Brigham Young University spoiled the University of Hawaii senior walk with a 30-20 victory on a blustery night at Aloha Stadium. A crowd of 19,256 watched the final football game of the 2017 season as the Rainbow Warriors dropped to 3-9 overall. BYU finished 4-9 in an entertaining nonconference meeting between familiar foes.
This was the 30th time these two teams have faced each other, with the Cougars winning 10 of the last 11 and 22 games overall. Hawaii couldn’t get its ground game going and had a hard time moving the ball through the air as well. The UH offense managed only 286 yards. Running back Diocemy Saint Juste concluded his career with only 39 yards on 12 carries. He still set the single-season rushing record, breaking the mark held by Travis Sims.
The most productive Warrior was wideout Dylan Collie. He caught six passes for 103 yards. Saint Juste had nine grabs for 39 yards. UH quarterback Dru Brown completed 28 of 38 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one fumble lost. BYU quarterback Joe Critchlow completed 14 of 23 for 166 yards and one score. Squally Canada, who sat out the second half, carried the ball 17 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Kafentzis had 98 yards on 18 carries and Riley Burt added 75 yards on 13 attempts. BYU finished with 451 total yards, 285 on the ground.
FOURTH QUARTER: BRIGHAM YOUNG 30, HAWAII 20
Hawaii capitalized on the turnover late in the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Ammon Barker. The PAT was blocked to make it 20-13 with 12:23 left in the game. The five-play drive went 19 yards as UH got back into the game thanks to a pair of turnovers by the Cougars.
BYU began its next drive at its own 20 with the crowd back into the game and the drizzle finally stopping with about 12 minutes left. From there, BYU needed only four plays to move into UH territory, helped by a pass interference penalty on Eugene Ford. A steady diet of inside run plays and quick slants had BYU facing a second-and-6 at the UH 22 as the clock hit the eight-minute mark. Critchlow had a scamper to make it third-and-2 with big back Burt getting stuffed on the run play, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Andrew Mikkelsen that was good with 6:21 left to make it 23-13.
Down 10 points, UH got the ball out near midfield, facing a fourth-and-4, but failed to convert and BYU took over at the 41 with 4:27 left in the game. The three-play drive went 41 yards.
BYU quickly moved into the red zone with a 19-yard run by Burt that was aided by a face-mask penalty that gave BYU the ball at the UH 10. After losing a yard on the first play, Burt took it in untouched from 11 yards out, his first score of the season. The PAT by Mikkelsen was good to make it 30-13 with 3:46 remaining.
Hawaii added a score late on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Kumoku Noa. It was his second TD catch of the season. Alex Trifonovitch added the PAT to make it 30-20 with 1:48 left. The six-play drive went 75 yards. UH attempted an onside kick, but BYU recovered and ran out the clock.
THIRD QUARTER: BRIGHAM YOUNG 20, HAWAII 7
Hawaii got the ball to start the second half as a light rain began to fall. Though Saint Juste gained only 10 yards in the first half on seven carries, the Rainbow Warriors once again tried to establish the run. It didn’t work. The Warriors managed only one first down before being forced to punt, and BYU began its first drive of the second half at the UH 16.
With leading BYU rusher Squally Canada sidelined in the second half because of the concussion protocol, the Cougars’ run game was forced to adjust. Canada scored both touchdowns in the first half. Kafentzis took over the tailback role and broke off a nice 18-yard run to get the ball out near midfield.
He carried the ball seven times in the first half out of the wildcat formation. The former high school quarterback, whom UH head coach Nick Rolovich tried to recruit while at Nevada, had 76 yards on his first 11 carries as he helped BYU get into UH territory before the drive stalled. Facing a fourth-and-9 at the UH 35, BYU managed only 8 on the pass play as the Warriors took over at their own 27.
UH got out near midfield, but a tripping penalty by Dakota Torres put UH behind the sticks. Brown was picked off in the flat, but on further review, the interception was overturned as the ball skipped off the turf before Chris Wilcox could gain control, leading to a punt. BYU took over at its own 36, losing about 13 yards in field position after the pick was overturned, with 4:57 left in the quarter.
BYU quickly moved down the field into UH territory on a 37-yard pass play from Critchlow to tight end Matt Bushman to set up a first down at the 26. From there, the Cougars scored on an 11-yard pass play from Critchlow to Neil Pau’u. The PAT by Mikkelsen was good to extend BYU’s lead to 20-7 with 1:39 left in the period. The eight-play drive went 64 yards.
Hawaii got the ball at its own 35 to start its next series and promptly went three-and-out. BYU’s Michael Shelton lost the football on the punt return, with Torres recovering at the BYU 19. Noah Borden was credited with the strip as the quarter ended.
SECOND QUARTER: BRIGHAM YOUNG 13, HAWAII 7
Brigham Young began its next scoring drive in the first quarter and ended it on a 4-yard touchdown run by Squally Canada, his second score of the game. The 80-yard drive needed 16 plays and took 8:07 off the clock. Rhett Almond missed the PAT wide left, giving BYU a 13-7 advantage with 11:31 left in the quarter. BYU kept the drive alive by converting a fourth-and-13 play.
The UH offense finally returned to the field. Its previous drive began at the 9:58 mark of the first quarter. UH picked up a first down on a short pass play to move the chains and give the defense a chance to rest. UH tried to establish the running game with Saint Juste, but struggled. He managed only 6 yards on his first six carries. Fortunately for UH, quarterback Brown completed a couple of big passes to Collie to keep the unit on the field for a couple of sets of downs, before punting to the BYU 9 with about five minutes left in the half.
BYU managed one first down before being forced to punt, with UH taking over at its own 32 with about two minutes remaining in the period. Hawaii picked up a first down to move into BYU territory, but then Brown fumbled and the ball was picked out of the air by BYU’s Merrill Taliauli and returned to the UH 42.
From there, BYU picked up a quick first down on a pass play at the UH 31, but a sack at the 40 put the drive in jeopardy. BYU faced a fourth down at the UH 25 and opted to go for it, completing a pass to the 18 for a first down with 52 seconds left in the period. The Cougars eventually settled for a 26-yard field-goal attempt by Almond that missed wide left with two seconds left in the half to keep BYU’s lead at six.
FIRST QUARTER: BRIGHAM YOUNG 7, HAWAII 7
Hawaii won the toss and elected to defer. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Brigham Young took the opening kickoff and went 85 yards on five running plays to take the lead. The final rush was 40 yards by Canada. Almond added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 12:27 left in the quarter.
Hawaii’s opening drive began at its 19 with the Rainbow Warriors promptly going three-and-out. Fortunately for the fans, the UH defense forced a rare three-and-out of its own, taking over at its own 9. The Warriors picked up a first down on a 13-yard pass play from Brown to wideout Marcus Armstrong-Brown. Brown then Collie for 44 yards to the BYU 34.
But the drive bogged down a bit, setting up a fourth-down play from the 27. Saint Juste tried to pick up the 3 yards on a play up the middle, but gained only 2 as BYU took over at its own 25 midway through the period and picked up a first down out to the 45 with a 13-yard completion from Critchlow to Jonah Trinnaman.
But two snaps later, Critchlow was hit in the pocket by Trayvon Henderson and the ball popped into the air, where it was snagged by UH’s Solomon Matautia and returned 42 yards for a touchdown. Trifonovitch added the PAT to tie the game 7-7 with 4:42 left.
BYU began its next drive at its own 20 and promptly moved out to the 37 on a nice pass play from Critchlow to Micah Simon. And that was just the beginning as Critchlow and Canada mixed pass and run to move into UH territory at the 39 as the quarter ended.
There was a time a quarter-century ago when this football game between the University of Hawaii and Brigham Young University was a sellout. That’s certainly not the case today on a blustery afternoon at practically empty Aloha Stadium.
Both teams came onto the field for warm-ups with about 46 minutes left until kickoff with barely any applause since there might have been 500 people to greet them. Hawaii swapped sides of the field to avoid the sun in this nonconference affair between two teams that have won a combined six games.
The Cougars remain an independent football team in search of a conference. They have already played 12 games and won only three. Hawaii counters with just three victories as well in 11 appearances. Rolovich managed a 7-7 campaign a year ago, but his sophomore season at UH has been difficult to watch — hence the small crowd expected for this nationally televised affair.
Hawaii says goodbye to 20 seniors today, including Saint Juste and Henderson, the top acts of the class. They are two of 11 starters who have held those spots for most of the season. Ten will play today.
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.