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Hawaii scores late to win football season opener

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Massachusetts’ Ali Ali-Musa, top, and Jerall Addo took down Hawaii’s Mykal Tolliver during the first quarter today in Amherst, Mass.

Down four with less than three minutes to play, Hawaii quarterback Dru Brown engineered a masterful drive as the Rainbow Warriors rallied for a 38-35 nonconference win today before a disappointed Massachusetts crowd of 12,145.

The Warriors scored the final 10 points of the game to secure a rare road win in football to return home to Aloha Stadium with a record of 1-0. It was the second time the Minutemen (0-1) allowed the Warriors to win late, having lost to Hawaii in their final game of the 2016 season.

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Facing third-and-goal from the 7, Brown hit a wide open Metuisela ‘Unga for the score to make it 38-35 with 48 seconds left. He completed 25 of 38 for 391 yards and three touchdowns. The defense held to secure the win, stopping a desperation pass with five seconds left.

FOURTH QUARTER — HAWAII 38, MASSACHUSETTS 35

Hawaii scored first in the fourth quarter to draw even at 28 on an acrobatic throw and catch from Brown to junior wideout Marcus Armstrong-Brown from 8 yards out. Alex Trifonovitch hit the PAT with 13:34 left in the game.

The three-play, 23-yard drive was set up on a muffed punt by UMass that was recovered by Ryan Tuiasoa. Hawaii scored 14 unanswered points to get back in it, but UMass has an explosive offense of its own and the Minutemen retook the lead on the ensuing offensive series.

A nice kickoff return gave them the ball at the UH 46, and five plays later on a critical fourth-and-1, Marquis Young went to the outside and took it in 21 yards for the touchdown. Michael Schreiner added the point-after to make it 35-28 with 11:41 left in the game.

Hawaii got a nice kickoff return of its own to set up shop at the Warriors 41. Converting a big fourth-and-1, the Warriors moved into UMass territory in search of a game-tying touchdown. Facing another fourth-down play, this time for 3 yards, Brown hit John Ursua for a huge play to give UH a first down at the UMass 15.

From there, it got tough and Hawaii had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Ryan Meskell to make it 35-31 with 5:23 left in the game.

THIRD QUARTER — MASSACHUSETTS 28, HAWAII 21

UMass got the ball to start the second half at its own 21 after the kickoff and picked up right where it left off in the first half. A big throw and catch from UMass quarterback Andrew Ford to tight end Adam Breneman of 41 yards and then a huge third-and-14 conversion from the same pair gave the Minutemen a first-and-10 at the UH 11.

Another 10-yard completion from Ford to Breneman made it first-and-goal at the 1. From there, Young scored and Schreiner added the extra point to give the Minutemen a 21-14 lead with 11:12 left in the period.

Hawaii started its first drive of the second half at its own 24, but a quick three-and-out put the Warriors defense on notice. The Minutemen started their second drive of the half at their own 35 with plenty of momentum on their side of the football.

A tired UH defense was no match for Ford and Co. on the ensuing drive as they steadily moved down the field with a nice mix of run and pass, going 65 yards on 12 plays. The final one was a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Malik Lee. Schreiner hit the PAT to make it 28-14 with 4:35 remaining.

The UH offense knew it had to do something on the next series, and three quick pass plays from Brown to three different receivers gave UH a first down at the UMass 15. Brown hit Unga on a big third-down throw to make it first-and-goal at the 2. Two plays later, Tuiasoa bulled in for the score. Alex Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 28-21 with 2:09 left in the quarter.

SECOND QUARTER — HAWAII 14, MASSACHUSETTS 14

Hawaii had an excellent chance to score early in the second quarter, but 40 yards in penalties killed that chance. Fortunately for the Warriors, the defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing series that led to a lousy Minutemen punt that gave UH the ball at the UMass 30.

Another bad penalty by the UH offensive line forced an ejection of right guard Chris Posa on a first-and-10 play that had UH knocking on the door for another touchdown. A holding call on the next play by Dejon Allen forced Hawaii back to the UMass 35. At this point, Hawaii had 80 yards in penalties. A late-hit penalty by the Minutemen on third-and-14 gave UH a first down at the UMass 25 in the penalty-plagued second quarter.

From there, Hawaii ran two plays inside to set up a third-and-5 from the 20. UH running back Diocemy Saint Juste made it fourth-and-1 on a 4-yard draw as the Warriors decided to go for it following a UMass timeout. The Warriors didn’t make it after UMass stuffed Tuiasoa at the line of scrimmage.

UMass changed quarterbacks on the ensuing series, bringing in Ross Comis for Ford. It worked, as Comis converted two key third downs to set up a first down at the UH 45. A chop-block penalty killed the drive, leading to a punt that was muffed, but recovered by UH at its own 17.

Two plays later, Brown found Ursua on a quick-strike touchdown of 85 yards as the sophomore outraced the Minutemen to the end zone to make it 14-7 with 1:57 left in the half after Trifonovitch added the PAT.

UMass put together a nifty last-minute drive before the half, getting to Hawaii territory as Ford returned to the game at quarterback. He led the Minutemen to a first-and-goal at the UH 7. Three plays later, Ford found Andy Isabella open in the end zone for the 5-yard score with two seconds left after Schreiner added the PAT to make it 14-14.

FIRST QUARTER — HAWAII 7, MASSACHUSETTS 7

Hawaii had a nice opening drive that stalled when UMass tackled Brown for a 7-yard loss on a fourth-and-4 play from the Minutemen’s 37. The UMass offense responded with an 8-yard run on its first play from scrimmage, but a pass from Ford that deflected off Isabella and into the arms of Soloman Matautia ended that.

Hawaii took over at its own 45 and needed only seven plays to score its opening touchdown of the season on a 29-yard scamper by Brown. Trifonovitch added the extra point to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 8:51 left in the first quarter. UMass responded with a good drive of its own, moving from its own 25 to the UH 6, setting up a first-and-goal touchdown run by Isabella. Schreiner added the PAT to tie the score at 7 with six minutes left in the first.

Brown threw an interception on the first snap of the ensuing drive, giving the Minutemen a first-and-10 from the UMass 40. The pick was a nice one by cornerback Isaiah Rodgers. Fortunately for Brown, the UH defense forced a punt.

PREGAME

It’s not often the University of Hawaii football team has a legitimate shot at winning its season-opening game on the road, but today’s nonconference meeting at the University of Massachusetts was an exception.

The two teams met in the final game of the 2016 regular season at Aloha Stadium, one Hawaii had to win to qualify for the postseason, and did in dramatic fashion, 46-40. Look for the hosting UMass squad to remember that stinging defeat in the early going of this return engagement that should be an entertaining football game.

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For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.

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