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Hawaii defense tightens up for 31-28 win over Oregon State


    Hawaii wide receiver JoJo Ward hauls in a pass for a touchdown ahead of Oregon State defensive back Nahshon Wright during the first half.


    Ryan Meskell converts a field goal late in the fourth quarter.

For the second time in two games, it came down to one play.

And for the second time in two games, that play went in favor of the University of Hawaii football team as the Rainbow Warriors held on for a 31-28 victory over Oregon State tonight before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 25,141. The victory raised UH’s record to 2-0 and dropped OSU to 0-2.

Two weeks ago, Hawaii had to tackle Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate at the 1 to preserve the win. This week, the Warriors could only stand and watch as Oregon State place-kicker Jordan Choukair attempted a 52-yard game-tying field goal that sailed wide left at the end. Oregon State attempted a hook and lateral all over the field with four seconds left on the clock, but the play was stopped at the UH 46 as time ran out.

After Ryan Meskell made a 27-yard field goal to give UH the lead, he kicked the ball out of bounds, giving OSU the ball at its own 40 with two minutes left. The Beavers needed only two plays to move across midfield and then another pass completion for a first down at the UH 34. Two incomplete passes by OSU quarterback Jake Luton led to a huge third-down play — so much so, UH called timeout to make sure everyone knew what to do.

An incomplete pass led to a 52-yard field-goal attempt by Choukair that he hooked left to seal the win for Hawaii. UH was led by quarterback Cole McDonald, who completed 30 of 52 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns. All of the scoring strikes were to wideout JoJo Ward. He caught 10 passes for 189 yards. His four touchdown receptions tied a school record.

The defense should also get some credit. After yielding 28 points in the first half alone, the Warriors didn’t allow a point after the break, giving the offense the opportunity to score late and escape with another win over a Pac-12 program.

With the score tied 28-28, Hawaii began the fourth quarter with a first down at the OSU 22, but the drive stalled, leading to a 27-yard field-goal attempt by Meskell that he hooked left. It was his second miss of the game and gave the Beavers the ball at their own 20 in search of their first points of the second half.

Facing a fourth-and-1 at their own 29, the Beavers converted and began the long trek downfield. It led to another fourth-down call at midfield, but this time, the Warriors held, forcing a turnover on downs at the UH 46 with 9:57 left in regulation. Hawaii picked up a quick first down, moving into OSU’s territory at the 42.

A third-down keeper by McDonald gave UH a first down at the 36 with about half the quarter left. A holding penalty on UH was a drive killer as Meskell came in for a 48-yard field-goal attempt that he missed wide left, his third errant try of the game in as many tries. It gave OSU the ball at its own 30 with 6:05 left. The Hawaii defense forced a huge three-and-out that led to a fake punt by Oregon State that failed miserably, giving UH the ball at its own 34 with 4:18 left.

A completed pass to Ward and a late hit by Omar Hicks-Onu gave UH the ball at the OSU 12. McDonald threw an incomplete pass and then kept it for 2 yards to set up a third-and-8 that led to another incomplete pass to set up a 28-yard field goal by Meskell that he knocked through to make it 31-28 with 2:17 left. Meskell was 1-for-4 on field goals and that helped keep OSU in it.

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