It took until the very last game and the very last quarter of the season for the hapless University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors to notch their first win 49-42 in Honolulu. However, it didn’t come easy as the hard-charging Black Nights of Army ran out of time after a furious rally that saw the Cadets score 35 points in the second half.
Passed to a big lead - ran to win
The Warriors and second-year head coach Norm Chow had a miserable season that had the men of Manoa on the short end of close games this year. Yet, this time the Warriors got off to a fast start and a 28-7 lead at halftime. Senior quarterback Sean Schroeder threw three first half touchdowns and it appeared Hawaii would finally earn their first win easily. Schroeder ended up throwing for 322 yards with senior wide receiver Chris Gant leading the team in receptions with eight catches for 116 yards.
However, it was the Rainbow Warriors running game that took charge and helped a balanced offense all night. Hawaii had two 100 yard rushers with Joey Iosefa pounding out a game-leading 154 yards for the night. Iosefa averaged nearly 150 yards a game over the past four contests. He essentially didn’t play any other games this year. Freshman Steven Lakalaka had his first 100 game of his young career with 104 yards on the ground against the Black Nights.
Still, Army made it interesting by scoring 21 points in the third quarter and another 14 in the fourth. Of course, the Cadets leaned on the nation’s leading rushing attack and ended up with 254 yards on the ground, but that was 50 yards below their average per game. Army doesn’t normally throw the ball a lot but they did which added another 152 yards in the air to keep them in the game.
With the aforementioned three touchdowns in the third quarter, the Black Nights tied the game at 28 before the Rainbow Warriors ran for a couple touchdowns and stayed ahead for good. This was only the third meeting all-time between these two schools with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors winning all three.
A poignant moment happened at the beginning of the game when wideout Scott Harding left the game, leaving the team with only 10 players. This was done as part of a missing Warrior formation due to the drowning of a teammate, Willi Wilson, earlier in the day at the southeastern end of Oahu. By the way, it was notable that 22 seniors played their last game for the men of Manoa.
Where from here
So the season ends for Hawaii at 1-11 as they escaped their worse record - dating back to the 1990s, which was a dark time for the program. Norm Chow is 4-20 since he took over at the helm for the Rainbow Warriors. As much as Chow wanted to establish a ground game when he took over, it actually was the passing attack that kept the team close in games this year. In fact, Hawaii is in the Top 20 nationally for passing yards per game averaging over 300 yards per contest.
The good news is they seemed to have found a balance over the last part of the season on offense; so, a healthy Iosefa could offer the Warriors something to look forward to in 2014. The defense, which some thought might be the strength of the team this year, struggled and allowed almost 40 points per game.
2014 will certainly start with coach Chow on the hot seat. The offense appears headed in the right direction but the defense needs help. If they can win some of the close games they lost, more wins will come. The defense will have to improve while the offense continues to develop.
For now, Mahalo.
Additional source: Mountain West Conference