For the second consecutive week the University of Hawaii knocked the opponent’s starting quarterback out of the game only to have the backup deliver the knockout blow.
Second-string signal-caller Michael Schmidt didn’t miss a beat when he came in for fallen teammate Donald Hammond III to lead the Air Force Academy to an easy 56-26 win that was punctuated by a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown on a low Cole McDonald pass that was kicked up in the air by Grant Theil and caught by teammate Milton Bugg III, who took it to the house to complete the blowout.
The loss dropped Hawaii to 4-3 for the season and 1-2 in Mountain West Conference play. Air Force raised its season mark to 5-2 and 3-1 in the MWC. Hawaii goes to New Mexico next Saturday to play the Lobos. Air Force returns home to take on Utah State. The Warriors are in need of a big win this weekend without a consistent offense or defense in sight. They yielded a staggering 522 yards on offense as Schmidt gained 120 yards on the ground on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also completed five of six passes for 147 yards and one score.
Running backs Timothy Jackson an Kadin Remsberg also had stellar performances. Jackson carried the football 13 times for 113 yards and one touchdown. Remsberg countered with 91 yards on 11 carries and two scores. McDonald led Hawaii in rushing with 10 runs for 41 yards and in passing, completing 34 of 52 for 404 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw a pick and lost a fumble. Hawaii was penalized five times for 50 yards, often at critical moments. Jared Smart led all receivers with 11 catches for 140 yards.
Hawaii began the fourth quarter down 15, but only 10 yards away from cutting into that 35-20 advantage and giving the UH crowd a reason to get excited. McDonald hit JoJo Ward for the score, but failed on the 2-point conversion to make it 35-26 with 14:54 left in the game.
Air Force took over at its own 25, needing only three snaps to score again, this time on a 61-yard keeper by Schmidt, who was a suitable replacement under center for the Falcons. At this point in the game, he already had more than 147 yards passing and 100 rushing as Air Force took a 42-26 lead with 13:37 remaining.
Hawaii got the ball back and mounted a drive that ended with a McDonald fumble at the UH 42. Hawaii converted a fourth down, but the mistakes keep killing the Warriors. Turnovers and costly penalties combined to kill any chance Hawaii had in this game that saw the Falcons fly in as three-point favorites.
They made Hawaii pay for the mistake on an 18-yard touchdown run by Schmidt to extend the lead to 49-26 with 7:49 left in the game. At this point, what people did come out started live streaming to the exits. It was once again a small crowd, as attendance has been poor all season. Having the game on TV live at home doesn’t help matters for the UH brass.
Schmidt was back under center to start the second half, converting a huge third-down pass early on to take what little momentum UH was trying to create on that side of the football. The Falcons did pretty much what they wanted to offensively throughout the game, with the Warriors defense offering little resistance.
With AFA facing third-and-9 at the UH 29 on the opening series after intermission, a 13-yard run by Remsberg led to a huge fourth-and-1 call that Air Force converted with a nice 10-yard scoring run by Timothy Jackson to extend the advantage to 35-20 with 7:19 left in the third quarter. This opening scoring drive of the second half used up more than half the period as UH faced an uphill climb at home.
The Air Force Academy came out swinging, scoring four touchdowns on its first four possessions to put Hawaii down eight at intermission. Hammond went out with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. No matter. All Schmidt did was throw a scoring pass on his second collegiate attempt for 75 yards to Geraud Sanders to make it 21-10 early in the second quarter.
In the opening half, the Falcons produced 327 yards, scoring two touchdowns by air and two on the ground. Hawaii countered with a pair of scoring passes by McDonald of 59 and 5 yards to Marquise Stovall. Ryan Meskell also converted two field goals of 41 and 27 yards to keep the Warriors within striking distance.