Rainbow Warriors to face Western Carolina in home opener this weekend

Jeremiah Pritchard

The University of Hawai’i football team is in search of its first 2-0 start since 2009 when it hosts Western Carolina of the Football Championship Subdivision, Saturday, Sept. 2 at Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.

The Rainbow Warriors (1-0) enter the contest riding a four-game win streak dating back to last season following a come-from-behind 38-35 victory over UMass last week in Amherst, Mass. UH scored the final 10 points of the game, including the game-winning touchdown pass from Dru Brown to Metuisela ‘Unga with 48 seconds remaining.

Western Carolina (0-0) is a member of the FCS’s Southern Conference. The Catamounts finished 2-9 last season under head coach Mark Speier, who begins his fifth season in 2017.

The meeting is the first between the schools.

Game #2 
Who: Hawai’i (1-0) vs. Western Carolina (0-0)
When: Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017
Time: 6:00 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O’ahu
Stadium: Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium (50,000)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV (Spectrum Ch. 255/HD 1255 and Hawaiian Telcom Ch. 969) with Robert Kekaula (play-by-play), Rich Miano (analyst), and Scott Robbs (sidelines).
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game live with Bobby Curran (play-by-play), John Veneri (analyst), and Mark Veneri (sidelines). Chris Hart and Gary Dickman host the “Countdown To Kickoff” beginning at 4:00 p.m. HT, and also the halftime show. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KPUA on the Big Island, KTOH on Kaua’i, and KNWJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Video Streaming: The game will be distributed outside the state of Hawai’i via the Mountain West Network and through the MW’s digital media partner Stadium on http://www.WatchStadium.com.
Audio Streaming: ESPN1420am.com/Sideline Hawaii app
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Series Information: First meeting.

Promotions: Bank of Hawaii is the game sponsor and will distribute 7,500 poncho ball keychains (available at all stadium gates) and award 50,000 Hawaiian Airline Miles during the halftime promotional contest (register at Gate 3).  One lucky fan will compete in the “Bank of Hawaii Field Goal Kick” promotion during pre-game (register at Gate 3) and a UH student will compete in the “Bank of Hawaii Quarterback Challenge” for the chance to win a Vacations Hawaii Trip to Las Vegas during the first timeout of the fourth quarter. Fans are encouraged to visit the Xtreme Fun Zone before the game in the parking lot across from the stadium ticket office. Also, register at Gate 4 or 6 to win the “Best Seats In the House,” compliments of Papa John’s Pizza Hawaii and NAPA. The Farmers Hawaii Supa Bowzooka will be launching T-shirts into the stands between the first and second quarters.

Game Storylines: Saturday’s meeting is the first between the schools…UH enters the contest having won its last four games dating back to last season. The four-game win streak is the longest since the 2010 team won six straight…A win on Saturday would be UH’s third straight home-opening victory and mark its first 2-0 start since 2009…UH has won its last 14 games against FCS teams dating back to 2001. UH’s last loss to an FCS team was the 2000 season opener to Portland State, 45-20..One week after UH made its longest trip in school history with a season-opening trek to Amherst, Mass., Western Carolina will make its longest trip for this week’s match-up at Aloha Stadium…Western Carolina suffered its first losing season since 2013 (1-10) with a 2-9 record in 2016, including an 0-6 mark in road games…UH quarterback Dru Brown threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-38 passing and rushed for another score in the team’s season-opening win over UMass last week…Receiver John Ursua caught 12 passes for 272 yards, the fourth highest single-game receiving total in school history…WCU tailback Detrez Newsome earned first team All-America honors after eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season, finishing with 1,031 yards and 15 total touchdowns.

Hawai’i vs. the FCS
UH has won its last 14 games versus Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams. The Rainbow Warriors have out-scored their opponents 658-237 during those 14 games with an average margin of victory of 30 points. UH has topped 50 points in six of those meetings, including a 54-2 rout of Lamar in 2012. Six of UH’s seven largest margins of victory have come against FCS schools, topped by a 65-0 defeat of Prairie View A&M in 1979. The Rainbow Warriors’ last loss to an FCS team was the 2000 season opener to Portland State, 45-20. Nick Rolovich was the starting quarterback in that game and finished 28-of-57 for 367 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

UH in Home Openers
Hawai’i is 65-30-5 (.675) all-time in home openers, including a 23-19 (.548) mark in openers at Aloha Stadium. The Rainbow Warriors are 8-3 in their last 11 openers, with all three of the losses coming against ranked teams. The last time UH lost to a non-ranked team in its home opener was a 35-28 OT loss to a Florida Atlantic squad that was in year one of its Division I transition. Meanwhile, five of UH’s eight wins have come against FCS teams.

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