Postgame Notes: Hawaii forces six turnovers for the first time in 10 years as ‘Bows upset nationally ranked Fresno State

Sports

Hawaii celebrates after defensive back Hugh Nelson II (3) made an interception against Fresno State during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Honolulu. Hawaii defeated Fresno State 27-24. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Hugh Nelson II intercepted a pass at Hawaii’s 2-yard line with 9 seconds left after Matthew Shipley kicked a tiebreaking 33-yard field goal with 3:33 remaining, and the Rainbow Warriors rallied to beat No. 18 Fresno State 27-24 Saturday night.

Hawaii (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West) forced six turnovers to record their first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 19 Nevada 27-21 on Oct. 16, 2010.

Fresno State (4-2, 1-1) racked up 505 yards of total offense, including 388 passing from Jake Haener, who entered the game as the FBS leader in passing yards. He finished 28-of-50 passing but was intercepted four times — three times inside Hawaii’s 10-yard line.

The last stalled a 13-play drive on first and 10 from the 11-yard line. Haener’s pass bounced off receiver Ty Jones’ hands right to Nelson, who fell to the ground with the ball to preserve the win.

Hawaii ran out the clock with a trio of QB sneaks by running back Calvin Turner Jr. He fumbled the last one, but Hawaii recovered at its 2-yard line as the clock expired.

“I’m just really proud of our football team,” coach Todd Graham said. “I’m just so proud of our guys, so proud of our team.”

Hawaii won without its starting quarterback, Chevan Cordeiro, who was listed as the expected starter on the team’s pre-game depth chart but did not play. Instead, freshman Brayden Schager made his first career start and helped the Rainbow Warriors notch their first win at home over Fresno State since 2007.

Khoury Bethley recorded nine tackles, two interceptions, one sack and forced a fumble to lead Hawaii on defense.

The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-1) ended a three-game winning streak.

“We had a chance to put them away and we didn’t do that and they’re still a good football team, especially here at home and those little things that we missed on in the past couple games that we got past, bit us in the butt today,” Fresno State coach Kaleb DeBoer said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Fresno State: The loss dropped the Bulldogs into a tie with Hawaii for third place in the West standings of the Mountain West and could knock them out of the AP Top 25.

Hawaii: The victory is the biggest to date for the Rainbow Warriors, who have won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

HAENER HUNG IN THERE

Through Fresno State’s first five games, Haener compiled a completion percentage of 73.1, which ranked seventh nationally. However, he struggled out out of the gates Saturday and completed just four of his first nine passes.

By halftime, Haener was 15 of 26 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he went down with 6:31 left in the third quarter after Hawaii’s Quentin Frazier rolled into his legs. A penalty for roughing the passer was assessed, but Haener required assistance leaving the field, prompting freshman Jaylen Henderson into action.

Haener, however, was back out with the offense to start the next drive and missed just three offensive plays.

DeBoer offered an optimistic prognosis after the game.

“He’s got a lower leg injury,” he said. “And he got it looked at and came back, obviously, and extended some plays for us, so I’m sure it’s going to be a little sore tomorrow, (but) we got a bye week so it’ll be fine. He looked fine there at the end.”

Haener recorded his fourth straight 300-yard passing game and the ninth in his 12-game career with the Bulldogs since he transferred from Washington.

UP NEXT

Fresno State: Has a bye next week before visiting undefeated Wyoming on Oct. 16.

Hawaii: Also has a bye week after playing six games in six weeks before it visits Nevada on Oct. 16.

Post-game Notes

#18 Fresno State at Hawai‘I
Oct. 2, 2021
Clarence T.C. Ching Complex – Honolulu, O‘ahu
 
SERIES INFORMATION

  • UH ended a six-game home losing streak to the Bulldogs. It was UH’s first win over Fresno State in Honolulu since 2007.
  • The Warriors evened the series 15-15 in Honolulu, though Fresno State still leads the overall series 29-24-1.
  • UH’s win over Fresno State was just its third in the last 11 meetings and just its third in 10 all-time Mountain West meetings.  

TEAM STREAKS/TRENDS

·      The Warriors snapped a 13-game losing streaking  against nationally ranked teams that stretched over a decade. Their last win was against No. 19 Nevada (27-21), Oct. 16, 2010 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

·      The Warriors have won their last four Homecoming Games and are 40-29-1 all-time. UH did not have a Homecoming Game last season. 

INDIVIDUAL STREAKS/TRENDS 

  • Senior receiver Jared Smart did not catch a pass for the first time in his career. Smart had at least once catch in 29 straight games dating back to 2019.
  • Chevan Cordeiro’s string of 14 straight starts at quarterback ended after sitting out Saturday’s game due to injury.

TEAM NOTES

  • UH improved to 11-46 all-time versus nationally ranked teams and 10-26 at home.
  • UH’s six turnovers forced was its most since 2011 in a road loss at San Jose State. The Warriors recorded four interceptions and two fumbles.
  • UH has forced nine turnovers in the last two games.
  • The Warriors have forced multiple turnovers in four of six games this year.
  • UH rushed for better than 200 yards (232) for the second straight game and for the third time overall this season.
  • UH surrendered its longest pass play of the season when Jake Pope scored on a 65-yard connection from Jake Haener in the first quarter.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

·      Freshman Brayden Schager made his first career start at quarterback for UH in place on injured Chevan Cordeiro. Schager finished 11-of-27 passing for 116 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.  

·      Schaeger became the fifth straight UH quarterback to win in his starting debut and the second straight freshman (Chevan Cordeiro) to do so.

·      Dae Dae Hunter recorded his second career 100-yard rushing game with 127 yards on a career-high 21 carries.

·      Calvin Turner Jr. has scored in each of the last five games and has eight touchdowns total this season after a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, on Saturday.

·      Caleb Phillips scored his second touchdown of the season and first since the season opener with a 26-yard catch in the fourth quarter.

·      Matthew Shipley hit his fifth straight field goal when he nailed a 34-yarder in the first quarter. Shipley is 6-of-7 on field goals this season.

·      Cortez Davis intercepted his first pass of the season and the second of his career with a second-quarter pick of Jake Haener.

·      Khoury Bethley picked off two passes, for his second multi-interception game of his career. Bethley also had two interception in UH’s 2019 Hawai‘i Bowl win over BYU.

·      Hugh Nelson, who started for an injured Cameron Lockridge, sealed the game with an interception – his second of the season – on Fresno State’s final possession of the game.

·      Quentin Frazier tied his career-high with nine tackles.

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