Hawaii dominates Houston, 28-14 in New Mexico Bowl

Hawaii dominates Houston, 28-14 in New Mexico Bowl
2020 New Mexico Bowl Champions (Source: Twitter/@HawaiiFootball)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors are bowl champions.

The ‘Bows finished 2020 with a 28-14 win over the University of Houston at the New Mexico Bowl.

And it wouldn’t be 2020 without something unusual: Due to health restrictions in New Mexico, the game was actually played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

In the battle of the two UHs, Hawaii came out of the gate dominating the game, especially on the defense where the war dogs forced three turnovers and nine tackles for loss.

After an opening drive by the ‘Bows that stalled, Penei Pavihi would get himself an interception to set up a three-yard touchdown pass from Chevan Cordeiro to Dae Dae Hunter to strike first blood.

Another Cougar offensive drive, another takeaway for the ‘Bows courtesy of Michael Washington and the offense would capitalize again with a 75-yard score by Calvin Turner on the very next play to give the home team a two score lead at the end of the first quarter.

Hawaii would continue to pour on the points in the second quarter after a 4-yard shovel pass from Chevan Cordeiro to Jonah Laulu, who usually played on the defense, played tight end for the first time this season -- 21-0 all Hawaii towards the end of the first half.

This was the first time UH has held a team scoreless going into the half since 2014.

Despite not having four of their wide receivers, the Houston offense would drive down the field to open the second half, to kill over 7 minutes off of the clock.

Houston would continue to build momentum after forcing a three and out, followed by another touchdown to cut the lead, 21-14.

After Houston’s glimmer of hope, Calvin Turner would continue to be a human highlight reel, returning a 92-yard touchdown to give Hawaii a 28-14 lead in the third quarter — Turner would be named the game’s offensive MVP with 60 yards rushing on 12 carries and 88 receiving yards.

The ‘Bows would close out the game, thanks in part to Khoury Bethley’s sack on fourth down — Bethley played lights out, notching 14 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.

The ‘Bows defense was dominant on Christmas Eve, but Mililani’s Darius Muasau was named defensive MVP with nine tackles, a sack and an interception.

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was also dealing in Texas, finishing the game completing 15 passes on 23 attempts for 136 yards, also adding 33 yards with his legs.

Cordeiro finished his season with 463 yards on the ground, becoming the first quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Michael Carter in 1991 — Carter was the signal caller in the 1992 Holiday Bowl, Hawaii’s last mainland bowl victory.

Todd Graham finishes the 2020 season with his 100th career win, giving Hawaii their third bowl win in the last four years and their first mainland bowl victory in nearly thirty years.

Hawaii finishes the season with a 5-4 record, sealing a winning season going into the off season.

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