3 takeaways from Hawaii’s 41-38 loss to Fresno State
Some may have thought the Hawaii-Fresno State rivalry had lost some of its sizzle over the years. But last night’s thrill-ride brawl that the Bulldogs won 41-38 with a walk-off field goal can only rekindle the fire.
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MORE JUICE FOR RIVALRY
Some may have thought the Hawaii-Fresno State rivalry had lost some of its sizzle over the years. But last night’s thrill-ride brawl that the Bulldogs won 41-38 with a walk-off field goal can only rekindle the fire. Rainbow Warriors players, coaches and fans won’t forget nearly winning after facing a 14-point deficit in the final minutes.
There wasn’t as much on the line as in some previous encounters (1999 and 2007 especially come to mind), and this game was definitely not a masterpiece of disciplined and precision football. But in some ways it gets a spot as an instant classic — even with the hugely disappointing result for the home team.
CORDEIRO AGAIN … ALMOST
The Hawaii quarterback who has led the Warriors to late dramatic comebacks off the bench nearly did it again. Chevan Cordeiro came in with less than nine minutes left and UH trailing 38-24. He immediately tantalized the crowd with a 25-yard run into the Fresno State red zone.
But the Bulldogs defense held up, and Fresno took over at its own 4 … and with Hawaii back in desperation mode — especially if Fresno State came up with a couple of first downs to run the clock down. Quarterback Jorge Reyna got one with an 8-yard run, and UH was forced to use its last timeout.
Hawaii was not done, though. The Warriors continued to fight back to a tie with Cordeiro’s magic and a recovered onside kick by Darius Muasau — his second fumble recovery of the game.
DOMINANT, BUT ONLY AT TIMES
There’s a simple lesson to be learned from this heartbreaking loss: One quarter of good football and a few other big clutch plays near the end is not always enough to win a game.
If not for way too many mistakes and long offensive droughts, Hawaii could have run away with a win.
The Warriors dominated the second quarter, leading by 10 at the break. But it would be all Fresno State almost the entire rest of the way.
UH had some big plays to thank for its early success, including a huge one on defense by Kaimana Padello. Coming from the backside, he got to Reyna just in time to tip his hand and the ball before his arm moved forward.
The ball — which looked like a tipped incomplete pass at first glance — went 8 yards downfield, where it was recovered by Muasau. Hawaii took advantage with a career-long 50-yard field goal by Ryan Meskell.
Quarterback Cole McDonald found JoJo Ward wide open; Hawaii led 24-14 at the break, and it looked like they were off to the races.
But the Warriors would be hurt by a ridiculous amount of penalty yardage (13 for 135 yards), inconsistent passing, drops and tips.
For Fresno State, Jalen Cropper’s unique first-half contributions kept his team in it.
How often do you see a receiver throw a touchdown pass and run for a score in the same half?
To its dismay, the UH defense saw it first-hand, as Cropper threw a 36-yard TD pass and took an end-around for a 53-yard score … but did not catch a pass in the first half. The Bulldogs would take control later in more orthodox ways, and of course, Cesar Silva is the toast of the San Joaquin Valley with his 37-yard field goal to win it.
But this was the kind of game where every contribution — and every mistake — mattered in the end.