The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors football team concluded regular-season play in thrilling fashion with a 46-40 win over Massachusetts, Saturday on Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.
With the score tied late in the fourth quarter, wideout Keelan Ewaliko broke through on a 56-yard catch-and run – the first receiving touchdown of his career – to put Hawai’i up for good with less than four minutes remaining. The Rainbow Warriors (6-7) defense then secured the win with a dramatic last stand, thwarting the Minutemen (2-10) as Rojesterman Farris II broke up a pass on 4th-and-11 play in the endzone.
With their sixth win—the program’s most since 2011—UH keeps its bowl hopes alive. UH could be selected if there aren’t enough bowl eligible teams available for the 40 bowl games. The contest also marked the final regular season event for 20 Hawaii seniors who were honored after the game in the traditional “Senior Walk” ceremony.
Quarterback Dru Brown led the Rainbow Warriors with 311 yards on 22-for-30 passing and a career-high five touchdowns. Diocemy Saint Juste topped all Rainbow Warrior rushers with 122 yards and a touchdown, giving UH some cushion in the fourth quarter with a 40-yard scamper for the score.
From the beginning, the teams set off a furious offensive pace that culminated in over 900 yards of combined total offense. UH scored on its opening drive on a 1-yard pass from Brown to tight end Dakota Torres. Brown threw two more touchdowns in the half – one to Marcus Kemp and one to Dylan Collie – as UH took a 24-13 lead into the break. With his first half performance, Kemp went over 1,000 yards on the season.
With the game seemingly under control, the Rainbow Warriors watched helplessly as Massachusetts regained the lead in the third quarter with back-to-back touchdown passes. Massachusetts first scored on a 39-yard touchdown strike before a Brown fumble set up an eerily similar touchdown strike on the left side from 27 yards out.
Nonetheless, Massachusetts held only a 26-24 advantage as Hawaii safety Trayvon Henderson blocked an extra point attempt. Henderson’s effort would prove crucial as the Rainbow Warriors tied the game at 26 following a safety, resulting from a Massachusetts fumble and recovery in their own end zone. Following the safety, Brown and Collie hooked up again to give Hawaii the 33-26 lead.
With a one-touchdown lead and facing fourth down, UH caught the Massachusetts off-guard with a successful 14-yard fake punt attempt by Benjamin Scruton. UH capitalized immediately with 40-yard run from the elusive Saint Juste to take a commanding 40-26 lead. The Minutemen, however roared back with two touchdowns in under two minutes to tie the score and set the stage for the dramatic finish.