Brayden Schager threw the first Hawai‘i passing touchdown of the season, but the Rainbow Warrior football team was overpowered by New Mexico State in a 45-26 loss Saturday night.
Schager’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Walthall near the end of the third quarter ended a passing touchdown drought of nearly 15 quarters for the Rainbow Warriors (1-4), but the rushing attack on the other side by the Aggies put New Mexico State (1-4) in a position of domination, recording 353 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Conversely, the Aggies only had 81 passing yards from their starting quarterback Gavin Frakes, but Frakes’s legs put the Hawai‘i defense between a rock and a hard place for much of the game as he went for 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Schager got the start at quarterback for Hawai‘i, going 22-of-40 for 261 yards and a passing touchdown. The majority of his passing yardage and throws went to tight end Caleb Phillips, who had eight catches for 138 yards on 11 targets.
Although they were forced to call a timeout before they even took a snap, the Hawai‘i offense went down the field on its opening drive, capping it with a one-yard touchdown by Dedrick Parson.
New Mexico State countered with a 27-yard touchdown run by Star Thomas on fourth down on its next drive. The Aggies took the lead after forcing a Hawai‘i three-and-out on its next drive, scoring on Frakes’s 20-yard rushing touchdown.
A pair of touchdown runs by New Mexico State’s Jamoni Jones in the second quarter and a touchdown pass from Frakes to Thomaz Whitford put the Aggies ahead 35-10 at halftime. Although Hawai‘i had a 9-play, 90-yard drive that ended in a 23-yard field goal by Matthew Shipley, their offense struggled to put anything together as the other two drives ended in a punt and turnover on downs.
Hawai‘i was able to put something together on its final three drives of the game with Walthall’s touchdown catch, another field goal by Shipley, and another touchdown run by Parson, but by then it was too late for the Rainbow Warriors to make a comeback.
Parson finished with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries to go with his two touchdowns. Defensively for the Rainbow Warriors, linebacker Penei Pavihi led the team with seven tackles. Cornerback Virdel Edwards had an interception off Frakes in the third quarter, the only turnover of the night.
The win by New Mexico State is the Aggies’ first win against Hawai‘i in program history, as Hawai‘i won the first 10 games played between the two teams. The win is also the first for the Aggies under their first-year coach Jerry Kill.
Hawai‘i has an off week before getting into its Mountain West conference schedule on Oct. 8, playing San Diego State on the mainland. The game is scheduled to kick off at 4:30 p.m. HST on the CBS Sports Network (television) and ESPN Honolulu (radio).