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Hawaii beats UNLV 38-21, keeps Island Showdown Trophy

A stressful 2020 ends in victory for Hawaii football

UNLV v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

2020 has been a long and turbulent year for many, some more than others. Football is just a game, one we’re glad Hawaii was able to play in its entirety. Over the past few weeks, college football has seen the bowl season shrink seemingly day-by-day. One of those bowl games that was canceled was the Hawaii Bowl. The Hawaii Warriors knew coming into Saturday’s game that while a 4-4 record would make the Warriors bowl eligible, it’s unlikely Hawaii is leaving the island again this season. The season finale against UNLV featured a trophy at stake, and this was Hawaii’s last hurrah in a truly awful year.

Hawaii decided to close things on a positive note.

I know, I know, you’re sick of me bringing it up, but one of the common themes of this 2020 football season for UH has been slow starts. It’s plagued them all season. Finally, Hawaii put this to an end.

UNLV received the ball to open the contest, and promptly went three-and-out. It took Chevan Cordeiro all of 0:38 of game time to make an impact, scoring from 58-yards out. As a passer, it’s been mostly hit, sometimes miss from Cordeiro in 2020, but nobody can debate his elite ability as a scrambler. Special.

Hawaii’s defense dominated the first half, forcing five punts and two fumble recoveries in the half, albeit while conceding a touchdown late in the half when sushi man Max Gilliam took over at quarterback for the Rebels. Prior to that, Hawaii added two touchdowns before the halftime break, one from promising freshman running back Dae Dae Hunter from 1-yard out, and another guessed it! Hawaii superstar Swiss Army knife Calvin Turner Jr., who burst through the defense for a 28-yard score. Turner has to be a lock for all-conference, right?

UNLV’s late touchdown in the first half cast a tiny bit of doubt entering the second half, but Hawaii slammed that door shut pretty quickly. Cordeiro completed a pass to Calvin Turner Jr. for 71-yards to set up a touchdown for Koali Nishigaya, the former Saint Louis School product. Head coach Todd Graham and his staff had been itching to get Nishigaya involved. Hawaii’s lead grew to 28-7, and while UNLV put up a fight during the remainder of the game, the Nishigaya touchdown essentially sealed the deal.

While UNLV quarterback Max Gilliam was in the headlines this week for hilarious reasons, he performed well along side star running Charles Williams, and might have made this game more interesting had he started from the beginning. Williams rushed for 149 yards yards and 2 touchdowns on the evening, and is one of the more unheralded stars in the conference.

The effort wasn’t enough, however. Cordeiro would add another rushing touchdown before the end of the third quarter to make the score 35-14 Warriors, and from there it was a clock-killing affair that would result in Hawaii defeating UNLV 38-21 and ending the season with a 4-4 record.

The standout performers in 2020 were players like Chevan Cordeiro, who led the team in passing and rushing yards. Do-it-all weapon Calvin Turner Jr. had 729 yards from scrimmage in 8 games played, which is just outrageous. Mililani product Darius Muasau finished the season with 93 tackles (!!). The second closest in tackling to Muasau had 52 (Khoury Bethley). Muasau led the Mountain West in tackles.

Again, Hawaii is technically bowl eligible, but with Mountain West affiliated bowls being canceled every few days it seems, this was probably the end of the 2020-2021 season for Hawaii. The year began with Nick Rolovich shockingly leaving for the Pac-12, was interrupted in the middle of the year by the pandemic, and ends with Hawaii frankly doing pretty darn well on the gridiron all considered.

That’ll do it, folks. Next time we’ll see Hawaii on our TV screens/phones and hopefully in-person will be August 28th, 2021 at the Rose Bowl against UCLA. Hawaii will also play at Oregon State in 2021, and is scheduled to play New Mexico State twice (yes, for real). Hawaii will draw Colorado State, Utah State, and Wyoming from the Mountain Division. I sincerely hope we can all enjoy Hawaii Warriors football a bit more peacefully next fall. Thoughts and prayers to readers of these posts who’ve been impacted by the global pandemic. I believe better days are ahead for us all, including Hawaii football.

Mele Kalikimaka, Warriors fans.

EDIT: HOLD UP. Apparently Hawaii may NOT be done?!