Hawaii football rides hot start to 45-31 win at New Mexico

Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald sprinted to the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown ahead of New Mexico's Brandon Burton in the first quarter of the Rainbow Warriors' 45-31 win on Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday. / Associated Press photo by Andres Leighton

With the possibility of postseason play exiting the stage with a loss, Hawaii knew today’s football game at New Mexico was a must win. And that’s exactly what the Rainbow Warriors did, 45-31 over the Lobos in the hosts’ 95th homecoming game in Albuquerque, N.M.

The victory leveled Hawaii’s Mountain West Conference record at 2-2 and raised its overall mark to 5-3, still two wins shy of playing during the holidays. The Lobos dropped to 2-6 for the season and 0-4 in league play. They have now lost five in a row and likely put their head coach’s job in jeopardy.

That’s not the case for UH main man Nick Rolovich, whose team was ready from the outset as Hawaii snapped a seven-game losing streak to New Mexico dating back to 1993. Hawaii scored three touchdowns in the opening period, the first on a 76-yard scamper by quarterback Cole McDonald, the second on an interception return of 14 yards by linebacker Solomon Matautia and the third on a 54-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to wideout Kumoku Noa to set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.

McDonald completed 17 of 30 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown. He also had two scoring runs, including a 1-yarder in the second period. He rushed for 140 yards on nine carries. He was the first UH quarterback to rush more than 100 yards since Bryant Moniz vs. Colorado in 2011. UH running back Miles Reed also scored from 1 yard out in the second quarter as UH built a comfortable 35-3 lead at the half.

Hawaii ran the ball for 192 yards in the first half en route to 251 for the game. It was a much more balanced attack than you normally see from a run-an-shoot team. Reed carried the ball 16 times for 97 yards and the one score.

The Warriors got the ball first to start the third quarter after building its largest road halftime lead in school history, but the drive died on a pick by McDonald. The Lobos took advantage on a 67-yard touchdown run by Ahmari Davis to cut the margin to 35-10 with 11:02 remaining in the third. He led all rushers with 200 yards on 16 carries and two scores. New Mexico quarterback Tevaka Tuioti hit 23 of 40 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, including the pick-six.

Midway through the period, Chevan Cordeiro came in as the signal-caller and he quickly led the Warriors down the field that resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Ryan Meskell to make it 38-10 with 2:56 remaining in the third. McDonald came back in to start the fourth quarter and led Hawaii into New Mexico territory where the Warriors spent most of the day. After a 33-yard run by Cole, Cordeiro came back in and threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lincoln Victor to give UH a commanding 45-10 lead.

New Mexico rallied for three touchdowns over the last 10 minutes on a 19-yard run by Davis, and two scoring passes by Tuioti of 9 yards to Anu Somoye and 59 yards to Jordan Kress to make it 45-31. Hawaii’s Ikem Okeke intercepted a pass at the UH 5 late to secure the win.


  1. Warrior Dave October 26, 2019 2:02 pm

    Good win to stop the slide. My one concern is not preparing Cordeiro to be a good back up. He only played only 1-2 series when UH was up big. He needs time with the starters in order to develop and be ready. So the 3rd stringer comes in and New Mexico comes back to make it close. Offense only scored 10 points in second half. Coming home with so many more questions and not much confidence for Fresno State.

  2. H-Man October 26, 2019 3:13 pm

    On the road, a good win. Was just setting up to check on scores on cbssports with UH starting on their 24 yd line when suddenly 6 flashes. What? What just happened? ‘Then it shows C McDonald 76 yd run. What? You got to be kidding. He ran from scrimmage for a 76-yd TD. Good omen. Then I see a little later the score flashed to 13. Again what!!! Turns out S Matautia had a 14-yd pick-6, It was a good day for Warriors.

  3. wayoutwest October 27, 2019 12:04 am

    How much playing time does Cordeiro need for crying out loud? He definitely played at least two series and part of another. He got plenty of action this game and the results were still promising.

    As for the backups giving up scores so easily, at least the coaches have game film on tape to show what the young defenders did wrong. The game was never truly in jeopardy, so it will be a good learning tool for the young guys, particularly the secondary… yikes!

  4. Mauka Warrior October 27, 2019 6:24 am

    #3. I also think it was a good idea to get the 3rd team secondary some reps, and rest the 1’s and 2’s a bit. It was painful watch, but necessary. I think Chevan looks good when he does play, and I like when Justin gets some reps.

  5. UHBacker October 28, 2019 9:04 am

    Great job almost giving up the -10 cover and costing all your fans $$$

Comments are closed.