Boise State has owned the University of Hawaii for so long, nobody outside the Warriors locker room gave them much of a shot against the Mountain West Conference’s marquee program.
So, when the Warriors rallied from 23 points down to make it a one-possession game with five minutes left on a 4-yard touchdown catch by Jared Smart and a 2-point conversion by Calvin Turner, the Broncos must have wondered who they were playing on this Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
But a huge third-down throw from Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier to Khalil Shakir and a third-down keeper by Bachmeier that had to be reviewed and measured before confirmed, were enough for the Broncos to secure a 40-32 victory as rain fell in the closing moments.
Bachmeier completed 21 of 31 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown. Andrew Van Buren managed a pair of 11-yard touchdown runs en route to 113 yards on 27 bruising carries and the MWC’s top special teams player in Avery Williams showed why with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score that proved to be the difference in the game as the Broncos are now 4-0 in league play and 4-1 overall.
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Hawaii dropped to 2-3 overall and 2-3 in MWC play, despite some last-second heroics by sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. He hit 25 of 48 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Turner also had a breakout performance with three touchdowns and a pair of successful 2-point tries, but it just wasn’t enough. Turner had 12 rushes for 32 yards and a score. He also caught fives passes for 65 yards and two scores to make a game of it late.
Down 40-17 to start the fourth quarter, Cordeiro and Co. marched down the field to try to get back in it. The Warriors put together an eight-play, 72-yard drive that ended on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cordeiro to Turner, his third score of the game. It cut Boise’s advantage to 40-24 after Matt Shipley added the PAT with 9:56 remaining in the period. UH cut it to eight with 4:56 left on a 4-yard TD pass from Cordeiro to Smart as Turner’s 2-point conversion rounded out the scoring.
Trailing 19-3 to start the second half, Hawaii got the ball first and made the most of it with a crisp 13-play, 87-yard drive capped off with a 1-yard run by Turner. Hawaii opted to go for 2, but Cordeiro was short on the keeper to make it 19-9 with 11:09 left in the third quarter.
Fifteen seconds later, it was 26-9 as Boise State after Williams took the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown. Hawaii’s special teams are not very good. The kickers are erratic and the coverage guys are slow, and teams have managed to exploit both in all five games this season. That play took the air out of the balloon for UH.
The offense followed with a predictable three-and-out and Williams stuck it to UH once again, this time returning a punt 36 yards to the UH 26. Three running plays later — that weren’t shown live locally because of a dropped in Bank of Hawaii commercial — Van Buren scored from 11 yards out to make it 33-9 with 8:18 left in the quarter.
Hawaii put together another good drive and scored on a wonderful pass from Cordeiro to Turner, who tight roped up the sidelines for a 36-yard touchdown. It was his second score of the game. He converted the 2-point try to make it 33-17 with 5:36 left in the high-scoring third quarter.
Boise State struck quickly on a 43-yard pass play from Bachmeier to Stefan Cobbs to the UH 36. Four plays later, Van Buren scored from 11 yards out for the second time in the quarter to extend the Broncos’ advantage to 40-17 with 3:43 left.
It didn’t look like it would be that high of a score based on the first half. Tied at 3-3 to start the second quarter, Boise State finally put together a good drive. It began in the first quarter and ended in the second with a 43-yard field goal by Jonah Dalmas, his second of the game, to make it 6-3 with 10:09 left in the half. The Broncos went 55 yards on 12 plays and should have had a touchdown but wideout C.T. Thomas dropped the ball 3 yards clear of Kai Kaneshiro to force the Broncos to settle for three.
Hawaii got a pick midway through the second quarter on a long attempt by Bachmeier, but the defense forced a three-and-out to keep the score at 6-3 and then gave up a 34-yard punt return to Williams as UH outkicked its slow-developing coverage. UH lacks speed on special teams and it shows each week as the Broncos began their drive at the UH 44.
Two plays later, Bachmeier found Shakir clear down the middle for a 38-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was blocked to give Boise State a 12-3 lead with 5:12 left in the second quarter. Once again, the UH offense couldn’t get anything going against a tough Broncos defense. The three-and-out led to a punt with four minutes left, plenty of time for Boise State to stick another one in the end zone.
And that’s exactly what the Broncos did on a trick play pass from Thomas to Shakir from 3 yards out to extend their lead to 19-3 with 54 seconds left in the half. It was Shakir’s second touchdown grab of the quarter.
The Hawaii defense forced a pair of three-and-outs to start the game against a potent Boise State offense. This year, the Broncos are good to getting off to fast starts, outscoring the competition 101-40 in the first half. The Warriors wasted the first effort, but the second one led to the first time somebody moved the sticks as Cordeiro escaped on third-and-long for a 33-yard run into Boise State territory.
From there Cordeiro mixed short quick passes with a couple of nice scampers of his own to set up third down at the Boise State 10. But the Warriors couldn’t convert and had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Matt Shipley, who entered the game hitting only four-of-eight three-pointers.
Down 3-0 with 4:36 left in the opening period, the Broncos got the ball at their own 25 for the third consecutive time to start the game. But this time Bachmeier found Thomas on a 55-yard completion deep into UH territory for their opening first down of the game. Hawaii had a chance to get the Broncos off the field, but Pritchard couldn’t make a play against Shakir on third down, setting up a first-and-goal at the 6.
But a chop-block penalty against the Broncos that probably was a missed call, led to a second-and-goal at the UH 21. The Broncos couldn’t convert, settling for a 32-yard field goal by Dalmas to tie the game at 3-3 with 1:13 left in the first quarter. It was the first time in 13 tries that the Broncos failed to score a touchdown when in the red zone.
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.