It might be too early to entertain thoughts of another 0-12 season for the University of Hawaii football team, but if Saturday night’s 37-27 defeat to banged up San Jose State is any indication, condolences are in order for head coach Norm Chow.
The Rainbow Warriors were giddy with excitement after taking a 14-3 lead deep into the first quarter, but that disappeared quickly as the Spartans reeled off 31 unanswered points to put the Mountain West Conference meeting out of reach. San Jose State quarterback David Fales did a nice job of mixing run with pass as he threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns to engineer the win.
It raised the Spartans record to 2-3 for the season and 1-1 in MWC play. Hawaii dropped to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in conference action entering next week’s road game with Nevada-Las Vegas.
The UH defense wasn’t good as it yielded a half-dozen plays of 16 yards or more in the first half as the Spartans had 534 yards of total offense. Hawaii countered with 473 as starting UH quarterback Sean Schroeder completed 28 of 50 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three costly picks.
Coming in, this is one football game most folks figured the home team had a shot at winning, but it didn’t work out that way.
After scoring 24 unanswered points to close out the first half, the Spartans had the opening touchdown of the second on a grueling 10-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Fales to Tyler Winston. Austin Lopez hit the PAT to make it 34-14 with 3:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Hawaii finally stopped the bleeding with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Schroeder to Billy Ray Stutzmann as Tyler Hadden added the PAT to make it 34-21 Spartans with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.
San Jose State threatened again early in the fourth, but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Lopez to build the Spartans advantage to 37-21 with 12:21 remaining in the game.
After Lopez hit the left upright on a 24-yard field-goal attempt that would have ended things, Hawaii went 80 yards for a touchdown as Schroeder hit Chris Gant from 50 yards out. The try for 2 failed as Hawaii trailed 37-27 with 7:51 remaining. The Rainbow Warriors would get no closer.
The Spartans had a complete game, despite four of their best players not even making the trip. Winston had six catches for 159 yards and one score. Running back Tim Crawley rushed 21 times for 93 yards as the Spartans produced a balanced attack.
Up 27-14 at the intermission, the Spartans took the opening kickoff of the game and marched easily into Hawaii territory, before stalling at the UH 27. It set up a 44-yard field goal by Lopez. He made the kick with 13:34 remaining in the opening quarter as the Spartans led 3-0.
Hawaii needed a few series to find its legs with Schroeder as the man under center. The Rainbow Warriors finally put a drive together as Schroeder found Scott Harding for a 42-yard completion. Harding made a nice catch on the play that gave UH the ball at the Spartans 41.
Running back Steven Lakalaka, who finished with 77 yards on 16 carries, then ripped off a 29-yard run to give UH a first and 10 at the 12. Three plays later, Gant scored on a reverse from 9 yards out and Hadden added the PAT to give UH the 7-3 lead with 5:53 left in the first.
Hawaii came right back and scored on its next drive after the defense forced the Spartans to punt. UH quarterback Ikaika Woolsey promptly hit Vasquez Haynes on a nice 44-yard strike that set up an 8-yard scoring pass from Schroeder to Haynes as Hadden made the PAT to give UH a 14-3 lead with 3:18 remaining in the first.
But it was all San Jose State from that point.
They marched 75 yards on five plays for their first touchdown of the game. It was a 61-yard bomb from Fales to Chandler Jones, who went in untouched for his 19th career score; a Spartans record. Lopez hit the PAT to cut UH’s advantage to 14-10 with 1:38 left in the opening quarter.
After forcing UH to punt, the Spartans needed only three plays to go 78 yards to regain the lead 17-14 with 13:36 remaining in the half. Fales had a 40-yard completion to a wide open Winston and then a 35-yard strike to Billy Freeman for the touchdown as Lopez added the PAT.
Lopez came back on the next series and barely made a career-long 51-yard field goal as the football hit the crossbar and bounced through to make it 20-14 San Jose State with 10:25 left in the second quarter.
The Spartans continued to pour it on with a 39-yard touchdown run by Jarrod Lawson as Freeman threw a beautiful block to allow Lawson to go in untouched. Lopez added the PAT to make it 27-14 San Jose State with 1:39 remaining in the half as Lawson rushed for 89 yards in the game.