Rainbow Warriors fall to New Mexico

Jahlani Tavai / Hawai'i Athletics
Jahlani Tavai / Hawai'i Athletics

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i football team let its second straight home game slip away in a 28-21 loss to New Mexico on a wet and soggy Saturday evening on Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.

The wet weather neutralized both teams’ offenses. The Lobos (5-3, 3-1 MW) which featured the nation’s top-ranked rushing offense at nearly 400 per game, was held to just 237 yards while UH (4-5, 3-2 MW) came into the game averaging 36 points in Mountain West play. Hawai’i also held New Mexico to 321 total yards offense, a season-low for a UH opponent.

For the second straight home game, UH let a late turnover decide its fate. Two weeks ago, a late fumble led to a game-winning field goal by UNLV. This time around a Diocemy Saint Juste fourth quarter fumble was scooped up and returned for the eventual game-winning touchdown by the Lobos.

After UH failed to convert on fourth down in its opening possession, the Lobos capitalized with a Richard McQuarley 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. UNM tacked on another score with a 11-yard Teriyon Gipson run, marching 75-yards on nine plays on its second possession.

Down 14-0 to start the second quarter, the Warrior offense was sparked by a 23-yard scamper by Saint Juste. Dru Brown capped the scoring drive with a 6-yard rush pulling the Warriors within a score.

Just before the end of the first half, a 30-yard John Ursua punt return set up UH’s second score to tie up the game. A pass interference penalty on the Lobos gave UH 1st and goal at the 2 with :06 left. On the next play, Ursua dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone. With :02 left, the Warriors opted to line up for a field goal but holder and backup quarterback Ikaika Woolsey took the snap and hurdled a defender and leaped into the end zone. Rigoberto Sanchez then converted the extra point to tie the game at 14-14 going into the half.

Both teams failed to do much on its first three possessions of the third quarter until the Lobos ground game—which was held in check up until then—busted open with a 72-yard touchdown by Tyrone Owens.

The Warriors answered right back to tie it at 21-21 following a 4-yard touchdown run by Steven Lakalaka. It marked the seventh straight game the senior reached the end zone, tying a UH record in the Division I era which was set by Alex Green in 2010. The drive was set-up by an acrobatic 31-yard catch by Marcus Kempand a shifty 10-yard run by Saint Juste for UH’s first third down conversion in 10 attempts.

The Lobos retook the lead after a Saint-Juste fumble which was recovered by Lee Crosby and returned for a 46-yard touchdown.

On its ensuing possession, UH marched downfield, eating up nearly six minutes on the clock and driving to the UNM 6. On fourth and 1, Lakalaka was stopped a yard short giving the ball back to the Lobos with 2:29 remaining.

The Lobos ran out the clock to end the game.

Offensively, Brown finished the game going 16-28 for 173 yards and a rushing touchdown. Saint Juste led UH running for 77 yards on 17 carries with a long of 23 and an average of 4.5 yards per carry. Kemp led the ‘Bows with 89 yards receiving on eight catches.

On defense, Jahlani Tavai recorded a team-high 11 total tackles—including four solo. Tavai also recorded a pass break-up, a quarterback hurry, and a forced fumble. Malachi Mageo was right behind Tavai with 10 tackles with five solo.

The Warriors will next hit the road at San Diego State, Saturday, Nov. 5 at Qualcomm Stadium.

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