A lot was made of Hawaii’s difficult flight path for Saturday’s Mountain West Conference football game with Utah State in the rarefied air of Logan, but Rainbow Warriors head coach Norm Chow refused to offer it as an excuse.
Arriving only a half-day ahead of kickoff due to the shooting tragedy at LAX on Friday, the Warriors appeared a step slow all day as the Aggies won 47-10 at Romney Stadium.
The victory left Utah State 4-1 in MWC play and 5-4 for the season. Hawaii dropped to 0-8 overall and 0-6 in MWC play. It was the 11th consecutive road loss for the Warriors, who will remain in Salt Lake City, before moving on to Maryland and a nonconference date with Navy.
Down by 20 at intermission, Hawaii took the opening kickoff in the third quarter and drove 75 yards on six plays, including a 33-yard scoring strike from UH quarterback Sean Schroeder to wideout Keith Kirkwood as Tyler Hadden added the PAT to cut Utah State’s margin to 13 with 13:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Now, it was the Aggies’ turn and they didn’t disappoint. Holding a 12-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, Utah State didn’t sway far from the game plan, moving 51 yards on eight plays, before settling for a 32-yard field goal by Nick Diaz, his third of the day to give the Aggies a 16-point advantage with 9:51 left in the third quarter.
The Aggies put the game out of reach on a five-play, 71-yard scoring drive that ended on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Utah State true freshman quarterback Dare Garretson to Travi Reynolds as Diaz added the PAT to make it 33-10 with 6:20 remaining in the third.
Hawaii tried to put a positive spin on things with a beautiful interception by Tavita Woodard off a screen pass and returned it to the Utah State 4. Garretson made a huge touchdown-saving tackle because three plays later, Schroeder threw a pick-six to Kyler Fackrell, who returned it 99 yards for a touchdown as Diaz added the PAT to make it 40-10 with 1:41 remaining in the third.
It was more of the same in the fourth as Utah State drove 73 yards on seven plays for the touchdown as Garretson found tight end Wyatt Houston for the final 44. Diaz hit the PAT to make it 47-10 Utah State with 10:29 remaining in the game.
Utah State dominated from the start as the Aggies took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards on 12 plays — that included the ejection of UH safety Marrell Jackson for targeting — the last one an 11-yard touchdown pass from Garretson to wideout Bruce Natson with 9:43 remaining in the first quarter. Diaz added the PAT.
Hawaii responded with a nice 10-play, 58-yard drive of its own that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Hadden with 6:55 left in the first quarter to cut the margin to 7-3. Schroeder was 3-for-5 for 50 yards, including a 35-yarder to Donnie King.
Utah State countered with a field goal of its own on its next offensive series, a 40-yarder by Diaz that extended the Aggies advantage to 10-3 with 5:09 left in the first.
The Aggies moved 14 points ahead on a tough 10-play, 88-yard drive that included two huge third-down conversions and ended on a 4-yard scoring run by running back Joey DeMartino. Diaz added the PAT to make it 17-3 with 14:27 left in the second quarter.
Hawaii moved into scoring territory on a 41-yard pass play from Schroeder to favorite target Chris Gant, but on a third-down play at the Aggies 30, Schroeder was picked off, giving the Aggies the ball at their own 6.
Later in the quarter, Hawaii tried a punt fake on a fourth-and-2, but upback Marc Langkilde came up a yard short, giving Utah State the ball at the Hawaii 44. Once again, a big third-down conversion kept the drive alive and aided the penalty-plagued Aggies as they extended their lead to 20-3 on a 32-yard-field goal by Diaz with 3:28 remaining in the half.
Utah State added three more on a 52-yard field goal by hometown boy Jake Thompson to give Utah State a 23-3 advantage with 50 seconds remaining in the half dominated by the Aggies.
For the game, DeMartino gained 104 yards on 20 carries, offsetting a nice first-half performance by Rainbow Warriors freshman running back Diocemy Saint Juste. He carried the ball six times for 48 yards, giving UH a legitimate running threat on the edge if he can remain healthy. He had only one attempt in the second half
Schroeder, who was lifted in the third, completed 13 of 26 for 213 yards and one score, but was picked three times, including one on the last play of the half that almost resulted in another score for the Aggies.
Garretson set a freshman record at Utah State, completing 28 of 41 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns. He had the one pick. Reynolds was his favorite target, catching 15 passes for 152 yards. Natson had seven for 34.
UH wideouts Gant and Billy Ray Stutzmann were held in check. Gant had two catches for 48 yards. Stutzmann countered with two for 31. His streak of games scoring at least one touchdown came to an end. Backup quarterback Taylor Graham came in for Schroeder in the third, but wasn’t effective, completing eight of 16 for 45 yards.
He was knocked out of the game late in the fourth and appeared he might have taken a shot on his recently healed left shoulder. The UH offense produced 319 yards. Utah State countered with 533.