There’s little doubt after Hawaii’s 58-7 loss in tonight’s football game against the Air Force Academy in front of an Aloha Stadium crowd of 15,118 that Norm Chow’s days are numbered.
The Rainbow Warriors head coach had to run the table in order to keep his job, but his team just wasn’t up to the task. They avoided being shut out for the fourth time this season thanks to a 98-yard kickoff return by Keelan Ewaliko en route to dropping to 2-7 overall and 0-5 in the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons of Air Force are 5-3 for the season and 4-1 in league play.
Chow will learn his fate from UH athletic director Dave Matlin as early as Sunday. Considering this was the most lopsided conference loss for UH at Aloha Stadium in school history, no one should be surprised if it is Chow’s last game. If it is, he would finish 10-36 at UH and in his only stint as a head coach at the collegiate level.
Air Force rushed for 496 yards while holding Hawaii to minus-2. Hawaii had only 178 yards, while Air Force produced 576. Falcons tailback Jacobi Owens managed 137 yards on the ground and two touchdowns to pace the dominant Air Force attack that had the ball for 45 minutes, 4 seconds.
Air Force built such a commanding lead in the first half, there was little the Falcons needed to do in the second to maintain their comfortable advantage. Place-kicker Luke Strebel hit a 44-yard field goal with 4:51 left in the third for the only scoring in the period.
The Falcons added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Aubrey Duty-Tyson that culminated a 12-play, 42-yard drive that took 7:22 off the clock. Air Force took over at the UH 42 after the Warriors failed on fourth down and drove slowly down the field to build a 44-0 advantage with 11:53 left in the game.
Air Force managed another touchdown on a 5-yard run by Timothy McVey. Strebel added the PAT and then McVey scored again on a 39-yard scamper to make it 58-7 with 5:43 left in the game.
It was more of the same in the first half. After forcing Hawaii to punt on its first possession of the game, Air Force marched methodically down the field, going 90 yards on 15 plays and taking 6:22 off the clock along the way. The last play was a 2-yard scoring run by Owens, with Strebel adding the PAT to give Air Force a touchdown advantage with 6:50 left in the opening quarter.
The Falcons extended that lead to 14-0 on an 11-yard run by Owens that completed a four-play, 60-yard drive that was highlighted by a 33-yard scamper by quarterback Karson Roberts. Strebel added the PAT with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
Hawaii thought it had a first-and-goal at the 5 early in the second quarter after an apparent fumble on the punt return by Air Force’s Garrett Brown. But review showed Brown’s knee had touched the ground and Air Force took over at its own 11.
The Warriors defense held, but the offense fumbled on the ensuing series, giving Air Force the ball at the UH 35. From there, the Falcons needed only six plays to score, the last one a 1-yard sneak by Roberts. Strebel hit the PAT to make it 21-0 Air Force with 9:07 left in the half.
A pass interception of Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek gave Air Force the ball at the UH 41 on the ensuing series. It led to a 40-yard field goal by Strebel to give Air Force a 24-0 advantage with 6:56 left in the half.
Air Force added another score just before the half, set up on a 61-yard completion from Roberts to Brown that gave the Falcons first-and-goal at the 9. Three plays later, Benton Washington scored from the 1 and Strebel knocked through the PAT to make it 31-0 with 1:03 left in the half.
Strebel hit another field goal as time expired, this one from 36 yards out, set up on another Wittek pick. He threw two in the first half. Wittek finished the night hitting 10 of 26 for 123 yards.