BY JAMES JOHNSON – FRESNO, Calif.,–Hawaii improved to 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference (4-2 overall) with a dominant 49-27 win over Fresno St.
Quarterback Bryant Moniz threw for 376 yards, scoring three touchdowns. Greg Salas caught nine passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns and Alex Green ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
The warrior defense forced three interceptions, including one ran back by Jeramy Bryant for a touchdown to ice the game with ten minutes remaining.
“I think we’re getting better as a football team,” said Head Coach Greg McMackin. “Defensively, we’re getting a lot better. We’re making plays. We’re turning the ball over.”
The scoring started with Hawaii’s first offensive possession, a six-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard pass from Moniz to Salas. Hawaii went on to score five more offensive touchdowns in similar fashion, with drives of 71, 73, 62, 90, and 74 yards.
Salas added a score with 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter to retake the lead, 14-10.
“I expect myself to have games like this,” said Salas. “We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders, we’re trying to show everybody that we’ve been one of the top teams in this conference for the past years and we’re not going anywhere.”
His third touchdown came on the opening drive of the third quarter after Wide Receiver Royce Pollard fumbled the ball at the two-yard line following a 19-yard reception. The ball rolled into the End Zone where Salas dove to secure the points.
“I was just trying to block for Royce [Pollard], then I saw [the ball] pop out and I wasn’t sure if he was in or not so it’s just instinct, you just go jump on the ball. That’s football right there, you see a ball on the ground, and you go get it.”
With a 21 -10 lead, Hawaii turned to Running Back Alex Green. Hawaii entered the game ranked 117th in the nation in total rushing yards, but Green decisively reversed that trend, scoring rushing touchdowns of 38, 14, and two yards.
With the win, Hawaii starts strong in the WAC, raising expectations for a team many predicted would finish in the bottom-half of the conference.
“This is a good football team. I felt Fresno is the best team we’ve played. I think we’re starting to believe and see what we can accomplish,” said McMackin.
“We didn’t have to play superhuman to win this game, we just had to play a little better than we did last week, and that’s the same way we have to do next week.”