Ferd Lewis: Ti leaves can’t overcome University of Hawaii’s turnovers
The 1,000 ti leaves the Hawaii Tourism Authority imported for the University of Hawaii football faithful to wave on behalf of the Rainbow Warriors were trumped by something even more powerful Saturday. Turnovers.
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SEATTLE >> The 1,000 ti leaves the Hawaii Tourism Authority imported for the University of Hawaii football faithful to wave on behalf of the Rainbow Warriors were trumped by something even more powerful Saturday.
Three interceptions doomed early and loudly any longshot hopes the Warriors had of staying with 23rd-ranked Washington in an eventual 52-20 nonconference blowout.
The Huskies recycled them into 17 points, 14 of them contributing to a 38-0 second-quarter lead. “It (the takeaways) changed the game for us,” UW coach Chris Petersen said.
On a day when the Pac-12 Conference again took its lumps, it was left to the Huskies to gain some measure of retribution for the beleaguered conference by thumping one of the league’s leading 2019 tormentors, UH.
The Rainbows got away with six turnovers in a season-opening 45-38 victory over Arizona. UH even overcame two more in a 31-28 triumph over Oregon State.
Against lesser teams UH had led a charmed existence, tied for 129th — and in last place — in the Football Bowl Subdivision in turnovers lost (eight) and turnover margin (-3.0), while still going 2-0.
But surmounting three turnovers — Nos. 9, 10 and 11 of the season — against the much more well-rounded and talented Huskies was beyond the Warriors’ capabilities. What the ’Bows needed Saturday before maybe 55,000 purple-clad patrons (tickets distributed was announced at 67,589) was a near-perfect game. What they produced was an imperfect one.
It did not help that, for the second game in succession, UH didn’t force any turnovers from the opposition.
“I don’t think we’re ready for the Rose Bowl,” coach Nick Rolovich deadpanned afterward.
About the first thing that could go wrong did. Two plays into the game safety Khoury Bethley was ejected for targeting and, suddenly, the Huskies had the ball at the UH 47-yard line and scored one play later on a pass from quarterback Jacob Eason to tight end Hunter Bryant.
On the second play of UH’s first series, quarterback Cole McDonald’s pass was intercepted. Less than 90 seconds later, the Huskies were up 14-0 and on the way to a 21-0 first quarter lead.
Things were so desperate that UH even attempted a 55-yard field goal in the first quarter. Meanwhile, even when the Huskies suffered a rare setback, or even a double one, they came away with points.
UW had one second-quarter touchdown called back on a holding penalty. Then, on the same drive, it had another apparent TD disallowed when replay showed the receiver had trapped a ball that touched the ground. But the Huskies still emerged with points on a 23-yard field goal for a 38-0 lead.
Of McDonald’s three interceptions, one was basically stripped from receiver JoJo Ward, who was trying to reel in the pass. Another was produced on a fourth-quarter pass that was deflected high into the air that was picked off.
“When you play a Pac-12 champion, you can’t afford mistakes,” said McDonald, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown and was twice spelled by Chevan Cordeiro. Cordeiro completed four of 12 passes for 36 yards.
“We’ve got to make less turnovers,” Rolovich said. “We just can’t turn the ball over and expect to win football games.”
Once upon a time this season they could — and, somehow, did. But not on this day when even with their ti leaves were no match for their imperfections.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 529-4820.