For the third time this season, the University of Hawai‘i football team committed four or more turnovers and still managed to emerge victorious as the Rainbow Warriors posted a 35-16 win over visiting Central Arkansas at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night.
“That’s the worst feeling I’ve had in the locker room after a win. It was almost somber,” said Hawai‘i coach Nick Rolovich. “I don’t know what to say about that, but I think they all know we could have played better. We’re lucky to be 3-1 with all the turnovers.
“There’s got to be some critical analysis (around limiting turnovers going forward). This is a group of kids that really cares. You have to learn when you win. I know we can play better than that.”
Hawai‘i (3-1) racked up 413 yards of total offense, and quarterback Cole McDonald collected 4 touchdowns and 300 yards through the air. The versatile gunslinger also rushed four times for 31 yards, and guided the ‘Bows to a stellar four-for-four scoring rate when entering the red zone.
“For us this week, we talked about putting the nail in the coffin and burying teams,” said McDonald, who made it a point to thank his offensive line for providing solid protection throughout the game. “The next step is to get that killer instinct, lessen mistakes and finish strong. (It would be great to see), if we can limit those turnovers, how explosive our offense can be.”
An energized Homecoming crowd of 20,252 was treated to a breakout performance by junior pass catcher Jared Smart, who led the UH receiving corps with eight catches for 121 yards and hauled in his first career TD catch.
Carlos Blackman paced Central Arkansas (3-1) with 147 yards on 17 carries and also tossed a 4-yard touchdown on a jump pass to give the Bears their first points of the night and end UH’s run of 28 consecutive points to open the game.
“I think we did a great job, there were some missed tackles, but we had a good defensive swarm and got to the ball,” said senior defensive lineman Kaimana Padello, who collected Hawai‘i’s lone sack on the night, forced a fumble and notched 6 tackles.
UH freshman defensive back Kai Kaneshiro helped Hawai‘i turn defense into offense, and energized his squad with a 55-yard pick-six touchdown to put the home team ahead 7-0 six minutes into the game.
“We kept giving the ball away, and let’s not pretend that’s not a good football team on the other side, but the defense kept us in this football game, and sometimes that’s how it goes,” said Rolovich.
The ‘Bows hit the road to open Mountain West Conference play at Nevada on September 28, and after a week off, head to Idaho to face nationally ranked Boise State on October 12.
“The offense had some bright spots, but sputtered, and our defense kept us in the game,” said Rolovich. “It’s nice to be 3-1 going into conference (play), and to get a win on Homecoming.”