Hawaii football upsets No. 18 Fresno State, 27-24

Sports

Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Cropper (5) fumbles the ball after running into Hawaii defensive back Quentin Frazier (19), defensive back Khoury Bethley (5), and defensive back Hugh Nelson II (3) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Without some crucial key pieces, the University of Hawaii football team upset No. 18 Fresno State 27-24 on Saturday night after outscoring the Bulldogs 17-0 in the fourth quarter at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex on Saturday night.

Hawaii improves to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in Mountain West Conference play, while Fresno State falls to 4-2 and 1-1 in conference games.

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After the Rainbow Warriors beat the Bulldogs in 2020 with quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, true freshman Brayden Schager got the starting nod under center after Cordeiro wasn’t fully ready to go with an injury. Additionally, reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week Cameron Lockridge exited after the first play of the game after suffering an apparent leg injury.

After forcing a Fresno State fumble on the game’s opening possession, the ‘Bows took a 7-0 lead on Calvin Turner’s 1-yard rush after Schager led them down the field with 42 passing yards, completing four of his six passes. On their next drive, the Rainbow Warriors got into the red zone again but not the end zone, settling for a 34-yard Matthew Shipley field goal to take a 10-0 lead with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard after Darius Muasau dropped an interception for UH. On the next play, Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener hit Zane Pope in stride for a 65-yard score with 4:13 left in the opening period.

Fresno State took the lead for the first time on Pope’s second touchdown from Haener on an eight-yard score with 9:06 remaining in the first half, a lead that would carry into halftime.

With 9:22 remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 21-10 on a 35-yard pass from Haener to Jalen Cropper on third-and-long. In Fresno’s next offensive possession, Haener appeared to injure his ankle but the Bulldogs were still able to salvage a 48-yard Cesar Silva field goal with 4:29 left in the third quarter to extend their lead to 24-10.

The Rainbow Warriors cut the deficit to 24-17 on Schager’s first college touchdown, a 26-yard pass to a wide open Caleb Phillips with 12:06 left in the third quarter. On the team’s next possession, Calvin Turner made an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown grab to tie the game at 24 with 7:05 left.

After a Khoury Bethley strip sack fumble to give Hawaii the ball at the Fresno State 45, Hawaii took a 27-24 lead on Matthew Shipley’s 33-yard field goal with 3:33 remaining.

Fresno State was driving quickly down Hawaii territory towards the end of regulation, but Hugh Nelson’s interception with 11 seconds remaining effectively put an end to the game.

In all, the Hawaii defense had six takeaways, led by Bethley, who had a game-high nine tackles, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble.

Schager finished with 116 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-27 passing and no interceptions, while Dae Dae Hunter amassed a game-high 127 rushing yards on 21 carries.

For Fresno State, Haener completed 28 of his 50 passes for 388 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Hawaii has a bye next week and will next take the field at Nevada on Oct. 16. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. HST.

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