In a roller coaster of a game the University of Hawai'i pulled off a thrilling 41-36 win over UT Martin Saturday night in the home opener at Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.
After dropping their first two games of the season nearly a world away from the islands, home field proved the remedy for the Rainbow Warriors who improved to 1-2, using a big second half to rally past the Skyhawks.
UH scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to erase a 10-point deficit, but needed another touchdown late in the fourth to capture its first win of the year and hand Nick Rolovich his first win as UH head coach.
Ikaika Woolsey overcame three interceptions by throwing a career-high four touchdowns, including a 63-yard pass to Marcus Kemp that gave UH the lead for good with 6:43 left in the game. All three of Kemp's catches went for touchdown as the senior also finished with a game-high 103 receiving yards. Saturday marked Kemp's first 100-yard receiving game of the year and seventh of his career.
The first half was a rough one for UH, who managed just five first downs and 107 yards of total offense. UTM's Troy Cook completed just four passes in the first half but two of the them went for touchdowns and the Skyhawks racked up 159 yards on the ground to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room at the break.
Things didn't get much better for UH early in the second half with an interception on its first possession. The Skyhawks capitalized with a 26-yard Jamiee Bowe touchdown run on a 4th-and-2 play to go up 24-14.
However, UH roared back with scores on back-to-back possession, making the most of big plays. After Ammon Barker recovered a punt tipped off a UTM player for a short field, Diocemy Saint Juste rolled in from 24 yards to trim the deficit. Kemp followed with a 33-yard touchdown reception over the middle, dragging a defender the final 10 yards and UH to a 28-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A Metuisela 'Unga touchdown catch, the first of his career, gave the Bows a 35-24 lead early in the fourth. However, the Skyhawks wouldn't cave, responding with 14 straight points, including a 65-yard scoring strike and a dramatic 79-yard punt return with 9:02 left in the game to take a 36-35 lead.
That set the stage Kemp's heroics whose 63-yard touchdown from Woolsey also put him over the century mark in receiving yards. With time winding down, Jalen Rogers capped a final UH defensive stand with an interception, following key sacks by Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea and Trayvon Henderson to hold off the upset-minded Skyhawks.
The Rainbow Warriors next face their second Pac-12 team this season when they play at Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 24. Kickoff is set for 7:45 p.m. PT/4:45 p.m. HT.
Hawaii Athletics Release
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