Hawaii finishes with slips on Senior Night, beats UNLV 31-25

(Photo: Darryl Oumi, Getty)

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors lost four losing games on Senior Night Saturday. Two long touchdown plays in the second half led UH to a 31-25 win over the UNLV Rebels.

UNLV opened the game with a 9-play and 66-yard drive, but the Rebels had to settle for a 27-yard field goal. Hawaii responded immediately with a three-minute drive capped by Brayden Schager’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala.

But Hawaii only managed three first downs in the rest of the first half as the punt unit was sent out four straight. UNLV had another long drive, this time for 55 yards, and ended up with a 48-yard field goal. Before halftime, a 12-yard run by Kyle Williams and a 17-yard keeper by UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield set up Brumfield’s one-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Weimer. The Rainbow Warriors went into halftime 13-7 down.

Hawaii came out of the break by catching fire on third downs – converting four through the air on their first possession alone. Given an initial third and eighth on the third quarter’s opening drive, Schager found Phillips for 11 yards. Then Schager connected in third and tenth with Jonah Panoke for 28 yards. And in third and seventh place, Schager completed a 22-yard pass to Jalen Walthall. And matching the end of the drive, Schager met Caleb Phillips with a third-down pass from 11 yards. Schager has passed nine times and held it once to declare 10 of the last 11 games on the drive.

The Rebels regained the lead with a 42-yard field goal and took a 16-14 lead with 1:35 left.

Hawaii would quickly jump back to the front. Two snaps later, Schager hit Zion Bownes for a 55-yard touchdown pass. And three games later — the final snap of the third quarter — star Hawaii linebacker Logan Taylor intercepted Brumfield’s pass and returned it 11 yards to UNLV’s 31-yard line. That would turn into a 30-yard field goal for Matthew Shipley and give Hawaii a 24-16 lead.

With a chance to build on their lead, disaster struck for the Rainbow Warriors. Schager was exposed and UNLV linebacker Elijah Shelton completed the scoop-and-score. The two-point conversion wasn’t good, leaving the Rebels still 24-22 behind with 8:15 left.

On the next snap, Hawaii’s Tylan Hines missed a 39-yard run — but a play later he fumbled for another UH giveaway and Rebel linebacker Austin Ajiake jumped on it.

The game was at stake at UNLV’s fourth and fifth tries with 4:20 remaining. Brumfield searched for Weimer, but the pass was incomplete. Three games later, UH running back Dedrick Parson ended the game with a 34-yard touchdown run.

UNLV kept hopes alive with a 40-yard field goal with 1:08 remaining. The onside kick that followed was recovered by Hawaii to seal the 31-25 win.

Schager led the Rainbow Warriors with 16 of 27 passes for 202 yards and 3 touchdowns. Parson had 19 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown while Hines added 63 yards on nine carries. Bowens led reception attempts with 60 yards and a score on just two receptions. Taylor led the defense with 11 tackles for his fifth straight double-digit tackle game.

Hawaii improved to 3-9 overall and 2-5 in conference play. UH crushed the Rebels’ bowl hopes – UNLV fell to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the conference.

Hawaii will wrap up the 2022 season in the Bay Area on Saturday. UH travels to San Jose State with a 10:30 a.m. HT kickoff. The Spartans come off with back-to-back losses and records of 6-4 on aggregate and 4-3 in the game against Mountain West.