LOGAN, UTAH >> The University of Hawaii football team appears to have moved on to Plan B.
After Saturday’s 51-31 road loss to Utah State all but doomed their divisional title chances, the Rainbow Warriors’ next mission is to win at least three of their final four regular-season games. At 4-5 overall and 1-3 in the Mountain West, the Warriors need a winning regular season to achieve bowl eligibility. It would take a series of fortunate events for the Warriors to soar from fifth place in the six-team West Division.
“Even if we didn’t have a shot, our goal is to win every week,” quarterback Chevan Cordeiro said. “That’s our mindset. We don’t want to give up the season, especially for our seniors. I want to have an extra game for them. It would mean a lot to them.”
Against Utah State, the Warriors were assessed 10 penalties, including a false start a yard from the end zone, committed three turnovers, failed to defend two long scoring passes and were burned for a 45-yard touchdown return off an onside kick.
After the game, head coach Todd Graham spoke with the senior players.
“I personally gave a message to the seniors and what they meant to me,” Graham said. “We’re going to finish this thing out and go win. And put this (loss) behind us. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
For the final stretch, which begins with Saturday’s home game against San Diego State, the Warriors will have their top two quarterbacks ready. Cordeiro missed three starts because of an upper-body injury. But he returned to the lineup against Utah State, providing the Warriors with experienced leadership and another running option. Cordeiro was 23-for-39 for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was on a deflected pass.
“We were driving on them,” Cordeiro said. “Our offense was rolling. Again, we just hurt ourselves. That’s pretty much it.”
Cordeiro did not play after being tackled on what the officials determined to be a targeting penalty against Z Jackson in the fourth quarter. Cordeiro said he is fine, and he would have been available to return to the game, if needed. UH trailed 51-31 at that point.
The Warriors are hopeful that running back Dae Dae Hunter will be ready to play against San Diego State. Hunter has missed 10 quarters since suffering an injury against Nevada on Oct. 16. The Warriors managed 30 rushing yards on 17 non-sack runs against Utah State. The Warriors were forced to move away from a running attack after falling behind 14-0 in the opening quarter.
The Warriors are expecting a near-capacity crowd for Saturday’s game at the 9,000-seat Ching Complex. It will be UH’s first home football game with up to spectator capacity this season since it was announced Honolulu’s group-gathering restrictions would be eased. While top-tiered, season-ticket holders will receive priority, the tickets will be essentially distributed as individual events. Spectators will be required to be vaccinated and masked during the game.
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