Fresno State beats Hawaii 31-21
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Fresno State beats Hawaii 31-21

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste runs for yardage against Fresno State at Aloha Stadium on Saturday.

Fresno State held off a furious rally by Hawaii to secure a 31-21 Mountain West Conference victory tonight before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 13,714.

Two passes that were intercepted in the fourth quarter after they were tipped led to one touchdown that made the final score a little closer than the game indicated. Despite the picks, Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion had a solid night, throwing for 226 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was wideout KeeSean Johnson, who had 91 yards and two touchdowns among his six receptions.

Hawaii quarterback Dru Brown was not as effective, completing 18 of 31 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. UH running back Diocemy Saint Juste carried the football 22 times for 104 yards. Dylan Collie had six receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown. Hawaii dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-6 in league play. Fresno State continues to lead the West division with a 5-1 mark. The much-improved Bulldogs, who were 1-11 last season, are 7-3 overall.

FOURTH QUARTER: FRESNO STATE 31, HAWAII 21

Hawaii made things interesting with a pair of touchdowns not two minutes into the fourth quarter.

The first came on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Dylan Collie to culminate a nine-play, 75-yard drive that began in the third period. The try for 2 from Brown to Collie was good as UH cut the lead to 31-15 with 14:23 left in the game.

Hawaii added another touchdown on an interception by Solomon Matautia off a McMaryion pass that was tipped by David Manoa. He returned it 19 yards for the touchdown as the try for 2 failed to make it 31-21 with 13:09 left. Fresno State took the ball on its next series and moved steadily down the field trying to use some clock. After failing on a third-down play, the Bulldogs attempted a 54-yard field that sailed wide right, giving UH the ball at its own 37 with nine minutes left.

Hawaii did nothing with it, but later in the quarter the Warriors managed their second interception off a tipped pass that Eugene Ford returned to the Fresno State 45 with about four minutes left. Brown was intercepted in the end zone to end that drive with 2:14 left in the game.

THIRD QUARTER: FRESNO STATE 31, HAWAII 7

Hawaii got the ball first to start the second half and drove into Fresno State territory, but failed to convert a fourth-down play at the Fresno State 35. Brown had Collie open in the flat, but threw the pass behind him. The Bulldogs took over on downs and promptly moved into Hawaii territory. Facing a third-and-5, the Bulldogs converted on a 33-yard pass play from McMaryion to Johnson to set up a first-and-goal at the 9. Three plays later, McMaryion failed to hook up with Johnson in the end zone, which led to a 27-yard field goal by Jimmy Camacho with 5:02 left in the period with Fresno State leading comfortably 24-7.

Hawaii moved the ball out near midfield on its next possession, but Brown was sacked and lost the ball, with the Bulldogs recovering at the UH 49. At this point, Fresno State had scored 24 unanswered points and had forced Hawaii to punt the ball on five of nine drives.

Taking over at the 49, the Bulldogs moved easily down the field to set up a first-and-10 at the UH 17. Three plays later, McMaryion caught UH in a blitz and threw a nice bubble screen to Johnson, who took it in from 16 yards out for the score. It was his fourth touchdown pass of the game, with Johnson catching two. Camacho added the extra point to give Fresno State a 31-7 advantage with 1:38 left.

Hawaii took over at its own 25 and needed only a few plays to get into Fresno State territory with a first-and-10 at the Fresno State 22 as time ran out in the quarter.

SECOND QUARTER: FRESNO STATE 21, HAWAII 7

Fresno State began its first scoring drive of the game late in the opening quarter before capping it off with a 4-yard touchdown pass from McMaryion to Johnson. It was originally called incomplete, but was overturned on review. He had one foot in bounds for the score. Camacho hit the PAT to even the game at 7-7 with 11:45 left in the half. The 10-play drive was 62 yards for the Bulldogs.

Hawaii took over its first drive of the second quarter at its own 25 with the rain continuing to fall. UH went back to its run game with Saint Juste carrying the load. With about 10 minutes left, Saint Juste had nine rushes for 44 yards. After Brown picked up a first down on a keeper, the referee stepped in and said there was a weather delay because of lightning within 8 miles of the stadium. It was 7 p.m. with 10:19 left in the half.

The players came out at 7:30 p.m and were given 10 minutes to warm up. The weather delay ended at 7:41 p.m. with UH taking the field with a first-and-10 at its own 36. Three bad plays later, UH was forced to punt, with the Bulldogs taking over at their own 27.

The Bulldogs picked up a first down, but had to punt with UH taking over at its own 20 with about six minutes left in the half. Two rush plays by Saint Juste for 8 yards set up a big third down that UH failed to convert, missing by less than a yard on a Brown keeper. A bad punt gave Fresno the ball at its own 38.

The Bulldogs needed only two plays to move into UH territory with a first down at the UH 37. The Bulldogs continued to move the ball with ease, including a 25-yard touchdown strike from McMaryion to tight end Jared Rice. Camacho converted the extra point to give Fresno State its first lead of the game at 14-7 with 1:56 left in the half. The five-play drive went 62 yards.

After forcing a three-and-out, Fresno took over at its own 42 with 1:22 left after another poor punt. McMaryion quickly moved into UH territory with a 21-yard pass completion to the UH 37 with 1:05 left. Two plays later, the Fresno State quarterback dumped it off for a 13-yard completion to the UH 24 with 47 seconds left. On third down, he hit Johnson for 15 yards to the UH 9. Two snaps later, the Bulldogs went in from 3 yards out on a pass from McMaryion to tight end David Tangipa. Camacho hit the PAT to extend Fresno State’s lead to 21-7 with 19 seconds left in the period. The eight-play drive went 58 yards.

FIRST QUARTER: HAWAII 7, FRESNO STATE 0

Hawaii won a rare coin toss and elected to defer. Fresno State’s opening possession looked like it was on its way to be a scoring drive when a holding penalty in UH territory killed it for the Bulldogs, who were forced to punt after failing to convert a third-and 15. The Rainbow Warriors took over at their own 10-yard line.

UH has struggled early on in games, often going three-and-out multiple times before finally getting into a rhythm. For this night, two handoffs to Saint Juste got the Warriors 12 yards and a first down. And it didn’t end there, as UH moved the ball steadily downfield on a variety of runs before being forced to punt near midfield.

Fresno State’s second drive began at its own 10 as a steady mist fell on the field. McMaryion threw three incompletions, missing Johnson on a second-down throw that would have gone for at least 30 yards. After the punt, UH took over at its own 46 to begin its second drive of the game with about eight minutes left in a scoreless quarter.

The Warriors continued to call a steady diet of run plays for Saint Juste, before converting a third-and-3 with a 16-yard strike from Brown to Collie to the Fresno State 31. Running an uptempo offense, UH faced a third-and-5, but Brown was sacked for a 5-yard loss, setting up a fourth-and 10. Hawaii had converted only seven of 18 fourth downs coming in, but Brown found Kumoku Noa for an 11-yard completion for a first down at the 20.

Saint Juste broke off a 7-yard run to the 13 and then a 4-yarder for a first-and-goal at the 9. Two plays later, Brown found Noa on a similar route he ran for the first down, this time for a touchdown from 7 yards out. Alex Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 7-0 UH with 2:52 left in the quarter. The drive went 54 yards on 11 plays.

Fresno State began its third drive at its own 19, trying to find some of the rhythm it had on its opening series, but to no avail, as UH forced its second consecutive three-and-out. After a booming 56-yard punt, UH began its third series at its own 20 with about a minute remaining in the quarter. Three incomplete passes later, UH was forced to punt as Fresno State took over at its own 38.

PREGAME

This is pretty much it for the University of Hawaii football team on this rainy night at Aloha Stadium. With a lot of empty seats staring back at them, the Rainbow Warriors likely need to beat Fresno State to stay alive for the postseason.

The Bulldogs are in a battle to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference. With a 6-3 overall record and 4-1 mark in league play, they hold a one-game lead on San Diego State and the tiebreaker since they beat the Aztecs last month. The winner of the West Division faces the Mountain champ for the conference title in December.

As for Hawaii, the Warriors are 3-6 this season and likely need to win the final three games to break even and qualify for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. The Warriors could win any or all of these games, but they’d have to play mistake-free and hope the opposition doesn’t run the table.

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