line had on the Warrior defensive line. Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay rushed for 162 yards on 32 carries for 2 touchdowns on a Friday evening where the Pokes returned to the basics and displayed their strength in the trenches.

On the next drive, Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro fumbled on a bizarre play where the ball slipped out of his hands as he was attempting to throw the ball. Wyoming would cash in the turnover with a field goal to make the score 10-0.

From the remainder of the first half, a punt-a-thon would break out until a missed Wyoming field goal gave Hawaii the opportunity to respond before halftime. Cordeiro would find wide receiver Zion Bowens for a long connection that set up a touchdown for running back Dae Dae Hunter. Bowens only had one catch, but the 47-yard connection was enough for him to be UH’s leading receiver on the night.

Despite being largely dominated in the first half, Hawaii only trailed 10-7 at halftime.

Hawaii carried over that momentum into the early third quarter, but a promising opening drive ended with a missed field by freshman Matthew Shipley, who has struggled to this point in the season.

That, unfortunately, was the end of anything positive for Hawaii on the evening. Despite the massive size disadvantage upfront, Hawaii’s defensive front seven fought valiantly all evening, but eventually the weight of being on the field all night began to be too much. An 11-play, 72-yard clock-guzzling touchdown drive would give Wyoming a 17-7 lead in the third quarter, and Hawaii’s chances for victory would vanish after a bizarre sequence led to an interception thrown by Cordeiro.

From there on, it was one-way traffic as Wyoming would clobber Hawaii 31-7 en route to bringing the Paniolo Trophy back to Laramie.

The stats don’t always tell the entire story. Nobody will confuse holding a team to 31 points and 393 total yards as a defensive gem, but Hawaii’s defense prevented this contest from being a complete massacre on Halloween Eve. As noted earlier, the defense performed admirably despite being overpowered frequently. They provided the offense with chance after chance to rally from behind.

The offense could not bail them out. Hawaii’s wide receivers dropped several great passes from quarterback Chevan Cordeiro on the opening, passes that could have changed Hawaii’s fortunes, but that doesn’t mean Cordeiro is without fault. Finishing the game 11/26, 110 passing yards, and 1 interception, while only managing 1 rushing yard on 9 carries was a far cry from Cordeiro’s performance at Fresno State. Some of the sacks were on the offensive line, other times Cordeiro held onto the ball too long. Wherever the blame is attributed, this was a humbling evening for Hawaii’s quarterback and the offense as a whole. They were dominated from beginning to end.

Enough of the mainland, Hawaii will return to Oahu next week to take on the New Mexico Lobos in a potential get-right game for the Rainbow Warriors, who moved to 1-1 on the season Friday night in Laramie.