Louisiana Tech senior defensive end Jaylen Ferguson became the new NCAA sack leader with 46 career sacks in the team's 31-14 win over the University of Hawaiʻi Rainbow Warriors in the SoFi Hawaiʻi Bowl on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
Ferguson made 2.5 sacks to surpass Terrell Suggs' record and was also named Louisiana Tech's Most Outstanding Player of the game.
UH struggled offensively as they only managed 226 total yards. Sophomore and freshman quarterback Cole McDonald and Chevan Cordeiro combined for 17-of-34 passes for 168 yards and three interceptions. The duo was also sacked a Hawaiʻi bowl record of nine times.
"Both QB's, stood in there and took some shots. The O-Line, one of them was playing through an injury," head coach Nick Rolovich said. "...We got beat up, didn't work somewhere where you could finish the game, but I just don't see it as such a negative on our players as much as they did a great job on their defensive and defensive coordinating."
The 'Bows were also without their top wide receiver, junior John Ursua, who sat out due to a hamstring injury.
UH got past midfield on its first offensive drive, but the drive stalled and the ‘Bows punted the ball at 12:39. The Bulldogs’ first offensive drive was not productive as well, as they punted after three minutes.
The game remained scoreless until LA Tech settled for a 24 yard field goal by junior kicker Bailey Hale to put the Bulldogs up 3-0 over UH at 1:08.
On kickoff, junior wide receiver Cedric Byrd returned the ball for a big 46 yard gain to the UH 46 yard line.
Cordeiro came in to aide McDonald, but was sacked to force a three-and-out to end the first quarter.
LA Tech sophomore wide receiver Adrian Hardy fumbled the ball at 11:41 as UH junior defensive lineman Kendall Hune recovered it at the UH 29.
On the next play, Cordeiro threw a 22 yard pass to Byrd as he went to the LA Tech 49 yard line. Cordeiro proceeded to rush for 14 yards for another first down.
After McDonald entered for a brief series, Cordeiro threw a 24 yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jason-Matthew Sharsh at 8:20. The PAT by Ryan Meskell was good to lead 7-3 over the Bulldogs.
Smith’s pass was intercepted at the UH 34 yard line by Hune at 6:28. The ‘Bows got the ball back, but Cordeiro was sacked twice as they punted the ball again.
Hune was named as Hawaiʻi's most outstanding of the game for his fumble recovery and interception.
"It was just, ball player trying to make a play for my team," Hune said. "I've had an interception every year since my junior year of high school, playing defensive line so I was just thinking, I just had good ball handling skills."
Senior defensive lineman Zeno Choi forced a fumble, and junior linebacker Kana’i Picanco recovered and returned it for 11 yards.
On the next drive, LA Tech had a face mask penalty for 15 yards to its 24 yard line, and UH had a persona foul to LA Tech’s 39 yard line. The penalties continued as UH had a personal foul on the next play that set them back 15 yards to the UH 46, and an unsportsmanlike penalty that set them back another 15.
UH led 7-3 over LA Tech heading into halftime.
The ‘Bows opened the third quarter with big defensive stops to force a turnover on downs. UH got the ball at its own 30 yard line.
Cordeiro was intercepted by Bulldogs senior defensive tackle Jordan Baldwin at the LA Tech 16 yard line, and returned it for 18 yards.
LA Tech sophomore running back Israel Tucker rushed for a five yard touchdown. Hale hit the PAT to put the Bulldogs up 10-7 over the ‘Bows at 10:27.
LA Tech junior running back Jaqwis Dancy broke loose for a big 58 yard touchdown, and Hale hit the PAT again to extend the Bulldogs’ lead 17-7 over the ‘Bows at 4:44.
Smith threw a deep 54 yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Adrian Hardy. Smith’s pass set up his own four yard rush at 0:55. The Bulldogs extended their lead 24-7 over the ‘Bows.
LA Tech’s punt was blocked as sophomore defensive back Eugene Ford returned it for nine yards to the Bulldogs’ 28 yard line.
McDonald found Armstrong-Brown for a seven yard touchdown at 6:14 to trail 24-14 against the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs running back Kam McKnight rushed for 39 yards to extend their lead 31-14 over the ‘Bows with 3:45 left in the game. That sealed the deal for the Bulldogs' 31-14 win over the 'Bows.
UH finished the season 8-6, 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference while LA Tech finished 8-5, 5-4 in Conference USA.
"Tomorrow we wake up, and we start playing for the future," Rolovich said.