Hawaii delivers milestone win vs. Houston in New Mexico Bowl
Hawaii turned a pair of first-quarter interceptions into touchdowns, and running back Calvin Turner Jr. caught a long touchdown pass and returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a 28-14 win over Houston on Christmas Eve in the New Mexico Bowl.
The game was moved from Albuquerque to Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, due to COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico.
Hawaii (5-4) intercepted Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune three times, with Penei Pavihi’s pick setting up quarterback Chevan Cordeiro’s short touchdown pass to Dae Dae Hunter.
It was the first of three first-half touchdown passes for Cordeiro, who threw for 136 yards
and set up a second-quarter score with a 52-yard run.
Right after Michael Washington picked off a Tune pass, Cordeiro found an open Turner over the middle and Turner turned it into a 75-yard touchdown. Hawaii led 21-0 at halftime after Cordeiro shovel-passed to defensive end-tight end Jonah Laulu for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The score marked the first time Hawaii had held an opponent without a point in the first half since 2014.
Houston (3-5) was without as many as 16 players due to COVID, opt-outs for the NFL draft and academics. Four of those were wide receivers.
The Cougars’ offense woke up in the third quarter with consecutive touchdown drives. Tune threw touchdown passes to Nathaniel Dell and Christian Trahan to make it a one-score game.
But Turner took the kickoff after the Trahan touchdown all the way to the end zone, and the Warriors prevented a Cougars comeback the rest of the way.
The Cougars’ last chances to make it a seven-point game were lost on a coverage sack by Warriors Khoury Bethley, who dropped Tune for his second sack of the game with 3:26 to play, and Hawaii’s defense forcing a turnover on downs.
Tune finished with 216 passing yards. He left the game after the late sack and was replaced by Logan Holgorsen, son of Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Hawaii played in just its third-ever mainland United States bowl game. Head coach Todd Graham won the 100th game of his career as a college head coach, in his first season guiding the Warriors.
–Field Level Media