HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors, it appears, will not play in the 2020 Rose Bowl after all.
After opening the 2019 football season with thrilling victories over Pac-12 opponents Arizona and Oregon State ― leading Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich to playfully send out the bowl game’s logo on social media ― the University of Hawaii fell to Washington on Saturday, 52-20, for their first loss of the year.
Unlike the Wildcats and Beavers, the 23rd-ranked Huskies were popular preseason picks to compete for a conference championship, and it took the home team just three plays to demonstrate why.
“They’re a good football team,” said Hawai’i head coach Nick Rolovich follwing the game. “This is a beautiful place to play football, they have a great coach and coaching staff, and they play the game the right way.”
After two quick completions, Washington quarterback Jacob Eason found tight end Hunter Bryant ― an alumnus of the Polynesian Bowl, the high school all-star game played annually at Aloha Stadium ― for a 47-yard touchdown to put the Huskies ahead in a hurry.
Defensive captain Kaimana Padello believes miscommunication led to the the Warriors defensive struggles.
“They came out fast with a lot of tempo,” said Padello. “They showed a lot of formations we weren’t able to align correctly and of course tackling--we need to play better sound defense.”
And in a stadium known for propensity to see precipitation, Washington didn’t wait long to rain on Cole McDonald’s afternoon.
Hawaii’s starting quarterback was intercepted on the team’s second play of the game ― his sixth interception of the season ― and the Huskies scored five plays later, on a 22-yard touchdown run by Sean McGrew.
McDonald recognized the athleticism of the Husky defense, made the throwing windows smaller.
“I was having a hard time making those throws," said McDonald. “They made plays but that’s football, we just had to refocus and regroup.”
Five ended up being the number of first half touchdown drives put together by the home team, and the Huskies lept to a 38-7 lead at halftime.
Hawaii’s only touchdown of the first half came at the end of a 9-play, 82-yard scoring drive that was punctuated with an 8-yard rushing score by running back Miles Reed.
“I felt a lot of flow on the front-side so I cut back,” said Reed. "I had to balance--similar to the third leg drill, but I’m happy we got the touchdown that’s all that matters.
For a while, the drive appeared to get the Rainbow Warriors some momentum. They began the third quarter with a pair of 14-play drives ― one for 93 yards, the other for 53 yards ― that both resulted in touchdowns.
But with the score narrowed to 38-20, the Huskies tightened their belts and methodically marched down the field, scoring a touchdown on a Richard Newton run that extended their lead to 15 points.
Washington snuffed out any remaining chance of a Hawaii comeback by intercepting McDonald on Hawaii’s first possession of the fourth quarter ― McDonald’s third pick of the game ― and converting the opportunity into another touchdown that set the score at 52-20.
The Rainbow Warriors return to Halawa next Saturday for homecoming against FCS foe Central Arkansas.