FRESNO, Calif. >> You always remember your first. And for veteran head football coach Todd Graham that memory will be a fond one after the University of Hawaii secured a rare road win over rival Fresno State at empty Bulldog Stadium on an early evening in central California.
The final score was 34-19 in the Mountain West Conference matchup to go to 1-0 for the season. But for Graham, it will mean much more than that. For the man who once walked the sidelines of Arizona State and Tulsa, it is a validation of his style of coaching and the innovative ways he married the things he does well as a coach with what works best for his newfound team of Rainbow Warriors.
The offense thrived under the direction of sophomore Chevan Cordeiro in his first real start for his hometown team and fifth overall — all victories. For the previous four, everyone figured Cole McDonald was the real starter. Cordeiro just tried to fill his shoes from time to time to help get McDonald back on track.
But during this early evening, McDonald wasn’t holding his helmet, waiting to strap it on and come back in at a moment’s notice. Early on last spring when the COVID-19 virus first answered here to the roll call, Graham handed the keys to his offense to the former Saint Louis School standout and seven months later he did his new coach proud.
Rushing for two first-half touchdowns and then watching as Jacksonville transfer Calvin Turner ran for two more out of the wildcat formation, Cordeiro did a little bit of everything. He was efficient passing, completing 20 of 30 for 229 yards. He had no interceptions or touchdowns, but he did rush for 116 yards on 13 carries, including two scoring runs of 3 and 20 yards in the first half to give UH a 17-13 advantage. Matt Shipley hit one of his two field goals in the opening half as Hawaii eventually pulled away over the final two quarters.
Turner complemented Cordeiro perfectly, carrying the ball eight times for 60 yards and two scores. Running back Miles Reed added another 109 on the ground on 21 bruising carries. He didn’t score, but he was part of a team total of 323 yards rushing, something that dated back to the days of Paul Johnson.
New wideout Rico Bussey had eight catches for 86 yards. Like Reed, he helped move the chains to set up the four rushing scores for the quarterbacks.
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.