Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste set a school record with 39 carries for 202 yards and two scores to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a 37-26 victory over San Jose State before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 21,021.
It was the first Mountain West Conference victory of the season in four tries for Hawaii. The Warriors snapped a four-game losing streak to lift their season mark to 3-4 and league record to 1-3. The Spartans are 1-7 overall and 0-4 in MWC play.
Saint Juste broke the 200-yard rushing mark for the third time this season. He also scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his four-year career. UH quarterback Dru Brown completed 12 of 23 passes for 173 yards and one score, including a 56-yarder to Keelan Ewaliko late in the fourth quarter that set up the touchdown that clinched it for Hawaii.
San Jose State starting quarterback Montel Aaron had a stellar night in his first start of the year, completing 16 of 26 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Hawaii has its second bye of the season next weekend before playing host to San Diego State in two weeks. The Aztecs lost to Boise State tonight.
FOURTH QUARTER HAWAII 37, SAN JOSE STATE 26
San Jose State had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Bryce Crawford in a brisk breeze sailed wide left as Hawaii dodged a bullet. The Spartans began the drive late in the third quarter, but couldn’t push it across.
The UH offense took it to heart and moved into scoring territory on a mixture of runs by Saint Juste and Brown, including a 17-yard scamper by the UH quarterback for a first down at the 12. It took four snaps from that point, but Hawaii finally scored on a 1-yard run by Saint Juste for his second score of the night. Alex Trifonovitch converted the PAT to extend UH’s lead to 28-20 with nine minutes remaining.
But San Jose State drove a dagger into UH’s heart with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Rahshead Johnson, his third score of the game. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in five years for the Spartans. A celebration penalty led to a long PAT by Crawford that was blocked and returned by UH’s Rojesterman Farris II for a 2-point play to make it 30-26 UH with 8:44 left in the game.
Hawaii got a nice kickoff return out to its own 37 by Ewaliko as UH looked to run some clock. Two carries by Saint Juste set up a third-and-5 that UH converted into a 56-yard pass play from Brown to Ewaliko. He was tackled at the 3 to set up a first-and-goal with 6:39 left.
Two snaps later, Ryan Tuiasoa took it in from 3 yards out for his first score of the night. Trifonovitch made the important PAT to make it 37-26 with 6:09 left.
Aaron was injured on the ensuing series, with Josh Love coming in and doing a commendable job, converting a second-and-27 with a pair of nice pass plays to keep San Jose State in the game. Later in the drive, facing a fourth-and-5 at the UH 38, the pass by Love along the sideline was incomplete with 3:30 left to give UH a chance to run out the clock and seal the deal.
THIRD QUARTER HAWAII 21, SAN JOSE STATE 20
Hawaii got the ball to start the second half as a light rain began to fall, but ended as quickly as it began. Saint Juste picked up where he left off with a 38-yard run into San Jose State territory. A nice pass play of 13 yards from Brown to Ewaliko went to the San Jose State 23. Three snaps later Brown completed a remarkable touchdown pass to Dylan Collie.
At first, the 22-yard grab was ruled incomplete, but after a review, it was overturned because Collie dragged one foot in the end zone before going out of bounds. He caught the ball all the way through to culminate the six-play, 75-yard drive. Alex Trifonovitch hit the PAT to give UH a 21-13 lead with 12:43 left in the third.
During the drive, Saint Juste went over the 1,000-yard mark rushing for the second straight year. It is the first time in school history that that has happened.
San Jose State’s first drive of the second half was a successful one as the Spartans moved into Hawaii territory, needing only four plays to make it to the Warriors 37. A second offensive pass interference call set up a second-and-25 that the Spartans converted on a 48-yard play from Aaron to JaQui Blackwell.
A couple of penalties later by Hawaii set up a first-and-goal at the 1. A false start by the Spartans knocked them back to the 5. San Jose State was then called for offensive pass interference for the third time, making it first-and-goal from the 20. The Spartans made it to the 6 on consecutive pass completions, but a tipped pass by Aaron was picked off by Jahlani Tavai, who returned it to the 8.
The UH offense took over and managed three first downs to escape the shadow of its own goal line to set up shop at midfield. From there, the Rainbow Warriors moved the sticks once more on a keeper by Brown to the 38. The drive slowed a bit as UH faced a fourth-and-5 from the 33, but a pass play failed, giving San Jose State the ball with about two minutes left in the period.
The Spartans needed only two plays to score, with Aaron finding Johnson for the 58-yard touchdown. Bryce Crawford added the PAT to cut the margin to 21-20 with 1:47 left in the period. It was the second catch of the season for the Southern California transfer, both for touchdowns.
Hawaii managed a quick three-and-out as the offense looked stale as San Jose State took over in good field postion at its own 45.
SECOND QUARTER HAWAII 14, SAN JOSE STATE 13
Hawaii continued its drive from the opening quarter by converting a big third-down pass from Brown to John Ursua, who was hurt on the play but walked off the field under his own power. He has battled a sore ankle for most of the season and was ruled out for the game.
The play helped set up a 1-yard scoring run by Saint Juste, who had been held in check by the Spartans. Trifonovitch added the PAT to cut San Jose State’s lead to 10-7 with 13:02 left in the quarter. The 14-play drive went 75 yards for the Warriors.
San Jose State took over at its own 19 for its first drive of the second quarter, converting a third-down pass play from Aaron to Tre Hartley for 27 yards to the UH 36. But an offensive pass interference and a couple of sacks led to a third-and-36 the Spartans didn’t convert.
Both offenses failed on their next series as UH took over at its own 17 after a punt with 4:48 left in the half. The drive started slowly, but UH moved the ball steadily down the field on a good mix of run and pass. Saint Juste appeared to be getting untracked with 87 yards on 17 carries with three minutes left in the half. His last carry of 16 yards set up a first down at the Spartans 26.
With Saint Juste resting, Ryan Tuiasoa carried the ball three straight times to set up a second down from the 4. Saint Juste came back in, but was stacked up for 1 yard, setting up a wildcat situation on a third-and-2. Backup quarterback Cole McDonald took the snap and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Torres. Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 14-10 UH with 34 seconds left in the half. The 10-play drive went 83 yards.
San Jose State quickly moved down the field with the help of a UH penalty to set up a 52-yard field goal by Bryce Crawford that tumbled through the uprights to make it 14-13 at the half. The four-play drive went 43 yards.
FIRST QUARTER SAN JOSE STATE 10, HAWAII 0
San Jose State got the ball first, but after moving the sticks once, the Spartans were forced to punt and UH took over at its own 35. But two plays in, Saint Juste fumbled the ball and it was recovered by San Jose State at the UH 37. It was the first fumble for Saint Juste in 190 carries dating back to last year’s game vs. New Mexico.
The Spartans moved the ball effectively, but eventually settled for a 28-yard field goal by Bryce Crawford when a third-down scramble by Aaron came up short. The drive was seven plays, 26 yards as the Spartans led 3-0 with 9:14 left in the period.
Hawaii’s second drive was a quick three-and-out and the Spartans took over at their own 28 after the punt. A so-so crowd sat on its hands for the first half of the quarter as the Spartans had 47 yards on their opening two drives to UH’s 8.
Once again, the Spartans moved the football well against a struggling UH defense. A little dump pass from Aaron to Tyler Nevens went for 31 yards on a second-down play. Three snaps later, Aaron scrambled for 21 yards to the UH 17 on a key third-down pickup. UH set up another big third-down play when the front line sacked Aaron for a 3-yard loss, but he threw a perfect 15-yard strike to Johnson for the touchdown. It was his first reception of the season. Crawford hit the PAT. The Spartans moved 72 yards on eight plays to take a 10-0 lead with 4:31 left in the quarter.
Hawaii picked up its first first down at the 3:08 mark of the opening period, then moved into San Jose State territory at the 2:54 mark for the first time on a nice play by UH quarterback Dru Brown to wideout Ammon Barker. A holding penalty by Dejon Allen put UH behind the sticks, but the Rainbow Warriors converted on a third-down pass play from Brown to Marcus Armstrong-Brown to the San Jose State 32 as the quarter ended.
The University of Hawaii and San Jose State football teams aren’t overly familiar with winning. Entering tonight’s Mountain West Conference game, the two teams have a combined record of 3-10 overall and 0-6 in league play. The Spartans haven’t led in the last five games and the Rainbow Warriors have lost four straight after opening the season with two close wins.
Somebody’s getting their first victory in conference play, with Hawaii a solid 17-point favorite to get a much-needed victory in the ledger entering the Warriors’ second bye of the season. In two weeks, Hawaii plays host to nationally ranked San Diego State.
With that difficult matchup waiting in the wings, it’s even more important to get that first win of the second half of the season in hopes of somehow breaking even at the end and perhaps qualifying for a bowl game.