HONOLULU — Cedric Byrd hauled in four touchdown passes to help Hawaii escape with a 45-38 win over Arizona Saturday.
The Rainbow Warriors (1-0) never trailed, saw three separate 14-point leads erased and overcame six turnovers to record their first win over the Wildcats (0-1) in six tries.
Byrd caught scoring passes of 7 and 25 yards in the first half and added TD grabs of 35 and 30 yards after halftime. He finished with career-highs of 14 receptions for 224 yards.
Arizona evened the score at 35-all with Khalil Tate’s 21-yard TD pass to Stanley Berryhill III late in the third quarter, but Hawaii took the lead for good on Ryan Meskell’s 34-yard field goal with 10:39 left to play.
Tate passed for 361 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-39 passing with two interceptions. He also rushed for a team-high 108 yards on 13 carries.
Hawaii used two quarterbacks in the win. Starter Cole McDonald completed 29 of 41 passes for 378 and four touchdowns, but was intercepted four times. Chevan Cordeiro replaced McDonald in the third quarter and finished 5 of 7 for 58 yards and a touchdown.
The Wildcats had a chance to tie on the final play, but Tate scrambled all the way to the Hawaii 1-yard line before he was tackled by Kalen Hicks and Manly Williams to end the game.
Jace Whittaker recorded two of Arizona’s four interceptions.
Hawaii led 28-21 at halftime.
Arizona: After just six carries for 16 yards in the first half, running back J.J. Taylor finished with 11 rushes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 1,434 yards as a sophomore last year, when he earned third team AP All-American honors. The Wildcats, who averaged 202.4 rushing yards per game in 2018, ran for 178 yards Saturday.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors executed their lone punt of the night inside the game’s final minute. Of their 14 total offensive possessions, six drives ended with a touchdown, six others in turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) and one field goal. They were 5 of 10 on third-down conversions and 2 of 3 on fourth downs.
Arizona: Hosts Northern Arizona on Sept. 7
Hawaii: Will face its second of three straight Pac-12 opponents to open the season when it hosts Oregon State on Sept. 7.