In a game between two football teams not that accustomed to winning this season Hawaii hoped a victory tonight to close out 2015 would be a building block for the new regime.
And that’s exactly what happened as the Rainbow Warriors held on for a 28-26 victory over Louisiana-Monroe before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 15,001.
The nonconference victory snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Warriors as they finish the 2015 campaign with a 3-10 record. The ULM Warhawks dropped to 1-11 for the season and will be playing with a new head football coach in 2016 as well.
Hawaii built an 11-point halftime lead over the opening 30 minutes and got the football first to start the second half. A costly penalty by Louisiana-Monroe on third down kept the drive alive and the Warriors capitalized on it, going 77 yards on nine plays to score.
UH quarterback Ikaika Woolsey scored from 6 yards out as Aaron Novoa added the PAT to make it 28-10 Hawaii with 11:34 left in the third quarter. Novoa is in for Rigo Sanchez, who missed the game because his grandmother died.
The Warhawks countered with a scoring drive of their own, setting for a 25-yard field goal by Chris Ford with 6:56 left in the third quarter. It was his second three-pointer of the game. ULM had a first-and-goal at the 7 before the drive stalled.
Such was not the case on the next series as the Warhawks took it to the house on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Earnest Carrington to a wide open Ajelen Holly in the corner of the end zone. Ford knocked through the PAT to make it 28-20 Hawaii with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
ULM cut it to 28-26 on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Lorenzo Jackson. The try for 2 failed with 3:03 remaining in the game. The scoring play was set up on a mishandled snap by Woolsey that went into the end zone and was recovered by the Warhawks.
It was equally back and forth in the first half.
After forcing Hawaii to punt on its first offensive series, a muffed return gave the home team the ball at midfield. Six rushing plays later by Paul Harris, the Warriors scored on his 12-yard run as Novoa added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 8:52 left in the first quarter. On the drive, Harris became the first running back for the Warriors to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing since Alex Green in 2010.
The Warhawks came back with a scoring drive of their own before it stalled at the Hawaii 12, setting up a 30-yard field goal by Ford to trim UH’s lead to 7-3 with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Hawaii countered with a score of its own on an 8-yard touchdown run by Woolsey with 6:04 left in the second quarter. Navoa added the PAT to make it 14-3 Hawaii.
The Warriors extended the margin to 21-3 with 2:12 left in the half on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Woolsey to Harold Moleni as Navoa added he PAT.
The Warhawks came back with a touchdown of their own on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Carrington to wideout Xavier Brown as Ford made the PAT to cut the lead to 21-10 with 24 seconds left in the half.