Hawai’i tops Nevada in MWC opener 38-17

Diocemy Saint Juste / Hawai'i Athletics
Diocemy Saint Juste / Hawai'i Athletics

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i opened Mountain West play with a convincing 38-17 win over Nevada, Saturday at Aloha Stadium. With the win, the Rainbow Warriors broke a nine-game conference losing streak dating back to 2014 and handed first-year head coach Nick Rolovich a victory over his former team.

UH also snapped a five-game losing streak to Nevada, where Rolovich spent the past four seasons as offensive coordinator. UH’s last victory over the Wolf Pack was against a Colin Kaepernick-led squad in 2010 in Honolulu.

Hawai’i jumped out to a 38-3 lead through three quarters behind sophomore junior quarterbackDru Brown, who made his first start. With Brown at the helm, the Warriors gashed Nevada for a season-high 566 yards of total offense and rushed for over 300 yards for the first time since 2014. After surrendering 49.2 points per game through the first four games, the UH defense produced four sacks and held Nevada to three points before the final quarter.

Junior running back Diocemy Saint Juste rushed for a career-high 205 yards, earning the No. 8 spot on UH’s all-time single-game list. The Boynton Beach, Fla., native also became the 10thplayer in school history to rush for 200 yards and the first since Joey Iosefa against UNLV in 2014. On the receiving front, tight end Metuisela ‘Unga supplied two touchdown grabs while wideout Marcus Kemp added six catches for 88 yards. Brown finished the night 15-of-18 passing for 222 yards and two scores.

Defensively, junior linebacker Russell Williams, Jr., tallied a career-high 12 tackles.

Hawai’i led 3-0 as neither team was able to generate much offense in the first quarter. The Wolf Pack turned the ball over on downs after a 7-play, 66-yard drive while the Rainbow Warriors embarked on their own promising drive, featuring a 29-yard run by Saint Juste. The drive, however, stalled in the red zone after a pair of penalties. It was the first time this season that Hawai’i held a lead after the first quarter.

The UH offense caught fire early in the second quarter, pushing ahead with Saint Juste, who piled up 114 yards on 10 yards by halftime. Running back Steven Lakalaka struck first on the scoreboard, punctuating an 88-yard drive with a 4-yard plunge. Later, with time winding down in the first half, ‘Unga’s twisting one-handed, highlight-reel grab for his first touchdown of the game gave the Warriors a 17-3 advantage. The scoring drive was highlighted by a 32-yard catch by wideout Makoa Camanse-Stevens. On the other side of the ball, the Hawai’i defense kept Nevada out of the end zone and held them to 62 passing yards in the first half.

UH broke the game wide open in the third quarter with three touchdown drives. Wideout John Ursua capped a 75-yard drive with a touchdown run before ‘Unga later produced his second score of the night. Sophomore Kaiwi Chung capped off the quarter with 1-yard run.

The Rainbow Warriors will be back in action for a Mountain West contest at San Jose State on Saturday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. PT/10:30 a.m. HT.

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