HONOLULU – In a game that was supposed to renew a big and competitive rivalry, BYU didn’t cooperate, pounding Hawaii 41-20. It appeared as if the Cougars’ focus was left on the beach for much of the first half before refocusing and completely dominating the second half of play.
The game was all but decided during the third quarter with BYU outscoring the Warriors 28-0 to enter the fourth quarter up 38-13. The fourth quarter didn’t show Hawaii putting up much of a fight with BYU finishing them off while most of their starters sat on the bench.
The first half of play was marked with missed opportunities by BYU. Two long drives by the Cougars saw them come up short due to two missed field goals by Justin Sorensen from 48 and 38 yards respectively.
Hawaii, meanwhile, made good on its first drive, going 69 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by quarterback David Graves. The team missed the ensuing extra point to go up 6-0 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
BYU responded with an 83-yard drive that ended with quarterback Riley Nelson hitting Ross Apo for a TD pass with 10:22 left in the second quarter to go up 7-6.
The Warriors managed another touchdown with 3:41 left in the half, with Graves hitting Trevor Davis with a long 79-yard pass. BYU responded with a field goal to go down 13-10 at the half.
The game changed dramatically with the 28 unanswered points by BYU in the third quarter. Nelson threw a 12-yard TD pass to Apo with 11:13 left in the third quarter for a first score.
Following the touchdown, safety Joe Sampson scooped up a fumble that was forced by Matt Putnam and Uona Kaveinga, taking it back 26 yards for six and the route was on. Bryan Kariya scored from one yard out with 4:51 left in the quarter before Nelson capped it off, completing a 38-yard TD pass to Cody Hoffman to go up 38-13 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Nelson, who was coming back from a punctured lung injury, led the Cougars with 25-37, passing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. It was an unusual game for the scrambling and scrappy QB as he did all of his work through the air, rushing for -3 yards on seven attempts.
Hoffman was again Nelson’s main target, catching 7 passes for 123 yards which included the aforementioned touchdown. Overall the Cougars gained 531 yards of total yards of total offense, while holding Hawaii to 299.
The Cougars end the regular season with a 9-3 record and will end their season in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30.