The University of Hawaii football team dropped its fourth consecutive game tonight at Mackay Stadium, as the Nevada Wolf Pack rallied for a 35-21 Mountain West Conference victory. It was the first win of the year for the Wolf Pack, who raised their overall record to 1-5 and league mark to 1-1. Hawaii fell to 2-4 and 0-3.
Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi completed 25 of 32 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns and backup running back Kelton Moore had 216 yards on 19 carries and caught five passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Wyatt Demps hauled in two touchdown passes as the Wolf Pack racked up 566 yards of offense against a beleaguered UH defense.
UH quarterback Dru Brown had two turnovers. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 229 yards and two scores, but also threw an interception and lost a fumble on a sack. UH running back Diocemy Saint Juste had a stellar game, rushing for 241 yards on 25 carries and one score. Hawaii had 477 yards of total offense, but too many mistakes and penalties led to the loss.
FOURTH QUARTER NEVADA 35, HAWAII 21
After Hawaii managed a rare interception, Brown eventually gave it back after he was sacked and lost the ball. Nevada took over at the UH 37 and needed only three plays to score, as Gangi found Demps from 32 yards out for the touchdown. Spencer Pettit hit the PAT to extend Nevada’s lead to 35-21 with 11:16 left in the game. It was Demps’ second touchdown of the game.
Another penalty by the offensive line killed Hawaii’s drive on the ensuing kickoff and forced a punt, with the Wolf Pack taking over at their own 47, the game in hand.
Hawaii got the ball back at its own 1 with six minutes left and steadily moved the ball down the field as Saint Juste and Brown pulled out all the stops on the run and the pass. Hawaii eventually faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1, but Dylan Collie dropped a touchdown pass as he hit the turf.
THIRD QUARTER: NEVADA 28, HAWAII 21
Nevada got the ball first to start the second half and Hawaii helped the Wolf Pack right away with a holding penalty by Trayvon Henderson on a third-down pass completion that had failed to pick up the first.
From there, the Wolf Pack went right back to making big plays against an overmatched defense as they moved into Hawaii territory with a first down at the 41. Three snaps later, facing fourth-and-1 at the 32, the Wolf Pack made it by inches after UH missed a sure tackle for loss. That led to an eventual 42-yard field-goal try by Pettit that was blocked to give UH the ball for the first time in the second half at its own 25.
Hawaii needed only two plays to hit midfield and three more to punt, with a big sack killing the drive. Nevada began its second series of the half at its own 5 after a holding penalty on the punt return pushed the ball back. Nevada moved it out of the shadow of its own goal posts on a series of run plays.
An apparent lost fumble by Nevada was overturned on review, setting up a third-and-3 at the Wolf Pack 35. UH held, forcing a punt, with the Warriors taking over at their own 28.
Brown threw an interception on the first snap of the second series of the half. It was a bad throw under pressure that was easily picked off by Vosean Crumble at the UH 41. Facing fourth-and-7 at the UH 22, the Warriors brought the house, but Gangi spun out of the rush and found a wide-open Moore, who raced in for the score. Pettit hit the PAT to make it 28-14 Nevada with 1:56 left in the third.
Moore came off the bench for an injured player. At the end of the third quarter he had 194 yards on 13 carries. He also had caught four passes for 42 yards and a score to spur the Nevada offense.
Saint Juste has a similar role for Hawaii and showed it after the Warriors took over at their own 25. He burst through a hole up the middle and raced into the end zone for the score. Alex Trifonovitch added the PAT to cut the lead to 28-21 with 1:45 left in the period. At this point in the game, Saint Juste had 174 yards on 17 carries.
SECOND QUARTER: NEVADA 21, HAWAII 14
Hawaii put together another nice drive at the end of the first quarter that carried over into the second but failed to convert a third-and-10 call, leading to the Rainbow Warriors’ second punt of the game, which pushed the Wolf Pack back to their own 1.
One pass play later from Gangi to Demps of 31 yards and then another for 21 had the Wolf Pack at the UH 47 in a hurry. Gangi hit two more pass plays to give Nevada a first down at the UH 25. Gangi began the game 10-for-10 for 119 yards and a touchdown before throwing an incompletion. It set up a fourth-and-1 for the Wolf Pack from their own 15.
At first, they were going for it, but then called timeout and opted for a 32-yard field-goal try by Spencer Pettit. But the snap was botched and a desperation pass by holder Quinton Conoway fell incomplete.
From there, the Warriors quickly moved downfield with a 32-yard pass play from Brown to favorite target John Ursua, who at this point had six catches for 92 yards and a score. Hawaii eventually faced a fourth-and-2 from the Nevada 44. Ryan Tuiasoa picked up the first down with a hard 3-yard run.
Two snaps later, Brown found freshman tight end Kade Greeley breaking alone up the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown. Trifonovitch barely converted the PAT to give UH a 14-7 lead with 3:55 left in the half. That lead was short-lived after Kelton Moore broke off his second big run of the game, this one for 43 yards to the UH 33. Three snaps later, Gangi ran in for the score from 17 yards out. Pettit added the PAT to make it 14-14 with 2:32 left.
Four huge penalties by the UH offensive line not only nullified an apparent 84-yard touchdown run by Saint Juste, it also gave Nevada the ball back with plenty of time to get another score. UH helped with a targeting penalty by freshman Penei Pavihi on the punt return, giving Nevada the ball at its own 49. He was kicked out of the game and seen giving the shaka sign after being disqualified.
Hawaii had five major penalties called on six plays and it resulted in another Nevada score. Gangi quickly moved the offense down the field to the UH 6, setting up a first-and-goal with 25 seconds remaining. A pass interference by Eugene Ford gave Nevada the ball at the 2 with 21 seconds left. Ford was beat on the next play as Gangi found Demps for the score to make it 21-14 Nevada as Pettit made the PAT with 18 seconds left.
FIRST QUARTER: HAWAII 7, NEVADA 7
Hawaii won the toss and took the ball first. The Warriors have struggled getting off to good starts, but they did pick up a first down on the opening series, something they failed to do in last week’s lopsided loss to Colorado State.
Brown got the Warriors into Nevada territory on a keeper and then handed it off to Saint Juste, who broke off a first-down run to the Nevada 39. But as often happens with UH, the offense got behind the chains on the next set of downs and was forced to punt.
Nevada took over at its own 11 and quickly escaped the shadow of its own goal line on a third-down pass play that got the Wolf Pack to their own 39. But the drive stalled and Nevada was forced to punt.
Hawaii began its second series at its own 20, losing 5 yards of field position in the opening exchange. Saint Juste got all of that back and then some, breaking off a 23-yard run to begin Hawaii’s second drive. Saint Juste had 64 yards on seven carries in the opening two series. A completion from Brown to Ursua and a big run by Tuiasoa set up a first down just outside the 10. On the next snap, Brown found Ursua for a scoring strike. Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 7-0 Hawaii with 4:52 left in the quarter. The eight-play drive went 80 yards.
Not to worry, Wolf Pack fans, the UH defense is equally ineffective, giving up a 66-yard run to Moore that set up a third-down touchdown pass of 7 yards from Gangi to McLane Mannix. Pettit hit the PAT to even the game at 7 with 2:30 left in the period. The five-play drive covered 91 yards.
Historically, Nevada has not been a place where Hawaii could count on a win.
But entering tonight’s Mountain West Conference game, the Rainbow Warriors need to right the ship on the road while there is still time to compete for a division title.
Hawaii has lost its first two league games against Wyoming and Colorado State. Another conference defeat would end any hope of chasing down nationally ranked San Diego State in the West division.
The Warriors are a slight favorite vs. the hosting Wolf Pack at Mackay Stadium, a place where Hawaii has won only once — in 2007. After winning the first two games to start 2017, Hawaii has dropped three straight and needs to finish strong to have any hopes for a shot at the postseason. Nevada is winless in five games.