Monday, December 26, 2016

The Hawaiʻi Bowl: Hawaiʻi vs. Middle Tennessee Recap

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Under the direction of first-year head coach Nick Rolovich, the University of Hawaiʻi Rainbow Warriors became bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. The 6-7 Warriors faced the 8-4 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders for the 2016 Hawaiʻi Bowl trophy. With 20,327 fans in attendance, UH earned their first bowl win in a decade.

Within the first five minutes of the game, Hawaiʻi fans witnessed a 14-0 run with back-to-back scores by RB I'Tavius Mathers and WR Richie James. However, a fumble recovered by Jahlani Tavai on the next Blue Raider possession led to a quick UH touchdown catch by Metuisela ʻUnga. UH forced another turnover after Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill's pass was intercepted by UH CB Jalen Rogers. A one-yard rush by RB Steven Lakalaka tied the game up at 14-14 before the end of the 2nd quarter. Hawaiʻi scored on their next two possessions with a two-yard rush by QB Dru Brown followed by a 68-yard pick six by S Trayvon Henderson. The Blue Raiders fought back with a quick score by WR Ty Lee while the Warriors finished the first half with a 39-yard TD pass to WR Marcus Kemp. UH's first third quarter drive ended with a field goal and Middle Tennessee's Stockstill hit WR Dennis Andrews for a 10-yard TD of their own. Another ʻUnga TD made a 45-28 UH advantage before the end of the third. Middle Tennessee wasn't quite ready to give up as they quickly shortened their deficit with another Lee catch and Hawaiʻi answered with a 4-yard pass to WR Dylan Collie to make the final score 52-35.

The most notable play of the night was UH's fake punt where WR Makoa Camanse-Stevens completed a 21-yard pass to WR Ammon Barker to achieve a first down. All of my credit goes to the center/long snapper for snapping the ball a perfect 20 yards. It looked a little something like this:


UH's Brown completed 20 of 30 passes for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Blue Raiders' Stockstill was 30 of 51 for 432 yards, 4 touchdowns and two interceptions. UH's leading rusher was Diocemy Saint Juste who recorded 25 carries for 170 yards while WR Metuisela ʻUnga led the team with two touchdowns in just three catches. The Warriors finish their season with a 7-7 record- the first winning season since 2010.

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