The triple threat of Air Force’s Mike Schmidt, Timothy Jackson, and Kadin Remsberg proved to be too much for the University of Hawai‘i football team. The trio accounted for seven touchdowns, effectively outscoring the Rainbow Warriors (4-3, 1-2 Mountain West Conference) all on their own.
Schmidt, who entered the game without a touchdown to his name, racked up four scores, three of which came on the ground. He finished with 147 passing yards with 1 touchdown, and 120 rushing yards for 3 rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, on the ‘Bows side, quarterback Cole McDonald surpassed former ‘Bow Dan Robinson on the all-time UH list for career passing yards. The redshirt junior now stands in fourth place in program history with 6,181 career passing yards.
The ‘Bows opened the game strong with four first downs in their first six offensive plays. McDonald completed passes of 14, 18, and 13 yards to receivers Jason-Matthew Sharsh, Jojo Ward, and Jared Smart. Redshirt sophomore running back Miles Reed joined in with a 10-yard rush to bring the ‘Bows into the red zone on the opening drive. The drive stalled from there however. An incompletion led to an offensive pass interference, which then led to a sack on McDonald. Hawai’i ultimately settled for a field goal, converted by senior kicker Ryan Meskell from 41 yards out.
Air Force, meanwhile, fared better on their opening drive. The Falcons racked up four first downs of their own, but unlike the ‘Bows, they managed to punch the ball into the endzone on a 2-yard Kadin Remsberg rush. Air Force starting quarterback DJ Hammond III injured his throwing shoulder on a QB run, and was replaced by Mike Schmidt. The Falcons defense then did their job, forcing a Hawai’i three and out.
The ‘Bows defense responded by forcing a 4th and short, but an offsides penalty extended the Air Force drive. The possession carried the game into the second quarter. On the first play of the second frame, Schmidt completed a 39-yard pass to tight end Kade Waguespack. Waguespack was caught by ‘Bows DB Khoury Bethley at the 1-yard line. Waguespack injured his knee on the tackle. On the next play, Schmidt ran the ball into the endzone for his first career touchdown.
Down two scores, the Rainbow Warriors needed a big response. They certainly got it. After a 14-yard completion to Smart to open the drive, McDonald found junior receiver Melquise Stovall down the field for a 59-yard touchdown to cut into the deficit. Their efforts were undone however, as the defense was gashed by Air Force. Schmidt’s 75-yard touchdown completion was the first touchdown pass of his career. The two scoring drives combined for less than two minutes of game clock used.
The next ‘Bows drive proved to be much longer. After an extended drive that saw four first downs and over seven minutes used, Hawai‘i was forced to settle for a field goal. Meskell, who looks to have put his early season kicking troubles behind him, knocked in a 27-yard field goal to make it a one score game.
After giving up a 64-yard run to Air Force’s Timothy Jackson, the Falcons charged into the endzone for a touchdown. The ‘Bows responded to the Air Force score with a scoring drive of their own. Hawai‘i needed only four plays. A 32-yard completion to Ward was followed up by back-to-back 17-yard completions to Smart. On the fourth play of the drive, McDonald found Stovall for a 5-yard touchdown to keep the deficit at 8 heading into halftime.
After the explosive first half, the start to the back half of the game proved to be more of a slugfest. Air Force was the only team to score in the frame, driving down the field and using nearly eight minutes of clock on the opening drive of the half. The drive resulted in a Falcons touchdown, pushing their lead to 35-20.
With just 15 minutes to turn the game around, the ‘Bows got to work. McDonald found Ward for a 10-yard touchdown completion on the first play of the final quarter, but the two point conversion failed, keeping it a two possession game. The effort proved to be fruitless, as the ‘Bows defense gave up a 61-yard rushing touchdown to Falcons quarterback Schmidt.
The carnage continued. On the next Hawai’i drive, McDonald coughed up the football after dancing around the pocket. Air Force jumped on the ball for the first turnover of the game. The Falcons turned that opportunity into points, as Schmidt ran the ball into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown, his third rushing touchdown and fourth overall.
The gap only widened from there. After driving the ‘Bows down to the 4-yard line, McDonald’s pass was tipped up into the air by a defender’s knee and into the waiting hands of Air Force defensive back Milton Bugg III. With nothing but green ahead of him, Bugg took the ball all the way back to the end zone for a 92-yard interception return. The score effectively ended the game, as the second string for both sides took over for the remainder of the contest.
The loss drops the Rainbow Warriors to 4-3 on the season. It also marks the second consecutive conference loss, after a promising start to the conference slate against Nevada. Hawai‘i will be back on the road for another conference showdown against the New Mexico Lobos.
The ‘Bows travel to Albuquerque to take on New Mexico at Dreamstyle Stadium on Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. HST.