HONOLULU On a wet and windy Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, the Utah State Aggies stood strong for three quarters but faltered down the stretch in a 52-37 loss to the 16th-ranked Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
"They just played tough. Coach (June) Jones felt that these guys would rise up and play a couple of good games this season," Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan said. "And we would be one of them because we were ranked and we had so much going for us."
Establishing the run game early, the Aggies drove 68 yards to score first on a field goal by Peter Caldwell and kept the game close through the midway point of the second quarter, thanks to a 100-yard kick return by Kevin Robinson. Breaking out with 265 all-purpose yards, Robinson paced the Aggie offense throughout the game and gave them life through his playmaking ability.
"We had Robinson make some big plays, but we needed to get him some more help," Utah State coach Brent Guy said. "He needs to continue to make big plays for us because he makes the guys around him play better."
Leading the game 13-10 early in the second quarter, the Aggies gave up 21 straight points losing momentum and the lead going into halftime.
"We didn't want to get into a scoring-fest with the big plays," Guy said. "In two quarters we gave up 42 of the 52 points, and that's what we need to get better at."
USU free safety Caleb Taylor noted that the "defense just came out flat in the second half and had some plays we needed to make, but we didn't."
Scoring a season-high 37 points, the Aggies hung with the Warriors but still allowed big plays to hurt them down the stretch.
"Coach (Guy) did a great job getting us prepared and ready to execute," quarterback Leon Jackson III said. "The seniors did a good job of getting everyone ready to go at practice. We did what we needed to do to give ourselves a chance, we just didn't come out on top."
The Aggies wound up with a season-high 370 yards of total offense in the setback.
"If we can get 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing then we'll have some chances to win some football games down the road," Guy said. "We did some things better, but we made too many mistakes in the second and third quarters. We didn't finish in the red zone, and you've got to score touchdowns to play with Hawaii. You can't kick field goals."
USU did, however, convert on fourth-down three times and won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 11 minutes. On the ground, the Aggies outrushed the Warriors, 123-47.
"We played a hard game and gave it our all," said Robinson, who had a 70-yard touchdown reception. "We showed we are a good offense that we can drive down the field against any team and that we can compete. We did that and came up with some points.
"The offense was running real well. We got good field position, and we were able to do some good things with that to score," he added. "We threw the ball a lot more than normal, and we threw deep. All week in practice we've been harpin' on finishing drives and getting it into the red zone."
USU's point total was the highest since a 41-20 win over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2003.
It wasn't enough, however, to keep the Aggies (0-6) from losing their 12th straight game. Hawaii improved to 6-0 with the win.
"We've got to be a low-risk offense as far as turnovers, and another killer was when we fumble the football. We can't give up the ball when we're driving it," Guy said. "We came out and did some good things in the first quarter, and we came in here knowing that we had to possess the football, run the clock on these guys, and keep Colt off the field."
The Aggies have an open date this week before returning to action with a pair of home games. They host Nevada on Oct. 20 and Louisiana Tech on Oct. 27.