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Slow start dooms Warriors in 45-27 loss to Oregon State

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and the offense performed well, but it wasn’t enough on a Saturday evening in Corvallis

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

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football is accustomed to being the final football game on college football Saturday. That was the case once again on Saturday, but instead of playing on Oahu, the Warriors were the road team in Corvallis, Oregon for an 8 p.m. kickoff at Reser Stadium. Unfortunately, the Warriors were unable to conjure up late night football magic. Or, at least not until the game was out of reach.

It’s becoming a bad habit: slow starts for the Warriors. It happened in Pasadena, and struck once again in Corvallis. Oregon State’s offense moved at will in the first half, while the Warriors could not build sustained drives in the first quarter. The Beavers scored on three consecutive drives to open a 21-0 lead on the Warriors at the conclusion of the first quarter. Oregon State running back B.J. Baylor busted out a highlight reel 66-yard run in that mix, while quarterback Chance Nolan didn’t throw an incomplete pass until the late second quarter.

Hawaii’s offense would eventually settle down, but it’s hard to compete for victories when the defense spots the opposition a 21-point first quarter lead. This is a growing concern for a Hawaii defense that entered the season with high expectations, but has been gashed through three games. Hawaii conceded 558 total yards, 302 through the air and 256 on the ground.

In the early second quarter, Calvin Turner Jr. did what he does: score. The Warriors didn’t necessarily abandon the run game Saturday evening, but offensive coordinator Bo Graham showed some flexibility by favoring the passing game, to solid results. Turner Jr’s touchdown closed the gap to 21-7. The Beavers tacked on a field goal before halftime to make it 24-7 at the break. Hawaii settled down in the second quarter, but again the 21-0 hole killed the competitiveness of the game, at least on the scoreboard.

Hawaii trailed 24-7 going into the third quarter, but received the ball to open the half. Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro turned in a solid performance at Reser Stadium, both passing and scrambling, but on the first play of the third quarter threw an interception. On the next play, the Beavers’ B.J. Baylor scored again on a 30-yard touchdown run. Comeback attempt: dead before it had a chance to materialize.

Down 31-7, Hawaii snapped into action. A 9-play, 90-yard drive resulting in a 1-yard Calvin Turner Jr. touchdown was made possible by a tremendous pitch and catch from Cordeiro to wide receiver Nick Mardner. Mardner was fantastic Saturday evening, finishing with 6 catches, 110 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Mardner’s touchdown would occur on Hawaii’s next offensive drive, closing the gap to 31-20 Beavers at the end of the third quarter. For all the disaster the Warriors experienced, it was still an 11-point game with a quarter to play.

It was a night of what if’s, and of course what followed in the fourth quarter was no different. Oregon State’s offense received a huge boost on the next drive. On a 2nd-and-20 from the Oregon State 13-yard line, Chance Nolan scrambled forward and was absolutely blasted by Hawaii’s Darius Muasau. Illegally. Muasau was ejected for the hit and will miss the first half of next week’s the San Jose State game. Huge loss for part of next week, and a back-breaking moment in the Oregon State game. That sequence put the Beavers close to midfield, and 2-and-20 backed up in their own territory suddenly turned into the Beavers marching to score again. A 20-yard toss from Nolan to Teagan Quitoriano gave the Beavers a 38-20, and that was essentially that.

On the following drive, Calvin Turner Jr. tacked on another touchdown, his third of the evening. Turner Jr. had 191 total yards on the evening. Hawaii’s offense finished with 454 total yards and eased some of the concerns about the offense and its play-caller.

Unfortunately, this score wasn’t the spark of a late comeback, as the Hawaii defense folded on the following drive. A 15-play, 90-yard drive that ended on yet another B.J. Baylor touchdown run slammed the door shut. Oregon State beat Hawaii 45-27 on an evening where the Warriors offense showed promise, but the defense added more concern.

Can the Warriors parlay some of the positives from Saturday into a big performance in a pivotal game next week? Next Saturday, Hawaii will host San Jose State at Clarence T.C. Ching Complex at 12:30 a.m. ET (you read that correctly) for a nationally-televised contest on FS1.