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Hawaii football gets exciting win over Arizona of the Pac-12


    Hawaii wide receiver Cedric Byrd II celebrates after his touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half.

Chevan Cordeiro came off the bench to lead the University of Hawaii football team to a dramatic 45-38 victory today over Pac-12 opponent Arizona before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 20,572.

He completed five of seven passes for 58 yards and one huge touchdown to Cedric Byrd. He also converted one key third down late that all but sealed the victory in the season opener for both teams. It is the second game of Cordeiro’s young career where he came off the bench to lead a comeback. The other was against UNLV last year to become bowl eligible.

Arizona still had one last chance with 51 seconds remaining and no timeouts as Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate took over at his own 16 in need of a touchdown. Time was the biggest factor as UH was willing to give up stuff underneath, just not over the top. And he did just that, throwing a pair of long completions of 26 and 13 yards to Tayvian Cunningham to set up shop at the UH 31 with 10 seconds left.

With the crowd on its feet, Tate broke lose and got all the way down to the UH 1 but was tackled as time ran out. Tate hit 22 of 39 for 361 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 108 yards, including 30 on that last keeper that came up short thanks to the tackle by Pumba Williams and Kalen Hicks as time ran out.

With the scored tied 35-35 to start the final quarter, UH brought in backup quarterback Cordeiro to see what he could do. At this point in the game, starter Cole McDonald had completed 29 of 41 for 378 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions to keep Arizona in the game. Cordeiro led UH to two big wins last year and was looking to do it again in a nail-biting final period.

Taking care of the football was imperative at this point as UH picked up a big first down at the Arizona 39 on an 18-yard run by Miles Reed. Cordeiro threw a 10-yard completion and suddenly the Warriors had a first down at the 25 with 12 minutes left. The Wildcats got UH to a fourth-and-1 at the 17. UH called a timeout to set up a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Meskell. He made it to give UH a 38-35 lead with 10:39 left in the game.

But field goals weren’t going to win this game. Arizona took over at its own 25 after the ensuing kickoff and marched steadily down the field with no one on the UH defense capable of stopping the Wildcats. Facing a second-and-5 at the UH 13, Tate threw a huge interception to Ikem Okeke, who returned it 49 yards to the Arizona 48. From there, Hawaii quickly moved into scoring position at the Arizona 26 on a 22-yard keeper by Cordeiro.

But the drive bogged down on a false start that set up a third down at the 30. No problem — just complete a 30-yard touchdown pass down the middle to Byrd. Meskell hit the PAT to give UH a 45-35 lead with 5:02 left in the game. It was Byrd’s 14th catch for 224 yards and his fourth touchdown.

Arizona came right back with a monstrous pass completion of 57 yards from Tate to Berryhill that, after three penalties on Arizona, led to a 53-yard field goal by Lucas Harvisik that made it 45-38 with 3:53 remaining. It was as close as the Wildcats would come.

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