HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a battle of high-scoring offenses the University of Hawaii football team defeated San Jose State, 42-40 Saturday in a Mountain West shootout at Aloha Stadium.
With the win, the Rainbow Warriors (6-4, 3-3 MW) captured the inaugural Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy, which was created earlier this year in honor of the legendary head coach.
The victory kept UH’s West Division title hopes alive with two conference games remaining. In his first start of the season and second of his career, redshirt freshman Chevan Cordeiro played a near perfect game.
The former St. Louis Crusader tossed for 309 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 55 yards and two more scores.
Cordeiro addressed the media following the game and said he found out he would be starting against San Jose St. just the day before.
“Coach Rolo called me last night," said Cordeiro. “Coach told me that I was going to start and I was prepared.”
The decision to bench Cole McDonald and insert Cordeiro into the starting lineup was one that UH head coach Nick Rolovich did not take lightly.
“It was probably the toughest decision in my coaching career,” said Rolovich following the game. “By numbers you could be taking the offensive player of the conference off of the field, I respect Cole McDonald so much for the way that he handled it, and I thought Chevan played great.”
The game was a back-and-forth affair as both teams did not punt once throughout the evening. There were six lead changes in the first two quarters alone with the Spartans taking a 23-21 advantage into the locker room after Matt Mercurio’s 43-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half.
The Warriors nearly retook the lead on Cordeiro’s Hail Mary to end the half but the ball slipped right through the hands of 6′5 wide receiver Nick Mardener as the final seconds ticked off the clock before intermission.
Cordeiro directed a touchdown drive to open the second half to give the Warriors the lead and they would never look back. Both teams traded scores, however, the UH defense held the Spartans to four field goals, the latter of which closed the lead to 28-26 near the end of the third quarter.
UH defensive back Cortez Davis credited the defense for holding the Spartans to field goals, in key moments of the game.
“Holding them to three points in situations was big,” said Davis. “That came from practice.”
Hawaii extended its lead in the fourth quarter to 35-26 on a Jared Smart 5-yard touchdown catch but the Spartans answered with a 91-yard drive, capped by a 40-yard pass from Love to Baily Gaither.
However on UH’s ensuing possession, Cordeiro directed a 12-play, 85-yard drive that sealed the win.
UH wide receiver Jojo Ward hauled in seven catches for 170 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns.
Running back Miles Reed also topped the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career with 124 yards on 17 carries. His 4-yard touchdown run gave the Warriors a 21-20 lead with 2:37 left in the first half.
The UH offense finished with 509 yards of total offense, including 200 yards on the ground. The Warriors reached 200 yards rushing for the third consecutive game, the first time that has happened since 1994.
Hawaii will next head to Las Vegas for their final road game of the season when it takes on UNLV on Saturday, Nov. 16. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m. PT/11:00 a.m. HT. At stake is the Island Showdown Trophy, which UH reclaimed last season.