The University of Hawaii Warrior football team may be finally getting that spark they desperately need Saturday when they face the No. 25 Fresno State Bulldogs at 6 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
Falling to the Nevada Wolf Pack 31-9 last weekend in Reno, Nev., the Warriors dropped to 0-3 this season.
Although the final score saw the Warriors lose by a margin of three scores for the third straight time this season, they did put up a fight.
UH took a 3-0 lead on their opening drive on a 28-yard field goal from Tyler Hadden.
But Nevada answered on three of their next four drives, scoring 17 unanswered points.
Hawaii failed to score on their following three drives and saw starting quarterback Taylor Graham exit the game in the second quarter due to injury.
However, on the Warriors fourth and last drive before halftime, backup quarterback Sean Schroeder got Hawaii into the end zone for six, hitting Chris Gant for a 21-yard touchdown. Hawaii failed on the PAT and went into halftime down a manageable 17-9.
Unfortunately, the Warriors wouldn’t score from that point on as they committed six turnovers in the second half, two of which took place when the Warriors were deep in Nevada territory.
Although the Warriors found themselves on the losing end of a 22-point margin, they led or matched Nevada in almost every statistical category.
Hawaii finished the game with 20 first downs on 9 of 19 third down conversions compared to Nevada’s 10 on 9 of 17 third downs. The Warriors also led the Wolf Pack in overall total offense with 376 to 340 and controlled the ball possession with 32:29 compared to 27:31.
Hawaii will need to do a better job of taking care of the ball Saturday against the streaking Bulldogs of Fresno State.
In taking down the Boise State Broncos last week in Fresno, 41-40, the Bulldogs earned their first top 25 ranking since 2008.
The Bulldogs are 3-0 on the season and haven’t loss a regular season game since Oct. 13 of 2012.
Fresno State’s last visit to Hawaii was on Christmas Eve of last year, when they suffered a 43-10 bowl loss to the SMU Mustangs in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
It’s safe to assume that the Bulldogs won’t be taking the Warriors lightly as they look to climb higher in the polls.
Hawaii’s Graham is listed as day-to-day with a sore left shoulder and hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday’s game. Warrior running back Joey Iosefa will be out Saturday and for roughly four weeks after he re-injured his left foot against the Wolf Pack, the same foot that held him out in team’s first two games.
Saturday’s matchup between the Bulldogs and the Warriors will be the first since Fresno State whipped the Warriors 45-10 last season in Fresno.
This will be the Warriors and Bulldogs 46th meeting and the 22nd straight year they’ve met on the gridiron.
Fresno State leads the overall series record 23-21 with one tie.
Saturday’s game will be televised on Oceanic-Pay-Per-View and broadcast on ESPN 1420 AM.
• Tyson Agbayani, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.