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Hawaii loses another heartbreaker in 17-13 loss to Colorado State

Hawaii’s strong first half was followed by a dud of a second half

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Colorado State Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football is not known for their success away from Oahu. Comes with the territory when considering the travel circumstance. It makes victories all the more sweat, and the defeats gut-wrenching. Especially the close losses. Hawaii was punched in the gut again on Saturday. Much like the late loss in San Diego, Hawaii conceded a late lead to Colorado State in what ended up being a 17-13 loss to Jay Norvell’s Rams. Let’s take a look how we got there.

Hawaii received the football to start the game for the fifth consecutive game. Hawaii’s drive started off with a 24-yard connection between quarterback Brayden Schager and wide receiver Dior Scott, and the Warriors moved quickly into Rams territory. The drive stalled in the red zone and resulted in a Matthew Shipley field goal.

On Colorado State’s first possession, quarterback Clay Millen returned to the lineup from injury. The former 4-star recruit that originally committed to Nevada had missed time, leaving the Rams in a dire position at quarterback. Running back Avery Morrow burst for a 67-yard gain to set up goal-to-go, but the Rams would fail to punch it in. A gutsy 4th-and-goal call failed; Hawaii afforded a huge let off. Still 3-0.

Hawaii punted on the ensuing drive stuck in their own territory, and the Rams capitalized on that drive with a field goal from kicker Michael Boyle, a former Hawaii Warrior. Wide receiver Tory Horton and running back Avery Morrow shouldered the offense for the Rams.

Brayden Schager has shown real improvement in recent weeks, and that continued in the first half. He finished 14-20 for 141 passing yards and one touchdown pass in the first half. That touchdown was thrown to tight end Caleb Phillips, but frankly Phillips appears to be a wide receiver in the offense at this point.

Clay Millen again marched the Colorado State offense into Hawaii territory, but another 4th-down attempt killed the drive. Jay Norvell was very aggressive all afternoon. Hawaii took over on downs, and marched 60-yards on 10-plays in only 1:26 to tack on some points before the break. Hawaii cut it close on the field goal sequence, but the Warriors led 13-3 at the break.

It was all frustration for Hawaii in the second half. Colorado State opened the second half with a methodical drive, Millen making good use of his tight ends. Once again in a goal-to-go situation, the Rams initially stalled. However, an off-side penalty on Hawaii kept the drive alive. On the second 4th-down attempt, Avery Morrow scored with ease. Rams cut into the Hawaii lead at 13-10.

Hawaii’s next drive went absolutely nowhere. Colorado State’s offense was humming, taking the ball deep into Hawaii territory again. A nightmare start to the second half for the Rainbow Warriors. Norvell continued to be aggressive and went for it on 4th-down instead of attempting to tie the game with a field goal. Hawaii stuffed them! A brief momentum shift.

Both offenses struggled for most of the 4th quarter. Brayden Schager cooled off from his fast start, and Hawaii’s defense continued their bend-but-don’t-break approach. With 3:41 remaining in regulation, Colorado State went for it on 4th-down again. A Millen strike to wide receiver Tory Horton kept the drive alive. The Rams were 3/6 on 4th-down attempts. Time was ticking away.

A few plays later, Avery Morrow scored a touchdown from 10-yards out. A gut-punch to the Warriors. With 1:28 remaining, Colorado State had their first lead of the game at 17-13. The Rams had 221 yards of offense in the second half to that point. Morrow had 147 rushing yards on 26 carries.

Hawaii’s offense needed to score a touchdown and had 75-yards of green grass in front of them. It was not to be. Hawaii moved the ball to the UH 39-yard line, and Schager threw an interception. A positive first half was followed up with a shutout on offense. Hawaii only had 38 yards of offense in the second half. The Rams adjusted, the Warriors did not. The master gets the best of the apprentice. Hawaii lost 17-13 at Sonny Lubick Stadium.

Hawaii falls to 2-5 (1-1) on the season. A late run to a bowl game is appearing unlikely. Hawaii will return to Clarence T.C. Ching Stadium to face Wyoming next Saturday on Spectrum Sports.