Despite having its share of miscues throughout the game, the University of Hawaii returned to the win column with a 41-21 victory over New Mexico State in Las Cruces on Saturday afternoon.
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After falling narrowly at home to San Jose State last week, Hawaii improves to 2-3, while NMSU falls to 1-4.
The Aggies had no trouble moving the ball in the first drive, going up 3-0 on Ethan Albertson’s 33-yard field goal. Hawaii responded with a 74-yard touchdown from Chevan Cordeiro to Nick Mardner in the first play of the game.
Hawaii extended its lead to 10-3 after Matthew Shipley’s 26-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the first quarter, a score that would remain for the rest of the period.
In the second quarter, the visitors extended their lead on a forced fumble by Quentin Frazier, which was scooped up by Cameron Lockridge for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, NMSU responded with a 6-yard touchdown from Jonah Johnson to Robert Downs with 11:27 left in the second quarter to cut the UH lead to 17-10. After a Dae Dae Hunter fumble, NMSU cut into the lead further with Albertson’s 20-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the second quarter.
Cordeiro extended the Hawaii lead to 24-13 on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
Calvin Turner gave UH a 31-13 lead on a remarkable 14-yard rushing score in which he reversed field, but the Aggies answered quickly on Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion to cut the UH lead to 31-21 with 10:20 left. A field goal by Matthew Shipley and a 19-yard touchdown run by Dedrick Parson with 1:52 remaining put the game away for good. Parson finished with a game-high 89 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Hawaii fumbled the ball twice and turned the ball over twice on offense, but also forced two fumbles and two turnovers on defense. The Rainbow Warriors also allowed three sacks and committed six penalties for a total of 32 yards. UH went just 2-for-9 on third downs and scored three touchdowns on first downs.
Cordeiro completed 16 of his 25 passes for 277 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Mardner hauled in four passes for a game-high 120 yards. Defensively, Darius Muasau had 11 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss, which were all game-highs, while Lockridge added seven tackles, an interception and a defensive touchdown.
The Rainbow Warriors will return home next week and resume Mountain West Conference play against No. 22 Fresno State on Saturday at 5 p.m. HST. At the time this story was published, fans will still not be allowed to attend due to Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi’s 28-day extension of a ban on large gatherings exceeding 25 people. The contest between the ‘Bows and Bulldogs will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.