RENO, Nev. – Nevada got a solid performance from a redshirt freshman quarterback and the Wolf Pack defense forced six turnovers to hand the University of Hawai’i football team a 31-9 loss in the Mountain West opener for both teams Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
In his first career start, Tyler Stewart threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns to give Nevada (2-2, 1-0 MW) its third straight win in the series over the Rainbow Warriors (0-3, 0-1 MW). UH meanwhile, turned the ball over six times—all in the second half. Both of Nevada’s second-half touchdowns were off UH turnovers.
Hawai’i trailed just 17-9 at the break, but failed to score in the second half. It was the second straight game that UH was shutout after the break, following its 33-14 loss at Oregon State two weeks ago.
It was a physical game that saw four UH starter knocked out of the game, including quarterback Taylor Graham. Sean Schroeder came in relief late in the second quarter, while reserves Jeremy Higgins and Ikaika Woolsey also saw action behind center.
UH got off to strong start, forcing a three-and-out on defense then marching down field on a 13-play drive that ended with a Tyler Hadden field goal. The Wolf Pack, however, responded with 17 unanswered points off of three drives of 70-plus yards. Two of those drives were fueled by long pass plays that set up a pair of Stewart touchdown tosses to tight end Kolby Arendse.
The Rainbow Warriors continued to move the ball in the first half but a pair of UH drives stalled in Wolf Pack territory with failed fourth-down conversions. UH took some momentum into the locker room with a touchdown drive in its final possession of the second quarter. Schroeder came off the bench in place of an injured Graham and in his first series threw a 21-yard score to Chris Gant to make it 17-9 deficit at the half.
UH, however, got off to a rough start in the second half as an interception deep in its own territory set up a short field for the Wolf Pack. Nevada cashed in five plays later on a Brandon Wimberly 7-yard catch from Stewart as Nevada retained its double-digit lead. Another UH turnover led to a Wolf Pack touchdown early in the fourth quarter when a Brock Hekking sack caused a UH fumble that was returned two yards by Alex Bertrando.
UH ended the contest with a 376-340 yard advantage but couldn’t overcome a rash of turnovers. Freshman Diocemy Saint Juste finished with 82 yards rushing on 12 carries, nearly all of which came in the first half.
*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*
The Rainbow Warriors will play their first home game in a month when they host Fresno State on Saturday, Sept. 28