For 23 seniors on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team, Saturday’s game will be one to be remembered for a long time, as the often maligned team went out the right way in epic fashion, saying aloha to Aloha Stadium with a last-second win over Nevada-Las Vegas.
The Rebels were early 14-0 in the first quarter, when senior running back Joey Iosefa took over, stretching the wings from nine yards out for six. In the second quarter, it was Iosefa again, this time with the Tim Tebow-type jump pass to Harold Moleni to tie the ball game before the break.
In the third quarter, Diocemy Saint Juste, the fastest dude on the field, uses the “deek reverse” to slide 52 yards to the house, and the ‘Bows were up 10 after a Tyler Hadden field goal.
But you knew the Rebels weren’t going to make this easy, as they have a 14-point surge in the fourth quarter, capped off when quarterback Blake Decker hits Kamehameha Schools grad Maika Mataele for the score, making it 28-24, Rebels.
But the UH seniors wouldn’t be denied on their night, as the ‘Bows drove the ensuing possession 82 yards in nine plays, setting up Iosefa for a one-yard TD run.
The Rebels answered back, marching back 75 yards in 7 plays, with Decker hitting Baylor Barnhill for what looked like the game winner, leading 35-31.
Two personal fouls on the Rebels gave the ‘Bows the ball at midfield with 15 seconds left in the game. First, Rainbow Warrior quarterback Ikaika Woolsey hits Donnie King for 22 yards. Then, with only a second left on the clock from the 20-yard line, Woolsey slides up in the pocket and fires the ball to the corner of the end zone and Marcus Kemp reels it in across the goal line.
Hawaii wins, 37-35, on a pure chicken-skin moment.
Iosefa ended up with a career-high 219 yards and two running touchdowns, just the ninth running back in UH history to crack the 200-yard mark in a game.
The Rainbow Warriors finish their season next Saturday at Fresno State.