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Hawaii reclaims Paniolo Trophy in 38-14 win over Wyoming

As 12-point underdogs, Todd Graham’s Warriors saved their best for last

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

Hawaii’s much-maligned offense has been the primary topic among Hawaii fans and media this fall, and deservedly so. Viewers are unaccustomed to seeing a consistently struggling Hawaii offense.

Hawaii offensive coordinator Bo Graham moved to the press box for the Colorado State game, after having spent the season on the sideline, and since then the offense has surprisingly taken off. 50 points against Colorado State, and shockingly 38 points scored against Wyoming’s vaunted defense in Laramie. Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro threw for 323 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Cordeiro also rushed for 86 yards and added a rushing touchdown. Total dominance, easily the best performance any quarterback has had against Wyoming all season.

Impressing in the trenches, showing creativity offensively, and even completing a Hail Mary, the Warriors beat Wyoming 38-14 in Laramie on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors reclaim the Paniolo Trophy and get their first win in Laramie since 1991. Here are some of the highlights:

Hawaii started off the game with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that finished with a Chevan Cordeiro touchdown run. Cordeiro’s scrambling ability plagued the Pokes all afternoon.

On Wyoming’s first drive, the Pokes pushed the ball into Hawaii territory, but kicker John Hoyland missed a 53-yard field goal attempt. Hawaii took advantage of quality field position, marching down the field to add another touchdown, this time courtesy of Calvin Turner Jr. On paper, Wyoming appeared to have a weakness in rushing defense, and Hawaii exploited it. After one quarter, Hawaii shockingly led the nearly two touchdown favorite Pokes by a score of 14-0. It was the first time all season that Hawaii blanked opposition in the first quarter.

Hawaii largely dominated the second quarter as well. Chevan Cordeiro was amazing. Wyoming came into the game with the 4th-ranked passing defense nationally. 4th out of 130 teams! There was little reason to believe the Warriors would carve up for the Cowboys, but Cordeiro did exactly that. In the early second quarter, Steven Fiso collected his first career catch and touchdown to make the score 21-0. A completely shocked War Memorial Stadium was witnessing the Cowboys being blown out on Senior Day.

Hawaii added a field goal later in the quarter to make the score 24-0. Finally, Wyoming had enough of the Warriors’ dominance. An 11-play, 75-yard drive was capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Wyoming running back Titus Swen to make the score 24-7. A slight bummer, Wyoming appeared to regain a glimmer of hope entering the locker room for halftime.

...or so we thought.

The highlight of the 2021 season for Hawaii football: Chevan Cordeiro’s Hail Mary to Jared Smart for a touchdown. Wow. wow. wow.

Hawaii led an astounding 31-7 at the break. The second half was largely a standoff by the two teams. Hawaii was bleeding clock, knowing very well that Wyoming did not have the offense to stage a complete comeback. Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams found emerging star wide receiver Isaiah Neyor for a 30-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 31-14 with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Spectrum Sports’ Kanoa Leahey and Rich Miano noted Hawaii’s experience this year with allowing comebacks. Both Portland State and Colorado State rallied back against Hawaii after the contests appeared over, but Hawaii learned their lesson this time around. Wyoming failed to score again, and Steven Fiso caught his second touchdown of the evening to cap off a beat down. Two career catches, two touchdowns!

One of the most random, unexpected results of the season, Hawaii blasted the Wyoming Cowboys 38-14 and reclaimed the Paniolo Trophy

There is potential for Hawaii’s 2021 season to still be alive. It will require some losses for 5-6 teams across the country, but Hawaii could sneak into the Hawaii Bowl at 6-7. It’s complicated, the Mountain West has an astounding seven bowl eligible teams, not counting Hawaii. Hawaii fans will have to wait until December 5th to learn their bowl fate.

If this is it, what a conclusion to the season for Hawaii. Bittersweet, this performance will leave some feeling like there weas meat left on the 2021 bone, but regardless the Warriors end the season on a high note.

Stay tuned. If this was indeed Hawaii’s final game, mahalo to my readers. Have a Happy Holidays.