There would be no plundering on this island for these Buccaneers.
Hawaii’s defense emphatically fended off Charleston Southern’s raids on the Aloha Stadium turf last night in a much-needed 66-7 win over the Big South Conference visitors of the FCS.
The Warriors stifled the Buccaneers on third downs to the tune of a 2-for-17 conversion rate, and though the outcome was without doubt by halftime, UH had some inspiring stops even after the break.
The UH defense took its lumps against USC and in the second halves against Army and Colorado. But last night, multiple players contributed to allowing the second-lowest opponent total in Greg McMackin’s three years as head coach.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda could pause and enjoy the moment after his team shut out an opponent in the second half for the first time this year.
"We’ve had great practices, all the way back to spring. All the way back to fall camp," said Aranda, who pointed to himself for defensive letdowns in the first three games. "We’ve always created turnovers, always gotten sacks, always tackled well. That hasn’t shown up in the games, until today. So my hope is, this is the start of how we play."
UH held the Buccaneers without a big offensive play and just 227 yards of total offense. They had exceeded 375 yards in each of their first three games of the season.
After a James Nunley 11-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Toscano late in the first quarter, CSU would not score again.
"We really didn’t take these guys lightly," junior tackle Vaughn Meatoga said. "They scored in the beginning of the game, but other than that, this whole week, we (the defense) were tired of being that whipping boy, tired of being the group that everybody picks on. The focus, the weak spot.
"We stood up, we took a stand and said that we need this game going into WAC play. Build that confidence, see what we can do."
The Warriors collected their first interception of the season when Jeramy Bryant picked off Toscano in the first quarter. Po’okela Ahmad would add another in the fourth quarter as UH forced three turnovers and had several chances at more.
It wasn’t just that the home team kept stopping CSU; it was the way it did it. The Bucs were denied on two fourth-and-inches situations in the first half. The first time, nickel back Richard Torres ripped the ball out of the hands of receiver Josh Atkinson. The second time, several Warriors piled on CSU running back Savon Seward, setting up UH’s final score of the half to make it 49-7 at the break.
Freshman John Hardy-Tuliau snuffed the Bucs’ best scoring chance of the second half when he got in the lane of an option pitch in UH territory. He collected the loose ball himself for his second straight game with a forced fumble.
Junior linebacker Corey Paredes, who entered the game second nationally in tackles at 13.0 per game, posted a team-high 14.