Fresno State withstood a late-game rally, and used a 37-yard field goal booted by Cesar Silva to knock off the University of Hawai‘i football team 41-38 Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
UH built a 24-14 halftime lead, but squandered the advantage by allowing 24 unanswered points through the third frame and into the fourth quarter. While the Rainbow Warriors clawed back to tie the game at 38 with two touchdowns in a span of 65 seconds, Hawai‘i’s porous defense allowed the Bulldogs to march down the field and set up the game-winning score as time expired.
“Credit to Fresno, they showed a lot of fight – that’s a football team that knows how to win. We have to pick ourselves up,” said Hawai‘i coach Nick Rolovich. “This team loves each other, they love playing for Hawai‘i.”
The Bulldogs (4-4, 2-2 Mountain West) were buoyed by the consistent play of quarterback Jorge Reyna, who passed for 188 yards and a score, and ran for 96 yards on 11 carries. Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers collected 103 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Zane Pope posted 58 yards through the air and a touchdown.
The Rainbow Warriors (5-4, 2-3) were led initially by Cole McDonald, who passed for 275 yards and a touchdown. However the gunslinger struggled in the second half, and after unleashing a handful of errant passes, he was replaced by Chevan Cordeiro, who ended up scoring the game-tying touchdown by running 10 yards up the middle with 1:08 left in the game.
“I thought the ball was coming out of Cole’s hand a bit funky, so I thought it was time to bring Chevan in,” said Rolovich. “I think we have two great quarterbacks, and I’ve said that for a long time.”
Hawaii excelled on the ground, rushing for 209 yards on 31 attempts – a 6.7 yards-per-carry clip. However, the home team committed 13 penalties for 135 yards to give Fresno State favorable field position and extend drives.
“The biggest thing is we’ve got to tackle. We knew that (Reyna) could scramble…at the end of the day, we need to wrap up,” said Hawai‘i defensive lineman Kaimana Padello, who finished the game with two tackles, a forced fumble and a pass broken up. “We’ve got to play smarter football.”
The UH defense received a solid effort from linebacker Darius Muasau, who racked up nine total tackles and recovered two fumbles. As a unit, though, Hawai‘i gave up 514 yards to the Bulldogs, who now lead the all-time series 29-22-1.
Fresno State has won eight of the last nine meetings between the squads, and have been victorious in their last six games at Aloha Stadium.