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Rainbow Warriors hold off Rams in 50-45 shootout

Cordeiro and the offense shined on Senior Night in front of the Warrior faithful

SJSU v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Hawaii honored 17 seniors on Saturday evening in front of 5,315 fans at Clarence T.C. Ching Complex, an emotional evening for all involved. Considering the struggles Hawaii’s offense had experienced in prior weeks, I doubt many spectators expected to witness a shootout between the Warriors and Colorado State Rams, but that’s precisely what happened. Hawaii had 29 points at halftime. Colorado State scored 28 points in the fourth quarter alone. Madness in Manoa.

Hawaii kept kicker Matthew Shipley busy in the first quarter, he buried all three of his field goal attempts. Hawaii conceded a 69-yard touchdown pass from Colorado State quarterback Todd Centeio to tight end Cameron Butler. Hawaii were dominated by the Rams’ tight ends Saturday evening, but oddly enough not by superstar tight end Trey McBride. The score was 9-7 through one quarter.

Colorado State added a field goal in the early second quarter to take a 10-9 lead. From there through to halftime, the Warriors came alive. Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was masterful in his ability to evade heavy blitzes all evening, evidenced best by his 15-yard touchdown run to give the Warriors a 16-10 lead.

Colorado State’s ensuing drive would fail, but star punter Ryan Stonehouse pinned the Warriors deep in their own territory. No need to fret, that just presents the opportunity to set school records! From his own 7-yard line, Cordeiro found wide receiver Zion Bowens for a 93-yard touchdown pass, the second-longest in program history. Considering this program’s run-and-shoot past, that’s saying something. The two-point attempt failed.

Instead of licking their wounds and calling it a half, Colorado State pressed their luck and paid for it. Instead of running out the remaining 0:23 on the clock, Todd Centeio forced a ball to a spot Trey McBride was supposed to be near and cornerback Cameron Lockridge intercepted the ball and returned to the house for six. Hawaii led 29-10 at halftime on an evening where some weren’t sure if they’d score 29 points the entire game.

Hawaii kept the foot on the gas to begin the second half, or at least initially. Linebacker Darius Muasau, who should be named all-conference after the season, forced a fumble right out of the gate to begin the half. The Hawaii offense didn’t capitalize, but Muasau would make his presence felt again on a 3rd-down sack that forced the Rams into 36-yard field goal that’d sail wide right.

Hawaii would drive the ball into the Rams’ half, and Cordeiro struck once again, this time from 42-yards out to wide receiver Nick Mardner. At 36-10, many fans were cheering loudly, while also wondering where this offense has been all season.

Of course, as is typical with the 2021 Hawaii Warriors, it can’t be that easy, right?

Hawaii played like the W was in the bag, but Colorado State kept fighting and rallied off three unanswered touchdowns. With 7:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, Colorado State running back David Bailey sprinted 31-yards to the house to cap off a huge comeback to make the score 36-31. Suddenly, it was game on.

Hawaii’s offense turned off the cruise control and answered on the following drive, a 10-yard touchdown run from Dedrick Parson gave the Warriors a 43-31 lead.

Time to exhale? Nope, Colorado State responded with a 62-yard strike from Centeio to wide receiver Dante Wright. Again, the Hawaii offense would need to ice the game. Thankfully the closer, also known as Dedrick Parson, was up for it. His 37-yard run to the end zone ended up being the winning score.

Even then, Colorado State did not quit. The Rams tacked on another seven points with 0:17 remaining in the game. Colorado State scored 28 points in the fourth quarter! Todd Graham will not be thrilled about his team not finishing strongly, this was a 26-point game at one point. That said, the ensuing onside kick attempt failed and Hawaii won 50-45 on Senior Night, stealing a script from the mid-2000s WAC.

Chevan Codeiro threw for 406 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Wide receiver Zion Bowens finished with 172 receiving yards seemingly out of nowhere. CSU’s Todd Centeio finished with an insane 527 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. Go figure.

After two straight games in which Hawaii’s offense was essentially dominated by San Diego State and UNLV, some fans were speculating about offensive coordinator Bo Graham’s status going forward. One game cannot solve everything, but Hawaii certainly feels better about the offense after an unexpected 50-burger.

Hawaii will inexplicably conclude the 2021 season next week in freezing Laramie, Wyoming. The game will start at 10 a.m. HT on Saturday, November 27th on Spectrum Sports.

Thank you, seniors. RIP Scheyenne Sanitoa.