After a week off to gather their thoughts, the winless University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors returned to Aloha Stadium Saturday night with a belief the second half of the season would produce better results.
But for those 25,755 attending the Mountain West Conference football game against Colorado State, it was more of the same.
Wasted opportunities early on allowed the Rams to build a big advantage they held onto in the second half as UH quarterback Taylor Graham’s desperation pass in the end zone fell incomplete as the Rams held on to win 35-28.
Both teams combined for 52 points in an action-packed first half, but neither team scored in the second until UH quarterback Sean Schroeder kept it from 2 yards out and then hit Chris Gant for the 2-point conversion to cut the Rams lead to 35-25 with 6:43 remaining in the game.
After forcing a quick punt, Hawaii marched 53 yards on nine plays before settling for a 20-yard field goal by Tyler Hadden to draw within seven with 2:54 left. Hawaii held Colorado State on the ensuing offensive series and took over at its own 35 with 1:25 remaining and no timeouts.
The Warriors advanced it to the Rams 45 with 10 seconds to go, but could get no closer. Graham’s long ball landed in a crowd of players, but was deflected and fell harmlessly to the turf as the gun sounded. The loss dropped Hawaii to 0-7 for the season and 0-5 in MWC action. The Rams are now 4-4 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Colorado State scored first after UH squandered an early opportunity. It was a quick touchdown drive that was set up on an interception in the end zone by Colorado State cornerback DeAndre Elliot.
The Rams went 80 yards on two plays, including a 70-yard run by Donnell Alexander that set up a first and goal. The long run was aided by a face-mask penalty. Kapri Bibbs went the final 5 yards and Jared Roberts added the PAT to make it 7-0 Colorado State with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Rams came back with another quick score on another turnover by Schroeder. Dropping back for a pass, Colorado State linebacker Cory James came hard off the edge to knock the ball loose from Schroeder, who also threw the interception in the end zone. It was scooped up and returned 73 yards for a touchdown by fellow linebacker Max Morgan as Roberts added the PAT to make it 14-0 with 7:09 remaining in the first.
Hawaii finally got on the board as Schroeder led the Warriors on a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive of their own. The final snap was a 38-yard scoring strike from Schroeder to favorite target Gant as Hadden added the PAT to make it 14-7 with 5:26 remaining in the first.
Colorado State responded with a nice drive of its own, going 66 yards in 10 plays to make it 21-7 with 14:11 remaining in the half. Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson found Jordon Vaden from 20 yards out for the score as Roberts added the PAT.
Back came Hawaii as the Warriors went 76 yards on five plays to cut the margin to 21-14 on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Schroeder to Billy Ray Stutzmann, his fourth consecutive game to score. Hadden added the PAT with 12:40 left in the half.
The Rams scored again on a 61-yard, seven-play drive punctuated by an 11-yard touchdown run by Bibbs. Roberts hit the PAT to make it 28-14 with 6:44 remaining in the half.
The Warriors added a field goal of 39 yards by Hadden to make it 28-17 Rams with 4:11 remaining in the half. Hawaii had a first and goal at the 9, but a bad snap from center moved UH back to the 21 and the Warriors could get no closer.
Colorado State wasted little time scoring again, this time going 70 yards on only four plays with Bibbs scoring his third touchdown of the game from 13 yards out as Roberts made the PAT to make it 35-17 with 2:49 left in the half.
Schroeder hit 28 of 49 passes for 349 yards and two scores. Bibbs rushed for 137 yards on 33 carries for the Rams. Grayson hit 15 of 26 for 177 yards and one score. Hawaii had more total yards with 418, but the miscues, including a missed 42-yard field goal by Hadden in the third quarter, were the difference.