By Fred Guzman
After overcoming a potentially disastrous first half during which it commited five turnovers, Hawaii was somehow in a position to win a crucial road football contest against WAC rival San Jose State in a nationally televised gme.
But UH somehow managed to let its second chance get away, instead suffering a 28-27 loss at Spartan Stadium in a wild, sloppy affair featuring – if that’s the right word – a combined 12 turnovers, six by each team.
The Spartans took advantage of Hawaii’s string of turnovers – including three interceptions at the expense of ineffective UH quarterback Bryant Moniz — to forge a 20-7 lead at intermission that probably should have been larger.
But San Jose State then fell victim to its own miscues, allowing Hawaii to rally back for a 27-20 edge when Joey Iosefa scored on a 32-yard run early in the fourth period.
San Jose State’s Duke Ihenacho scored two points on a rare return of a blocked extra point and the Spartans put the game away when Chandler Jones caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Matt Faulkner with 36 seconds left to claim the victory.
Moniz had his worst outing of the season, completing 27 of 46 attempts for 303 yards and two scores. He also had a 74-yard run to set up a two-yard scoring plunge by Iosefa late in the third period. But Moniz’ three picks played a pivotal role in Hawaii’s setback.
UH also lost three fumbles and continued to have major problems with its kicking game. In fact, Hawaii has had six place kicks blocked in the first six games, and it appeared two more were partially deflected.
Some fans also were critical of head coach Greg McMackin for failing to go for a first down on fourth-and-inches on UH’s side of the field and instead opting to punt the ball late in the game. That allowed San Jose State to gain possession of the ball and move down the field for the game-winning score.
The loss dropped Hawaii’s records to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the WAC going into this Saturday’s home game against New Mexico State, which is coming off a 31-24 win over Idaho.
Despite a season-ending knee injury, former Leilehua High School quarterback Andrew Manley is likely to travel home for New Mexico State’s game on Saturday and serve as an honorary captain for the Aggies.
Manley, a sophomore, was the Aggies starting QB for the upset of Minnesota but suffered a season-ending knee injury on the final play of NMSU’s game with Texas-El Paso on Sept. 17. The Aggies expect Manley to be granted a medical redshirt year, giving him an additional season of eligibility.
In other weekend games involving WAC teams: Nevada routed winless New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference 49-7 and Fresno State defeated Utah State 31-21.
Fresno State is 2-0 in the WAC, with Nevada 1-0 and the surprising Spartans are 2-1 following their victory over Hawaii.