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Rainbow Warriors dominated in 51-31 loss to Utah State

Hawaii’s defense conceded 564 total yards, 406 through the air in humbling loss

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Hawaii at Oregon State Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hawaii traveled to Logan, Utah with the intention of turning around an ugly trend. Since joining the Mountain West together in 2012, Hawaii had lost to Utah State four consecutive times by an average score margin of 33.7 points. With upset on the mind, the hope was that the Warriors would at the very least keep the game competitive. The point spread ranging from -5 to -6 USU seemed to lend confidence toward that feeling. Unfortunately, it was far from the case Saturday afternoon as the Aggies rocked the Warriors 51-31.

The Warriors received a welcomed boost prior to kickoff when it was announced that quarterback Chevan Cordeiro would return to the starting lineup. Hawaii received the opening kickoff and promptly went three-and-out. On Utah State’s opening drive, reserve running back Elelyon Noa carved up the Warriors leading to a 3-yard touchdown run from the Aggie running back.

Hawaii settled down on the next drive, marching 70-yards on 12-plays as Cordeiro operated the passing game. Unfortunately, Cordeiro through an ill-advised pass on 3rd-and-goal from the 5 that was intercepted. The touchback brought the ball out to the Utah State 20-yard line. That was the stage for the Logan Bonner show. The Utah State quarterback absolutely destroyed the Hawaii defense. A 45-yard touchdown pass from Bonner to wide receiver Justin McGriff put the Aggies up 14-0. It wouldn’t be the last time the Hawaii defense was beat deep. After one quarter, Hawaii appeared poised for a whipping.

The two teams traded second quarter field goals, putting the score at 17-3 Aggies. Finally, in the late second quarter, the Warriors made their move. Cordeiro found running back Dedrick Parson on a broken play for a 29-yard touchdown.

Closing the score to 17-10, the Hawaii defense could not hold up for even a minute in this contest as the Aggies tacked on a field goal before the halftime break. Aggies led 20-10.

What can I say? The third quarter was a complete debacle for the Warriors. Logan Bonner and co. absolutely lit up the Warriors, scoring touchdowns on the first three drives to begin the second half. Yes, all three. These weren’t cheap drives either, the shortest scoring drive was 69-yards. The Aggies led 41-10, and I wouldn’t have blamed fans for turning off the TV.

I’ll give Todd Graham this: his teams do not quit.

Hawaii rallied late in the third quarter. An 8-play, 67-yard drive resulted in Chevan Cordeiro finding Koali Nishigaya for a 12-yard score, Nishigaya’s first career receiving touchdown.

On the next drive, emerging safety Solo Turner forced a turnover on Aggie quarterback Andrew Peasley. Hawaii cashed in that turnover with a 27-yard Calvin Turner Jr. touchdown, followed by a successful two-point conversion. Just like that, 41-10 was now 41-25 Aggies. Through three quarters, the Warriors weren’t totally finished just yet.

As with much of the afternoon, once Hawaii made up some ground, it was conceded right back. The Aggies next drive resulted in a field goal, making it a three-possession game. The excitement wasn’t over, defensive back Eugene Ford took a bizarre fumble 60-yards in the other direction for Hawaii’s fourth defensive touchdown of the season. The two-point attempt failed, making the score 44-31 Aggies.

As noted earlier, again once it seemed it like Hawaii was keeping the Aggies within arm’s length, they Aggies would shake it off. Utah State added another touchdown, this one humiliatingly after the Aggies recovered the onside kick and returned it for a touchdown. An eventful mess, Hawaii lost 51-31 to Utah State Saturday afternoon and now faces a bit of an uphill climb to bowl eligibility.

Hawaii’s defense was so poor on the day, a mostly experienced secondary gave up far too many big plays. Chevan Cordeiro is still easing his way back into playing form, but the offense wasn’t the problem against Utah State. Hawaii’s up-and-down defense reached rock bottom Saturday evening.

Hawaii returns home next week for a pivotal clash against the now unranked San Diego State Aztecs. The Aztecs were ranked 21st in the polls, but lost to Fresno State. Clarence T.C. Ching Complex will be full capacity for game that will air on FS1.