Hawaii football team upsets Nevada

When the Mountain West Conference published the program earlier this year, you well know that everyone on the University of Nevada soccer team asked, “When will we play in Hawaii?”

The Rainbow Warriors covered the Wolf Pack by 51 in the Nevada backyard last fall, their biggest home loss since World War I. Undefeated at Aloha Stadium, Nevada expected the long flight to Reno to be a happy one. It wasn’t thanks to the play of current quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and former signal caller that Calvin Turner was renamed all-rounder to lead Hawaii to a stunning 24-21 defeat of the Wolf Pack.

The league loss dropped Nevada to 5-1 for the season as the UH figure leveled at 3-3. It was a signature win for UH head coach Todd Graham, who came up with a defensive plan of turn but tried not to break too often. It worked well enough for the Warriors to bring home victory with a victory formation on the Nevada 2-yard line.

Cordeiro was nothing spectacular. He completed 26 of 32 for 246 yards and one touchdown to Turner. He also ran the ball 15 times for 62 yards and another score to give a one-two punch that the Wolf Pack couldn’t contain on key plays. Cordeiro and the UH attack put down 10 thirds downs and a massive fourth to do just enough to take the win.

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Turner produced 152 all-purpose yards, including 47 on a kickoff return at a crucial point in the game. He scored on a touchdown pass just before the half that gave UH a 10-7 lead during the break.

Nevada trailed 17-7 to start the fourth quarter, but already knocked on Hawaii’s front door with a second-down play on the Hawaii 11. Walking Back Toa Taua had 10 yards on a center run, then scored from 1 meter to reduce the margin to 17-14 with 2:28 PM remaining in the fourth quarter. At this point, the high-octane Wolf Pack’s passing game chose to run and run and run some more, as Taua had 131 yards on 20 carriers.

But would it be enough against a Warriors defense that took away the Wolf Pack’s passing ability in favor of the run and goes underneath to the big tight Cole Turner? Hawaii responded with an efficient own attack, with Cordeiro converting important third downs in the second half.

One was a massive 19-yard completion of play-action from Cordeiro to Rico Bussey that eventually led to a third down play on Nevada 21. Cordeiro turned it on an angled pass to Melquise Stovall for 14 yards. Two plays later, Cordeiro took over from 2 yards and made it 24-14 UH with 9:31 over in the game.

Nevada did not go home without a fight. Granted, it wasn’t from long range, but Wolf Pack’s attack was effective enough to transition into scoring area with enough time. Facing a third and eighth on UH 18, Nevada quarterback Carson Strong went for everything, connecting Tory Horton over UH cornerback Michael Washington via an 18-yard touchdown pass. Brandon Talton added the PAT to make it 24-21 with 5:38 left.

Strong hit 20 of 25 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. But connected to big-play receiver Romeo Doubs only once for 10 meters. He settled for the routes below to Cole Turner, who had six catches for 48 yards and a score.

All-in-one Calvin Turner took the ensuing kickoff 47 yards back for UH to the Nevada 46. Two players later, Turner took a flat 16 yards for a big first when the clock dropped below four minutes. But the Wolf Pack took on Turner for a loss and put in a fourth-and-6. Graham went for it and Cordeiro hit Turner 30 feet on a rub route and a first down with less than two minutes to go.

It left behind another third, but a false start from UH made it third-and-7, with Cordeiro opting for a fade route to Saint Louis School teammate Jonah Panoke, who was hindered in the end zone and the victory formation.

Under 10-7 to start the third quarter, Nevada quickly took Hawaii off the field and then finished the field mix run and passed in a steady, if not flashy fashion. But a bad hit from the center with Strong in the gun led to a third and 17 the Wolf Pack failed to convert. It doesn’t matter, Strong hit the perfect pooch kick that got knocked down at the UH 1 mid-period.

The Warriors got a first via a face-mask penalty on the third down and then an 11 yard completion on another third down snap that took them out of the shadow of their own goal line. Facing a third and two, Turner grabbed 30 yards from the wildcat and then another 15 were turned on for a horse collar to give UH a first on the Nevada 13.

Two plays later, Miles Reed scored from 4 yards and Matthew Shipley added the PAT to make it 17-7 with 3:20 left in the third quarter. The 10-play, 99-yard drive took four minutes of the clock and had Nevada 10 down and needed an attack. Halfway through the neighborhood, Taua crossed the century marker on 16 bruises. Strong finally completed a pass to Doubs for a first down and then another to Taua for a first down on UH 31.

A late hit from UH kept the drive alive at UH 15 as the third quarter ended with a 17-7 lead for UH.

Hawaii scored first with a 31-yard field goal from Shipley that barely stayed within the left upright to make it 3-0 with 10:11 left in the second quarter. At this point in the game, each team had the ball stuck to the ground deck with the Wolf Pack only twice if the Warriors defense gave it to them.

This steady diet of running the ball got the game going fast before Strong decided to vent his arm midway through the period. It led to a first-and-goal on the 4 that Strong converted into a touchdown pass to Turner on a fade route near the end zone’s left sideline. Talton added the PAT to give Nevada a 7-3 lead with 2:57 left in the half. The 13-play drive was 81 yards and lasted 7:08 am on the clock.

The game was barely an hour old and the second quarter was within three minutes. Enough time for the Warriors to put some points on the board before the break. Faced with a third-and-15 early in the drive, Cordeiro stopped and ran 25 yards, then had another scamper twice later that led to a 12-yard win and a late hit, giving UH a first-and-goal at the 8.

Cordeiro found Turner on an easy flat route set up on a legal pick-play that made it 10-7 with 59 ticks left in the quarter. Earlier in the eight-play, 75-yard drive, Nevada used all of its timeouts hoping to get the ball back. Well, it worked, but instead of leading four, the Wolf Pack was three behind and was looking for a major attack. But it just wasn’t there in the first 30 minutes.

Nevada got the ball first and ate half of the first quarter, going 43 yards on 13 plays before a personal foul penalty ruined the Wolf Pack’s plans to score points in the opening series. Hawaii also failed on its first stage, grabbing a few first downs, but crammed into a third and 1 that led to a nice punt that made Nevada start its second stage on its own 5.

The Wolf Pack kept the ground game on the front cover of the playbook and quickly transitioned to the UH 45 with just two standard run plays. But the drive stopped and the first quarter came and went without a score.

For more Hawaii football, visit it Warrior Beat blog.