The University of Hawai'i football team ran into a litany of misfortune in a 40-20 loss to UNLV Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Warriors dropped to1-2 on the season with their second straight road loss.
The Warriors got off to a slow start and could never get in a gear. UH gave up 17 unanswered points to start the game and coughed up the ball four times in the loss. Meanwhile, the Rebels (1-2), who suffered a pair of blowout losses on the road to start the season, could do little wrong in its home opener despite being a heavy underdog.
Phillip Payne, who stung UH with a game-winning touchdown in Las Vegas two years ago, scored a pair of touchdowns, while Tim Cornett added two scores on the ground in the win. The Rebels out-gained the Warriors 365-290, while UH posted just six yards on the ground.
UH quarterback Bryant Moniz completed 20-of-36 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns for the Warriors. Justin Clapp, who made his first career start in place of an injured Jeremiah Ostrowski, caught nine balls for two touchdowns, while fellow slot receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann racked up a career high 136 yards on nine receptions. Senior Aaron Brown led the UH defense with 12 tackles and 3.5 tackles-for-loss.
The Rebels bolted out with 17 unanswered points, including an 80-yard run by Cornett on his first carry of the game late in the first quarter. When quarterback Caleb Herring found Payne in the end zone for a 6-yard strike, a stunned Warrior squad found themselves down by three scores in just a little more than a quarter of action.
Clapp finally got UH on the board with a 10-yard catch from Bryant Moniz with 6:11 left in the half. The sophomore's first career touchdown as a Warrior cut the Rebel lead to 17-7, a score which would stand into the locker room.
UH looked to start a comeback by getting the ball first in the second half, but instead the team went on a downward spiral. The team fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and the Rebels cashed in right after with a Caleb Herring 31-yard pass to Payne.
It was the first of three straight possessions in which the Warriors fumbled the ball away as UNLV eventually took a 27-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
UH made it 27-14 on a Clapp's second touchdown of the evening-a 24-yard reception at the 5:04 mark-to make it a 27-14 game with 5:04 left in the third quarter. But that would be as close as it would get as UNLV scored 13 unanswered points to seal the victory.