Hawai’i outlasted Nevada 31-16 for their first Mountain West win of the 2022 season — and it’s second win overall, moving to 2-5. Nevada, meanwhile, has now lost five straight, remains winless in conference play while dropping to 2-5.
Let’s jump into a few rapid reaction takeaways from the Saturday affair:
1. Hawai’i’s offense latest to find groove against Pack
Both offenses — who have been two of the worst in the Mountain West leading up to Saturday — scored on three of their four drives in the first half, combining for 34 points. But it was Hawai’i who found their footing against the Pack for 60 minutes.
It logged 398 yards of offense, 13 off tying their season high, with 17 first downs — notching X.X yards per play. Brayden Schager went 13-for-25 for 173 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Rainbow Warriors racked up 225 yards on the ground — 136 by Dedrick Parson with three rushing scores, while Tylan Hines had 70 yards.
The Wolf Pack’s run defense has been a problem for much of the season. It didn’t look any better Saturday.
2. Nevada’s running backs were arguably its best receivers
For better or worse, two of the Wolf Pack’s top receivers were their two running backs, Devonte Lee and Tua Taua. They combined for 10 catches for 90 yards. Taua led the team with six catches for 67 yards, 34 more yards than any other Pack player.
On the night, Nate Cox, who received all the reps, completed 22-of-37 passes for 188 yards without a touchdown or interception.
3. The Rainbow Warriors’ run defense steps up yet again
Over its opening five games against Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Michigan, Duquense and New Mexco, Hawai’i surrendered north of 260 yards per game on the ground. Over its last two games, that mark has been 92 yards per game.
The Rainbow Warriors held Nevada to 89 yards on the ground, 54 from Lee and Taua on a combined 3.9 yards per carry. Its most pivotal stop came on Nevada’s second drive after halftime. It drove 86 yards down the field on 11 plays to put itself on first-and-goal at the 2-yard-line. Hawai’i, up eight —21-13 — at the time, stonewalled the Pack on two rushes (both for zero yards) plus an incomplete pass to Dalevon Campbell.
Nevada kicked the field goal, cutting it to five, but it was a testament to how disruptive Hawai’i was in its rush defense that influenced Ken Wilson’s decision.
4. Nevada’s bowl chances all but eliminated
One of my takeaways last week after losing to Colorado State was that the Wolf Pack had a path — a slim one, but one nonetheless — to still compete for a bowl, even though many didn’t foresee one being made ahead of the year.
Now, the Wolf Pack will have to win four of their next five against San Diego State, San Jose State, Boise State, Fresno State and UNLV. Do you all believe in miracles?